Vermeil Jewellery and Gold Plated Jewellery

Have you heard of gold vermeil? It has been making a buzz in the jewellery world lately and is gaining popularity but interestingly enough, not any people understands what it is. 

If you are keen on gold (not just jewellery), vermeil could be interesting as it offers an inexpensive alternative to an actual gold jewellery, although other options are available such as gold filled ang gold plated. But what is the different in all these and what is the right one for you?

What is Gold Vermeil?

Vermeil or pronounced as ver-may is a French word that refers to a variety of gold-coated metal. For metal to be considered vermeil, it needs to meet the following criteria, otherwise, the metal becomes gold filled or gold plated. 

  • The base of the metal must be sterling (92.5%) or fine (99.9%) silver. This is why vermeil is also known by its other names, silver gilt or gilded silver.
  • The purity of the gold must be at least 10ct
  • The depth of the gold coat should consist of a minimum 2.5 microns

While gold vermeil is popularly used in jewellery, it is actually a versatile metal and has other uses as well. For example, wine coolers, table wares as well as other furniture and fixtures in luxury homes or even the Olympic gold medals are vermeil.  So how is it actually incorporated in jewellery?

First of all, to create a gold vermeil, the item is first crafted in fine or sterling silver then covered in gold by electrolysis. This process results in a consistent thickness and quality.

Does vermeil jewellery last?

The durability of your gold vermeil actually depends on the thickness of the gold plating. So gold is the primary factor in making sure the vermeil jewellery last. The thicker the gold plating, the longer the life of the jewellery piece. Also think about the purity of vermeil. As you may know, the higher the purity of gold, the softer it is and more susceptible to scratches and damage. For a gold vermeil to last, buy 14ct or 18ct gold vermeil. Anything higher is too soft and anything lower, will not have the colour of the gold jewellery you are after. 

Does vermeil jewellery tarnish?

The short answer to this is yes. Because it is made with silver base and because silver is known to oxidise, it is only a matter of time before gold vermeil starts to tarnish. But this should not be a permanent issue with cleaning and maintaining. Your local jeweller can help remove the tarnish and the vermeil to restore its sparkle. 

Gold vermeil vs Gold-plated or Gold-filled

Gold plated jewellery has no standard metal or gold thickness. You can find jewellery made of metals and alloys. With gold plating, there is a high chance of easy damage to the jewellery piece like chipping.

Gold filled jewellery is more valuable than gold-plate. It contains more gold as the gold coating is quite thick. Also, the base metal used for gold-filled items is often a gold alloy. This is hypoallergenic and also does not tarnish. Gold-filled is the next best thing to solid gold. This is why it is costlier than gold-plate or even vermeil. 

Gold vermeil is similar to gold-plate in terms of affordability and amount of gold used. The main difference between the two is that vermeil has its strict standards and is made entirely of precious metals (both silver and gold are considered precious metals) while gold plate has different levels of gold thickness and is made with any base metal. If the same criteria is met for both, gold plate and gold vermeil can be one and the same! 

What to look out for when buying vermeil jewellery? You can find gold vermeil in many jewelry stores online and in-store, it pays off to know more about vermeil. Some tips for you: 

  • Too good to be true? 100%! Notice the prices. Gold vermeil is typically more expensive than sterling silver and gold-plated jewelry. If the price of the gold vermail is very similar to these, chances are the quality of the vermeil you are looking at is low. 
  • Check the coloration nd the weight of the vermeil item. Ask about the level of purity as well as the thickness.
  • Is there a 925 mark on the item as this is used to signify silver jewelry covered in a layer of gold. This is a standard hallmark for vermeil. 
  • When selling gold vermeil, sellers need to disclose any deviations from the minimum standards in the three abovementioned criteria as vermeil is a regulated metal. It is a good idea to request all specifications of the vermeil before you buy. 

Allergy reactions on jewellery

Certain metals such as nickel, copper, chromium and cobalt have been known to cause allergic reactions in individuals. This is not a concern with gold vermeil, as it only generally contains gold and silver. However, if there are materials mixed in the vermeil such as nickel, sellers are required to disclose them. You are entitled to ask the composition of the metal used in jewellery. 

Finally....

Gold vermeil is a good cheaper alternative to solid gold jewellery. It gives you the look without the steep price. Be aware of the benefits of gold vermeil, gold plating and gold filled. Decide what is important for you. For The Diamond Setter, we give you access to solid gold jewellery at an honest and affordable price because you get it straight from the maker and our jewellery are all handmade to order so we do not have big stocks and overheads to maintain. We focus on the skills and craftsmanship involved to create a jewellery whether it is gold ring, silver bracelet, white gold necklace and most importantly, diamond and gemstone setting.

Written by: Lorraine Marsh