Short Answer — Gold-plated jewelry, including 18K HGE, has the lowest retail value among gold jewelry and little to no resale value. While 18K gold includes 75% pure gold, HGE plating is so thin that it doesn’t contain enough gold to be of high value.
18K HGE Value Explained
Heavy gold electroplate (HGE) is a type of gold plating; in other words, it’s a thin layer of gold (at least 100 millionths of an inch) added to a base metal to give the appearance of gold.
Unfortunately, though 18K gold is 75% pure gold, 18K HGE has virtually no value. Gold plating is usually so thin that you can scratch it off easily; it contains such a small amount of gold that it rarely adds monetary value to the piece.
There are a few different types of 18K gold plating, and they all carry the same approximate value. You can tell what kind of gold plating your jewelry has by looking at the gold hallmark — the letters and numbers stamped onto all fine jewelry to identify their gold content.
The most common gold hallmark for 18K gold-plated jewelry is 1/40 18K HGE. The 1/40 number is a fraction referring to the amount of gold in the overall piece — 1/40 is equal to 2.5% gold. Gold-plated jewelry may also be 1/50, which is 2% gold.
Other than HGE, gold-plated jewelry may be stamped with these letters after the karat measurement:
- HGEP: Heavy gold electroplate
- HGP: Heavy gold plate
- GEP: Gold electroplate
- RGP: Rolled gold plate
Each of these markings signifies a different way in which the gold was applied to the underlying metal. The value of 18K gold-plated jewelry is determined by the amount of gold the item contains; the actual worth of a piece is negligible since it contains almost no gold.
Retail Value of 18K HGE Jewelry
Most 18K gold-plated jewelry is relatively inexpensive compared to solid gold or gold-filled jewelry because it contains very little gold. Instead, the retail cost of 18K HGE jewelry depends on other factors, such as the underlying metal and whether the item uses other valuable materials like gemstones.
We researched 18K gold plated jewelry on various retailers and catalogs and found that the approximate retail prices for these pieces are:
- 18K HGE bracelet: Around $5 to $15; view 18K gold plated bracelets on Amazon
- 18K HGE necklace: Around $5 to $20, although some gold-plated sterling silver pieces retail for $150 to $200; view 18K gold-plated necklaces on Amazon
- 18K HGE ring: As low as $2 up to $25, and much more for 18K gold plated rings set with diamonds or other gemstones; view 18K gold plated rings on Amazon
Scrap Value of 18K HGE Jewelry
The scrap value of 18K HGE jewelry is very low. For example, a necklace with three square inches of surface area (such as a thick gold-plated chain) and a standard gold plating thickness of 0.8 microns (30 microinches) would be worth less than $2 in gold scrap value. You can calculate the exact gold value of 18K gold-plated jewelry with Gold-N-Scrap’s gold plating calculator.
Scrap gold buyers — including jewelry stores, online gold buyers, and pawn shops — do not generally accept gold-plated jewelry. If you’re interested in selling gold-plated jewelry, your best bet is probably to sell it yourself as used jewelry through websites such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or Craigslist.