For those on a budget, gold-plated jewelry is an excellent alternative to getting pure gold jewelry. If you don't plan to wear your jewelry every day, silver is a great alternative to gold because it has the same look and design without the expensive price tag. Gold plating has a wide range of quality, minimum thickness and quality of the gold coating, the underlying base metal used in the item, and the degree of craftsmanship. The only way to discern real gold jewelry from gold-plated jewelry is to glance at it closely. The downsides of gold-plated jewelry are similar to those of any other product.