Simply put, 14/20 gold filled jewelry is similar to gold plated jewelry in that both are made of metal. But that’s about where their similarities end in any consequential sense of the word. Actually the manufacturing process of gold filled and gold plated metal varies completely.
According to the FTC, In order to permit using the terminology of “Gold Filled” you must ‘mechanically bond’ a ‘solid’ sheet of gold to an inner base metal. The total gold content must be 1/20 of the overall composition of the end product. Meaning, the item must be 5% gold in order to be called gold filled.
Now, since most people are not melting down their jewelry in order to smelt out the gold, we’d have to ask ourselves, why is there this product that requires a 5% gold content? We’ll deal with that more in dept in another post. But long story short, gold filled products retain their shine and don’t tarnish like even the heaviest gold plated base metal or sterling. Having a thick gold layer also acts as a stronger barrier between the inner base metal that ‘fills’ the gold. For people with sensitive ears or skin, this is a big plus. The thicker gold layer usually helps minimize irritation for those who are able to tolerate the 14k outer layer.
To see more on the actual FTC rules and regs of these metals click here