WHAT DOES “GOLD FILLED”, OR “GOLD PLATED” MEAN?

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It looks like gold, but is it? Jewelry can be made to look like something it is not. A plain base metal, for example,  can be made to look like real gold or silver through various manufacturing techniques.  How can you tell that you’re getting the real thing?

Gold filled jewelry is sometimes referred to as “rolled gold” and refers to a very thin, solid layer of gold that is bonded to a base metal such as brass or even silver. It is often difficult, if not impossible, to tell the difference by appearance alone. These pieces are often marked with the letters “GF” or “1/20 12K GF” and “1/20 14K GF”. But as always, buyer beware. Despite the fact that the Federal Trade Commission has strict regulations regarding these stamps, people can use them deceptively.

Gold plating is slightly different. Instead of a layer of gold or silver being  applied to the base metal, the base metal is dipped in a bath and uses electricity or chemicals to draw the gold onto it. This can be used to decorate jewelry and other decorative objects. To the naked eye, it’s extremely difficult to tell the difference between the two. Silver is often used for gold plating for jewelry since the silver provides a better surface for the gold to adhere to.

Most experts agree that the only true test to make sure what you are getting is real gold is the scratch test.  The piece in question can be scratched on a stone and tested with acid to see how quickly the scratch mark fades. This is not something consumers can do on their own, so it’s important to know and trust the business you are buying from. Reputable Massachusetts pawn shops may make use this technique. One thing a consumer can do to test an item on their own is use a magnet. Gold and silver are non-magnetic so they will not be drawn to the magnet. This is not fool proof, however, since other metals may not be magnetic and certain parts of an item such as a clasp may be the only part that is a different alloy.

So what’s it worth? The answer is that the metal generally has no intrinsic value, meaning it has no value to Massachusetts pawn shops or gold buyers. On the other hand, it can be a great way to have beautiful jewelry at a bargain price.
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