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What is Gold Vermeil?

What Is Gold Vermeil? Your Complete Guide

If you're shopping for gold jewelry, you may have seen jewelry labeled "gold vermeil", "vermeil", "14k vermeil", "18k vermeil", etc. We’re here to guide you through all the features of gold vermeil and help you understand why you should choose to invest in gold vermeil jewelry!

What is gold vermeil?

Gold vermeil (pronounced vehr-may; it's French!) is a legally regulated term that refers to a high quality kind of gold-plated jewelry. To be legally called "vermeil" in the United States, the jewelry piece must meet ALL of these conditions:

  • Have sterling silver as its base material. Sterling silver is an alloy made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other materials, and is a standard material used in high quality jewelry (versus, e.g., brass or copper).
  • Be plated in a gold layer that is at least 10k (10 karats). That means the gold is at least 41.7% gold content.
  • Have gold plating that is at least 2.5 microns thick. A micron is 1/1000th of a millimeter.

 Is vermeil the same as gold plated jewelry?

Gold vermeil is not the same as gold plated jewelry. The main differences between gold vermeil and gold plated jewelry are the thickness of the gold plating and the base metal used. Gold plated jewelry has plating at least 0.5 microns thick (5x less than gold vermeil). It does not require a sterling silver base; it usually uses inexpensive materials, such as copper or brass as its core metal. Since the layer of gold is so thin, the gold plating tends to wear off very quickly, which can cause the jewelry to degrade at a faster speed.

What is 14k gold vermeil?

14k gold vermeil is jewelry that has been plated with a thick layer of 14k gold over a sterling silver base. 14k gold is composed of 58.3% pure gold and 41.7% other metals. Jewelry makers prefer 14k gold for the outer plating rather than 100% pure gold (aka 24k gold) because pure gold is very malleable and has very strong yellow and orange tones, which give it a brassy look.

At RSJ Collection, our gold vermeil jewelry uses a 14k tone because it’s perfect for everyday pieces.

What is 18k gold vermeil?

18k gold vermeil is vermeil that has been plated with a thick layer of 18k gold over a sterling silver base. 18k gold vermeil is 75% pure gold and 15% alloy. Jewelry makers opt for 18k gold for the outer plating rather than 100% pure gold (aka 24k gold) because 18k gold is more durable and has less of an orange tone.

Is gold vermeil good quality?

After solid gold, gold vermeil is the highest quality type of gold tone jewelry that you can buy. It is a great option for those who are seeking an affordable and high quality alternative to solid gold jewelry.

Gold vermeil jewelry uses a thick layer of gold plating over a sterling silver base, while cheap gold plated and gold filled jewelry use a thin layer of gold over brass or copper as their base metals. They are susceptible to tarnish, and the thin layer of gold will wear off quickly, leaving the unattractive metal to show through.

If you are looking for a sustainable option for jewelry but cannot afford solid gold, gold vermeil is your next best choice.

Does gold vermeil wear off?

In short, yes - unfortunately, gold vermeil can wear off after heavy use; however, with proper care, the plating layer can last for many years because it is so thick.

While gold vermeil is considered resistant and durable, like all alloyed gold, with typical wear and use, the metal can naturally start to fade over time… but don’t expect this to happen anytime soon. Thankfully, there are many precautions you can take to prolong the lifespan of your gold vermeil jewelry.

Does vermeil tarnish?

Gold vermeil can tarnish, but tarnishing can be prevented with good care. Tarnishing occurs in jewelry when various metals chemically react with air or moisture, which result in the formation of copper dioxide (a brown or black colouration on the surface). Environmental factors such as humidity, sweat, lotions and perfumes can increase the likelihood of tarnishing.

Gold vermeil has sterling silver at its core and thankfully this is much less susceptible to tarnish than copper-based jewelry, brass-based jewelry and jewelry that contains nickel.

Tarnish can easily be polished off and you can bring jewelry back to its original shiny form. Learn more on how to clean your jewelry at home with our instructions.

Gold vermeil is a legally regulated term that refers to jewelry with a sterling silver base metal and a layer of gold plating that is at least 2.5 microns thick. Gold vermeil is superior to gold plated jewelry in terms of longevity, quality and value!

Is vermeil real gold?

Yes - gold vermeil is considered real gold! For jewelry to be legally regarded as gold vermeil, there must be a layer of at least 10k gold that is 2.5 micron thick (that is 5x thicker than regular plated gold)! The gold plating is usually electroplated over a sterling silver base.

The main difference between gold vermeil and solid gold is that vermeil uses a sterling silver base metal whereas the latter, as the name suggests, is made of just that…gold! While gold vermeil may not be considered 100% “real gold”, thanks to its thick layer of plating, the quality definitely does not fall far behind solid gold jewelry.

Can gold vermeil get wet? Is vermeil waterproof?

Gold vermeil can get wet but we don’t call it waterproof because it’s not advisable to submerge gold vermeil jewelry in water for long periods of time. If you are want to extend the lifespan of your jewelry, it is recommended that you keep your gold vermeil as dry as possible. While water may not have any immediate devastating effects on gold vermeil, as a result of the continuous chemical reactions that occur overtime, this can induce tarnishing or reduce the shine of your jewelry pieces.

There are no metals that are truly considered 100% waterproof (not even solid gold), which is why jewelry care is extremely important for those who want to ensure the longevity of their beloved pieces. As a precaution, it’s important to remove your vermeil pieces before you go to the beach, pool or gym (sweat plays a part too)!

Can you shower with gold vermeil?

You can shower with your gold vermeil jewelry on, but we don’t recommend making it a habit because it can accelerate tarnishing. An occasional shower will not immediately alter the appearance of your gold vermeil jewelry, but it is best to pat the pieces dry immediately afterwards. Additionally, you should try to avoid contact with soaps, shampoos and conditioners as the chemicals in these substances may cause tarnish or make your jewelry look dull.

Is vermeil hypoallergenic?

Gold vermeil can be considered hypoallergenic, but it depends on how it has been made. The main metal that causes allergic reactions is nickel, which might be found in the gold plating layer of gold vermeil jewelry if it’s not from a reputable manufacturer. At Linjer, all of our gold vermeil jewelry is nickel free and suitable for all skin types. We have never had a customer tell us that they had an allergic reaction to our jewelry!

Is gold vermeil fake?

Gold vermeil is not fake. True gold vermeil is made of precious metals and is considered an excellent alternative to solid gold jewelry. Unlike fine jewelry, “fake” costume jewelry is usually made of inexpensive base metals such as copper, aluminum or brass with imitation gemstones; it virtually holds zero market value. Costume jewelry tends to tarnish easily and can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. As the name suggests, costume jewelry is best suited for one-time wear and costume parties!

Gold vermeil on the other hand uses 925 silver as its base metal layered with real gold. Thanks to its durability and resilience, gold vermeil jewelry are styles you can keep in your closet for the many years ahead!

Should I buy gold vermeil?

In the realm of gold jewelry, gold vermeil is the best quality jewelry you can get short of buying solid gold. For people who want a cheap, high quality alternative to solid gold, vermeil is your answer!