Updated: Jan 18, 2021
This is a very simple article and the points raised here are good to keep in mind when you are buying necklace chains or bracelets in the UK whilst noting that it is very different if you are buying from other countries.
Gold Chains and Bracelets
gold comes in different karat weights, 9, 14, 18, 22 and 24. The higher the karat weight the higher the purity of the gold with 24 karat being 100% pure gold, the stuff of fairy tales and dreams.
gold is usually more golden, richer in colour the higher the karat weight.
gold is more expensive, the higher the karat weight.
gold is softer more malleable the higher the karat weight.
gold items must be hallmarked by law if it is 1g or over.
Silver Chains and Bracelets
silver comes in different purity but most commonly it is 925 sterling silver or 999 fine silver.
the finer the silver the softer and more malleable it is.
silver is a less expensive than gold.
silver items must be hallmarked by law if it is 7.78g or over.
Base Metals covered in gold
due to the high cost of gold, it is often the case that items are made of a base metal like copper or brass and then covered with gold, a bit like a cake covered in icing! Costume jewellery is a good example for this.
the quality of the "gold covering can vary considerably. But as a rule of thumb, GOLD PLATING is higher quality than GOLD FLASH because here the gold covering is THICKER.
GOLD FLASH - the covering is 0.25 micron and less
GOLD PLATE - the covering is 1 micron and above
HEAVY GOLD PLATE - the covering is 2.5 microns and above
VERMEIL GOLD PLATE - the covering of gold on silver, also referred to as "midas gold"
So bottom line when you are buying a chain consider YOUR BUDGET and YOUR USAGE of the item:
if its gold, it is expensive, a gold chain with a budget of £30 -£50 but it is likely to be an extremely fine and flimsy chain which for the odd occasion may be ok but if you are going to use it regularly than it may not last the distance.
a sterling silver chain with "gold plating" is a high quality item where you still get a good weight of precious silver metal with a gold covering that will last the distance. You will get a very high quality item for a budget of £30-£50.
a chain made of base metal with that flash of gold will not last if you are going to use it regularly as the gold will ware off very quickly.