What's the difference between solid gold and gold dipped? And how do you care for each?
We wanted to give you a little lesson in the difference between these options and how to care for each!

What is solid gold?

According to the FTC, solid gold jewelry is technically any real gold jewelry piece that is not hollow inside. 

So what is real gold jewelry?

Pure gold is 24 karat, which means 100% gold with no other metals or alloys added. However, pure gold is so soft that it is usually mixed with other metals (also called alloys) to make it more wearable.

The karats of gold depend on the number of other metals it is mixed with. Since pure gold is 24 karats, we always measure out of 24 parts. So 22k gold is 22 parts of pure gold and 2 parts of other alloys, 18k gold is 18 parts of pure gold, and 4 parts other alloys.

In the United States, real gold jewelry can be 24k, 22k, 18k, 14k, or 10k. 10k is the lowest amount of pure gold you can have before the metal becomes no longer considered gold. In the United Kingdom, 9k is the lowest amount of pure gold. Always doing things a little different aren’t we :) 

Solid Gold XO Ring
At Starling, like at many other fine jewelry companies in the world, we consider 14k gold fine jewelry and 10k gold sort of on the edge between costume and fine jewelry. That is because 10k gold is 10 parts gold and 14 parts other metals, making it only 41% pure gold. Less than half the material is actually pure gold! On the other hand, 14k gold is 14 parts of 24 parts gold and 10 parts other alloys, making it 58.5% pure gold. This is also why 14k gold is sometimes stamped 585. And since we only want to use the best, we always use real 14k gold to make our jewelry. Our Lightning Bolt Bracelet, Mini Moon & Star Earrings, Moon & Star Mini Signet Ring, and Star Charm are all examples of how our real 14k gold looks in different Starling jewelry pieces.

What are those other metals or alloys?

In 14k gold jewelry, the metals that make up the other 10 parts or 41.5% depending on the color gold: yellow, white, or rose. Yellow and rose gold often have an alloy mixture of copper and sterling silver. Rose gold has more copper, making it more pinkish or rose. White gold often has nickel, zinc, and sterling silver, white metals that make it white gold. The exact percentages and mixtures are up to the caster or refining company. Each company has its own formula, which is why sometimes pieces from different designers both made in 14k yellow gold look slightly different! 

How to care for solid gold?

14k gold can last a lifetime and become an heirloom piece of jewelry. Pure gold does not tarnish, but the additional metals in 14k gold can tarnish mildly over time. There are some chemicals like chlorine and abrasive acids that can damage gold. We recommend removing your 14k gold jewelry when swimming in chlorine or using cleaning products.

You can easily revive 14k gold to the original luster by cleaning your jewelry at home with a soft brush (we use a new soft toothbrush) and an organic cleaning spray (like Mrs. Meyers), when done rinse with warm water and air dry. Afterward polish with a soft jewelry polishing cloth.

Sterling silver dipped in gold or plated (dipped or plated mean the same thing here) is also known as vermeil. Regular gold-dipped jewelry is not sterling silver under the gold, but a base metal such as brass or steel. This type of gold-dipped jewelry can not be referred to as vermeil. To make gold-dipped jewelry, a thin layer of real gold (must be at least 10k and more vermeil pieces are actually 22k or 24k gold) adheres to the silver through an electroplating bath. It is a good option for those who like the look of gold but are working on a budget. Unfortunately, the gold dip can wear off over time and even pretty quickly with heavy wear. Gold-dipped jewelry also tarnishes easily. It is very important to keep these pieces dry and away from perfumes, lotions, and sweat. Those with high Ph skin will also have their gold dipped pieces tarnish quicker. Gold dipped or gold plated jewelry is considered costume jewelry and not real gold and because of this, we do not make gold-dipped or gold-plated jewelry at Starling.

How to care for gold-dipped jewelry?
  • -Do not let your gold dipped jewelry come in contact with perfume, lotion, hairspray, sunscreen, nail polish, oils, or chlorine. Remove before using any of these items or similar items. 
  • -Remove before sweating, swimming, showering, or hot tubs.
  • -Keep gold dipped jewelry as dry as possible. 
  • -Gently clean with a soft jewelry cloth or cotton ball after every use. 
  • -Don't use harsh jewelry cleaners or soaps to clean. 
  • -Avoid scratches by storing them in the original box and away from other items. 


Want to learn more about the materials we use at Starling? Learn about our white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, and sterling silver materials and how we use them in all of our jewelry.

Want a reward for all of that amazing learning you just did? Perfect time to shop real gold pieces for your jewelry collection!
Solid Gold Jewelry
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