The key difference between gold and gold plated items is that we call pure gold or gold alloys as gold whereas gold plated means that a coating of gold is applied on the surface of another metal.
Gold is a metal people knew since ancient times. It has become a precious metal due to its brightness, softness, corrosion resistance in most chemical natures, ductility and scarcity. Many people confuse the gold with gold plated items. Plated gold is a coating of gold which is fused on another metal. The price of gold and the need to imitate gold make the need for gold-plated items. Jewellery is the most common items made of gold.
What is Gold?
Gold is a soft, malleable and ductile metal. Due to the softness of this metal, we can alloy it with other metals like copper. There, we can give the percentage of gold in a gold alloy by karat. 24K (24 karats) gold is the pure gold (not alloyed with any other chemical element). 22K gold has 22 parts of gold and two parts of another alloying element by weight. Therefore, we express the contents of gold and the alloying element out of 24. Usually, we call all the alloys as gold.
Moreover, we need to stamp the gold content of the item on it. However, 24K gold is not suitable for practical day to day usage on account of its softness. Though the resistance to corrosion is excellent in pure gold, with the decreasing content of gold in gold alloys, the resistant to corrosion decreases. Therefore, the durability of gold with a high percentage of gold is higher.
This metal is a tenuous metal from which we can make very thin pieces such as the very fine leaf of gold. Because gold is one of the metals which has high electrical conductivity, it is useful in producing circuits in the electronics industry. However, because of the expensiveness of gold, gold plated items have become an option for gold items.
What is Gold Plated?
Gold plated means that a coating of gold is applied on the surface of another metal. To apply the coating we need at least 10K gold. The most common technique for this process of gold plating is electroplating. There, we take a Potassium – Gold cyanide solution as the bath for plating. Other than that, we can use electroless plating and immersion plating techniques as well.
The plating of this metal wears off quickly depending on the usage. Gold plated items are also prone to corrosion due to the base metals beneath the coating. Moreover, the metals under the coating of jewellery can cause allergies to some people.
Furthermore, the durability of gold plated items depends on the following factors:
- the thickness of the layer of gold
- the gold content of the gold layer
- the quality of the metal that we use beneath the gold layer
Apart from that, we can distinguish gold from gold plated items by carrying out appropriate tests. Gold and gold plated items are difficult to differentiate because of their same appearance. But we can identify them with tests. Therefore, we can use these available tests to identify whether the items are fake or not in the case of jewellery. However, people use gold plated items widely as a substitute for gold.
What is the Difference Between Gold and Gold Plated?
Gold is a soft, malleable and ductile metal. Gold plated means that a coating of gold is applied on the surface of another metal. Therefore, the key difference between gold and gold plated items is that we call pure gold or gold alloys as gold whereas gold plated means that a coating of gold is applied on the surface of another metal. Another important difference between gold and gold plated metals is that the durability of gold is higher than that of gold plated metals. Moreover, gold is more expensive than gold plated metals.
Summary – Gold vs Gold Plated
Gold is a highly expensive metal. Therefore, as a substitution, we can use gold plated items rather than using items made of pure gold. The key difference between gold and gold plated items is that we call pure gold or gold alloys as gold whereas gold plated means that a coating of gold is applied on the surface of another metal.
1. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Gold.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 4 Oct. 2018. Available here
2. Gasdia-Cochrane, Marlene. “How Gold Plating Is Done, Step by Step.” Thermo Fisher Scientific, Thermo Fisher Scientific, 3 Oct. 2016. Available here