What is Gold Vermeil? Jewelry Metals Explained

If you've spent time looking for the perfect piece of gold jewelry, you know there's a huge variation in terms of quality, durability and price. You may wonder why some pieces fade faster than others, some seem outrageously overpriced, while others even turn your skin green! Understanding the difference between gold filled, gold plated and vermeil can make discovering jewelry you adore much easier, and give you a better appreciation of the jewelry making process and the valuation. Read on to learn about the differences between these jewelry metals!

What is gold vermeil?


Vermeil, pronounced ver-MAY, also known as “silver gilt”, is a high quality alternative to gold plated jewelry, and a more affordable option than solid gold. Essentially, it is gold plated sterling silver. Gold vermeil pieces are beautiful, hypoallergenic and long lasting due to their thick layer of gold, the anti-tarnish properties of silver and the lack of cheap materials.


How is vermeil jewelry made?

Vermeil Dagger Hoops 

Most vermeil jewelry available nowadays is created by electroplating sterling silver (silver 925) with gold, a chemical process that uses an electrical current to bind the two metals together. Think of it as "dipping" the silver piece in gold. In order to be considered true vermeil jewelry in the US, the piece has to meet certain qualifications. For instance, the gold on the piece needs to be at least 2.5 microns thick, and at least 10k or higher.

How is vermeil different from gold plated jewelry?

Hellhound Jewelry Vermeil Rings

Gold plated jewelry has no standard for what metal is used under the gold, and generally the pieces are made from cheaper metals like copper and brass. It also has no industry standard for how thick the plating needs to be, or what karat gold needs to be used. Low quality gold plated jewelry is often flash plated with a very thin layer of gold, and so tends to tarnish quickly. The metals used may cause discoloration of the skin as well.

Vermeil is much more likely to last a long time when cared for due to the thicker plating. It is a fantastic hypoallergenic alternative to gold plated jewelry due to the lack of brass, nickel and copper.


How is vermeil different from gold filled jewelry?


The term gold filled is misleading, as these pieces are not actually solid gold. Instead they have thick layers of gold pressure or heat bonded to a base metal, such as brass or silver. Gold filled jewelry is at least 5% gold by weight. Due to the thicker plating and complicated bonding process, it is usually the most durable option out of these three, and is generally the most expensive as well.


How do I care for my gold vermeil pieces?

 Hellhound Crescent Vermeil Ring

Always remove your vermeil jewelry before showering, washing your hands, exercising, or doing any activity that could get it wet. For routine care or for removing tarnish: very gently polish your jewelry with a soft cloth, like a microfiber cloth. Do not rub the jewelry hard as it can take the plating off, and avoid silver polishing cloth (unless it specifies that the cloth is untreated) as these can contain polishes made for silver that will erode gold. If a thorough cleaning is needed, you can dip a soft cloth in warm water with a tiny amount of basic liquid soap (NOT dish soap) and wipe the piece. Do not submerge your jewelry or use any kind of brush. Rinse with water and pat dry.

We hope this blog post gave you an idea of what makes gold jewelry so unique and variable. Feel free to contact us for any inquiries regarding our jewelry, and happy shopping!

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