Gold plated vs solid gold jewellery - which is better?

Jewellery flat lay image of three solid gold ring. Made with natural diamonds and freshwater pearls with 14k solid gold.

One of the questions we are most commonly asked on our Instagram, is ‘what’s the difference between solid gold and gold-plated jewellery?’ The answer? Quite a few things, which is why we’ve dedicated this blog post to explaining the similarities and contrasts between the two materials. Scroll down to discover which type of gold will work best for your lifestyle.

Solid gold jewellery

What does solid gold mean?

If a jewellery piece is described as solid gold it means it is made entirely from gold. The amount of karats in a piece denotes how pure the gold is.

Diagram showing the amount of gold in 10k, 14k, 18k and 24k solid gold jewellery. It also shows the pros and cons of making jewellery with less amounts of gold for durability

While you might assume most people would want the purest gold possible, real gold is incredibly soft and is often unsuitable for use in jewellery. That’s why it is often mixed with other metals to make it more durable. We use 18k and 14k solid gold in our jewellery so that it is strong enough to be worn everyday. Once you put our pieces on you rarely need to take them off.

Will solid gold tarnish?

Solid gold jewellery will never tarnish. Periodic cleaning is recommended to retain a piece’s shine, but it will never leave green marks on the skin, cause a rash or rub off like gold-plated jewellery. This makes it the perfect choice for those with skin sensitivities. Gold is naturally hypoallergenic which means it is very unlikely to cause any kind of reaction.

Why is solid gold jewellery more expensive?

As solid gold jewellery is made from pure gold, it is a great investment. The price of gold fluctuates but generally increases over time, so it retains a high value. This means that if you pass your La Grotta piece down to a family member in years to come, its value should have increased.

How can I tell if my jewellery is solid gold?

All solid gold jewellery will be stamped with the number of karats it contains or its numerical hallmark equivalent. All La Grotta pieces will be stamped with the number of karats the design has.

Gold-plated jewellery

What does gold plated mean?

Gold-plated jewellery is made primarily from a base metal like brass, which is then painted or dipped in to a very thin layer of 14k or 18k gold. If a sterling silver piece is covered in gold, it is referred to gold vermeil. It’s important to remember that these karats represent the small layer of gold only, and not the entire jewellery piece. In reality 18k gold-plated jewellery only contains a microscopic amount of pure gold.

Will gold-plated jewellery tarnish?

Unlike solid gold jewellery, unfortunately, gold-plated jewellery lasts for an average of three months before it begins to show sign of wear. Excessive rubbing against the skin can cause the gold plating to fade away and dullness to occur. Those with skin sensitivities may also experience rashes, itching, or green marks after wearing gold-plated pieces. This is usually due to an allergic reaction caused by one of the base metals used in the piece.

How do you maintain gold-plated jewellery?

Gold-plated jewellery is not designed to be durable or last long term, so you should take care to keep it away from water and humid climates. This does not make it suitable for exercising in or taking on holiday. 

So which is best? Gold-plated or solid gold jewellery?

Gold-plated jewellery is a great option if you are buying a trend-led piece that will be out of style in a few months, or if you still aren’t sure if a design is right for you.

If you already know your personal tastes and want to invest in jewellery that will last a lifetime and increase in value, we recommend solid gold jewellery. It will never tarnish or fade over time, is hypoallergenic and can be worn when showering, exercising or sleeping.


At La Grotta, we only use solid gold in our jewellery as we believe in the motto ‘buy well, buy once’. Once you own our jewellery you’ll love it forever.

So shop our new styles now.


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