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by Jesús Zabala - 6 min read

Brass vs Gold Jewelry

Most yellow jewelry is made of gold or brass. Both materials share identical external features, but they have differences in terms of value and composition. The yellowish color tricked many into buying fake gold or plated jewelry for the price of a real one. So, what is the brass vs gold jewelry difference?

We will compare the main properties of brass and gold in terms of composition, value, durability, appeal, etc. We will also discuss the cost considerations to decide easily. What is better brass or gold plated? Let’s discover!

Brass vs Gold Jewelry
Source: jewelrylab.co

Brass vs Gold Jewelry: Differences Comparison

Brass and gold are highly flexible materials, which makes them convenient for jewelry production. However, the first difference between these two is in terms of the composition and characteristics of both materials. We provided more details below.

Composition and properties

Brass 

Brass is an alloy or a metal derived from a mixture of copper and zinc. Typically, jewelry technicians use about 70% copper and 30% zinc to create a piece of jewelry, but the percentages may vary depending on the producer. Therefore, the density of brass is lower than that of gold.

On the outside, brass has a similar color to gold. This allows the jewelry industry to create more affordable jewelry items with similar aesthetic features like gold. However, brass can never reach the quality of gold.

Gold

Gold is a soft and rare metal found in nature. Unlike brass, you cannot derive gold. It’s located in the Earth’s core, and you must mine to collect raw gold. Then, it goes into further procession.

Due to its soft composition, gold has been used to create jewelry since ancient times, and it still exists. Jewelry stores can use old gold to create new products apart from the new gold. Regardless of age, gold is still a soft material. However, the prices of the new and old gold are significantly different.

Aesthetic appeal and value

The visual difference between gold and brass may not be noticeable at first sight, especially for the untrained eye, but they exist. Our jewelers can tell real or fake gold from a distance depending on the shine, but that's an advanced skill requiring business experience. Yet, there are simpler ways to differentiate real gold from fake.

Gold and brass have the same yellowish color, but only gold is consistent throughout the surface. As brass is an alloy derived from zinc and copper, you will notice different shades of yellow over the item on a closer look like it was painted. 

Furthermore, some scientists believe that gold occurred in a star collision of a supernova and neutron star even before the Earth was formed. They explain the gold derivatives in the Earth as a result of asteroid distribution. Besides the story, we don't have to tell you why gold is associated with luxury, as many people wear and invest in it.

Brass jewelry, however, is the perfect alternative to gold for those looking for a decent accessory on a budget. Since there are no limitations in creating duplicates, everyone can afford many amazing jewelry pieces.

Durability and strength of gold and brass jewelry

Gold is a more durable metal because it’s non-reactive. When exposed to water, extreme temperatures, air, or other elements, it does not change its properties. It only gets dirty with time and loses its shine. Our jewelers regularly clean the products of our clients and they look brand new.

Unlike gold, brass is a reactive metal, which will degrade with time. First, it starts with oxidation or losing the color of the metal. Then, it will start to rust and degrade. 

The degradation process accelerates if you expose your brass jewelry to humidity and water, spray it with perfumes, or put it immediately after putting it in body lotion. If you want your brass jewelry to last longer, keep it away from natural elements or cosmetic products.

On a strength note, the gold is more malleable, making it easier to work with in terms of design. You have more liberty for design on gold than brass because it’s a natural element, while brass is an alloy.

Durability and strength of gold and brass jewelry
Source: jewelrylab.co

Tarnish and corrosion resistance of gold and brass jewelry

Gold items cannot corrode or tarnish. That's why it's passed from generation to generation. You will never see any sign of age on gold except for the dirt.

Yet, this is the complete opposite of brass. As we mentioned, brass jewelry corrodes and has a short lifespan. Tarnishing is part of the corroded process, and it refers to the surface damage or the early signs that the piece needs replacement.

Also, brass reacts to acid, while gold is acid-resistant except for hydrochloric acid, which shows slight changes. This is one of our jewelers' tests to check if the gold is real. If you put two drops of nitric acid on a brass ring, you will notice a fizzy reaction and green smoke. But if you notice a milky reaction, it's a gold pleated silver ring.

Hypoallergenic properties of gold and brass jewelry

The hypoallergenic properties of gold and brass items are another potential difference. Although both metals are most used in jewelry production, they may show allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin.

As mentioned, gold tolerates all-natural elements and has zero chances for corrosion or oxidation. For example, the 24K gold is hypoallergenic and might be safe for people with sensitive skin because it’s 100% pure gold.

On the other hand, brass may show signs of allergenic properties. It might cause skin irritation, itching, rashes, swollen areas, or blisters. Other types of metals you should stay away from are cobalt, chromium, and nickel. 

It would help if you didn’t allow reaching the blister stage as it is extremely painful to endure. So, people with sensitive skin should avoid brass and get real gold or gold-plated jewelry like our Bali Rose Necklace.

Price and affordability

When it comes to the brass vs gold jewelry pricing, it’s obvious which metal value is bigger. Let’s skim the cost considerations of brass and gold jewelry.

Cost considerations of brass jewelry

Brass is significantly more affordable than gold and perfect for all those looking for chic jewelry. There are many outstanding pieces in all kinds of designs and styles.

Nonetheless, if you happen to rebuy the same piece of brass jewelry, it’s better to invest in gold jewelry. You can order pretty much any design now. It's a super convenient and sustainable solution.

Before you buy brass jewelry, consider that some individuals may be allergic to specific metals in brass. You may risk getting an allergy and wasting money if you have sensitive skin.

Cost considerations of gold jewelry

Gold jewelry is more expensive and considered a luxury. More factors influence the final costs of gold jewelry, such as being rare and natural metal, as well as the jeweler's craftsmanship.

Gold jewelry is often related to heritage, which instantly raises its value. Investing in quality gold pieces you can pass down to your generation is worth every penny, especially for unique jewelry pieces.

Otherwise, the price of the gold jewelry is determined based on the number of karats. 24-karat gold is the most expensive. Yet, if you want similar quality but cannot afford it, you can always opt for a gold pleated necklace here at Jewelry Lab. We offer exquisite designs and premium quality jewelry for a super affordable price, such as our Good Luck Desert Flower Pendant.

Cost considerations of gold jewelry
Source: jewelrylab.co

Conclusion

To conclude the brass vs gold jewelry comparison, the key takeaway is that gold jewelry is a more durable and valuable investment. In contrast, brass jewelry is more affordable and can complement any look like gold jewelry. You may often buy brass jewelry because of the hype around fashion trends.

Another important note to remember before buying jewelry is the hypoallergenic properties. You should avoid nickel, copper, or cobalt materials if you have sensitive skin because they usually cause allergies. Investing in gold pieces is better because brass is an alloy of copper and zinc.

Jesús  is the founder and designer of JewelryLab. He is the Head of Design and also oversees production, quality control, and precious metal sourcing.

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