Gold plating is a traditional technique to apply a gold finish to jewellery and watches. The thickness of the plating can vary from designer to designer, so not all gold plating is alike. Measured in microns the greater the thickness of plating the longer it should last, however, this also depends on how hard a person is on the jewellery and the manner in which the item is to be worn.
Gold plated jewellery is a more affordable option compared to a solid piece but with the right craftsmanship and looking after can last just as long.
PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) in many cases can be far superior to
a plated finish. This is because of the way this finish permeates the surface of the metal. Of course there are good PVD finishes and the not so good. The way I always describe it is like butter soaking into the surface of hot toast (PVD) as opposed to butter onto cold toast (gold plate). Hungry now huh!? This is a great finish for watches and now many of the Swiss brands are utilising it. For example the Green Rolex Submariner’s dial and a Longines La Grande Classique to name just two ways it is used.
The very fact that the finish goes deeper into the surface rather than simply sitting on top means it will last longer. This means you will have a time piece with all the warmth and allure of gold for many a year to come. However it is wise to remember the old adage not all that glitters is gold. Some PVD finishes use no gold in them at all, a gold tone finish can be achieved from a titanium nitride layer. So in comparison to a good gold plate finish the Gold plate is going to have a richer truer gold tone.
This process has opened up a world of new designs in the watch world. For example the
array of black PVD watches is growing and growing. One of the best looking examples of this to date if you ask me is the Limited Edition TAG Heuer Aquaracer with black titanium carbide finish.
To summarise I suppose it’s your classic case of Pro’s and Con’s to weigh up on either side depending on what you’re buying how it will be worn and how long you want to wear the piece for. As always buying a good quality finish is key to that lasting golden glow!