The gold tone jewelry means any gold piece that has negligible gold content, but having a finish which appears to be gold.
There are extensive guidelines created by Federal Trade Commission in U.S. for using the term “gold” for sale of jewelry. Jewelry manufacturers can not use “gold” term without the appropriate qualifications. Hence “gold tone” term is adopted as a sales term for low priced, non-gold jewelry.
Gold tone jewelry can be health risk for some people having sensitivity to specific metals, like nickel. These metals which are commonly used for inexpensive jewelry can cause dermatitis in sensitive people. People having nickel sensitivity need to avoid the gold tone as well as thin plated jewelry.
When buying gold jewelry, check the purity along with actual gold content. According to U.S. law items having less than 10 karat purity are prohibited from getting sold as gold.