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Ask Your Goldsmith:
18 Kt Gold over Sterling?


I was looking at a ring for my fiance on eBay and the item description stated that it was 18K gold over sterling silver. I'm just wondering if this makes the item low quality. What exactly does this mean: "gold over sterling silver"? I've been looking on the internet to try to find out, but can't seem to find anything that satisfies my inquisitiveness. As a woman, I guess I'm use to being spoiled with (what I think is) pure gold jewellery. Thank you in advance for your response.


Hi Julie,

Sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver! 18 KT over sterling means that the gold is plated over the sterling silver. So the plating is yellow and has almost no gold in it (by weight), just a little yellow color that comes off in a few weeks or months, depending how often the ring is worn. This plating costs 50 cents!

Once the plating wears off on the high places of the item and remains a bit on the lower parts, it looks ugly - not yellow and not white. You're much better off with sterling silver only, without yellow hard gold plating, or white rhodium plating. Sterling can always be polished up but not the plated jewellery!

Never get anything plated, it is usually only imitation brass jewellery electroplated for a few dollars.

Hartmut Reinsch

For more information, please read my other articles about Buying and Selling Jewellery, About Old Gold and Taking Care of Your Jewellery.

Have a Question? Get the Answer! info@westyorkjewellers.com


Hartmut Reinsch
West York Jewellers
January 2003