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Q: They say, "Manhattan was bought for $30 worth of beads", so my wife and I have a $30 bet resting on your answer. She says Gold Fill and Gold Plate are the same thing. I say they are completely different. Who's right. If I am, please describe the differences. J.D.

A: Well, J.D., Mannhattan's all yours. They are very different. Gold Filled (aka. Gold Overlay) is created by bonding (mechanical & heat) a layer of solid Karat Gold to a base metal, such as brass, and then rolling or drawing the combination to the desired thickness. By federal law, all Gold Filled items must be at least 5% or 1/20th gold alloy. 14K Gold Filled can be designated 14k/20. Because of its Solid Gold outer layer, Gold Filled items are know to last a lifetime. They are generally tarnish resistant, non-allergenic, and a much greater value than Gold Plate.

Gold Plate is created when a base metal, such as brass, is electro-plated with Gold to an industry standard of .15 to .25 mills. A few firms produce a much heavier, and much durable, Gold Plate by depositing a thicker layer of Gold than the industry standard. In some cases, Gold Plate can crack or corrode away.

Modern Vermeil is Sterling or Fine Silver that is plated with Gold.

Gold Color is either a base metal that is Gold Plated to below industry standards, or an alloy of metals that resemble Gold.