What is Gold Vermeil?
Gold vermeil has been increasing in popularity but interestingly enough, not many people know what this is. Although vermeil might seem like a new trend, this type of metal has existed for centuries.
If you are into jewelry that looks like gold, vermeil may interest you. It is an affordable and durable alternative to real gold. Although there are other similar options as well, such as gold-plate and gold-filled.
So, what is Gold Vermeil?
In short, vermeil refers to a variety of gold-coated metal. For metal to be considered vermeil, it needs to meet three main trade criteria:
- The base of the metal must be of 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 of at least 10 karats
- The thickness of the gold coat should consist of a minimum of 2.5 microns (0.0025 millimeters)
If these three criteria are not met, then the metal becomes gold-filled or gold-plated. You can also find gold vermeil in a variety colors such as rose gold, white gold and so on.
How is Gold Vermeil made?
To create gold vermeil, the item is first crafted in fine or sterling silver and is then covered in gold using the process known as electrolysis. In the past, vermeil was crafted using the process of fire-gilding, but this was later banned due to the dangers inherent in this process, especially the issue with mercury causing blindness. Electrolysis results in a consistent thickness and quality that is capable of lasting for a very long time.
How long does Gold Vermeil last?
The durability of your gold vermeil actually depends on the thickness of the gold plating. In other words, gold is the primary factor when determining whether or not the gold vermeil will last. As a general rule of thumb, the thicker the gold plating, the longer the life of the piece.
Another factor to consider is the purity of the vermeil. As you may know, the higher the purity of gold, the softer it is and more susceptible to scratches and damage. If you would want gold vermeil that will last for a long time, buying 14 k or 18 k gold vermeil is recommended. Anything higher will be too soft and lower would not have the color of gold you may be after.
How does Gold Vermeil differ from Gold-Plated and Gold-Filled?
Gold vermeil, gold-plated and gold-filled jewelry are very similar in concept. Only slight differences in execution and materials distinguish these three methods:
Gold Plated– There is no standard metal or gold thickness when it comes to gold-plate. You can find gold plate in a variety of thicknesses and on a range of varying metals and alloys. With gold-plating, there is the high likelihood of the gold finish wearing out and chipping over time as the gold coating is very thin.
Gold-filled jewelry 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!
How do you maintain Gold Vermeil?
With proper care and maintenance, gold vermeil jewelry can keep sparkling through the years. Here are some tips for cleaning and storing your gold vermeil jewelry.
- When you aren’t wearing your gold vermeil jewelry, store it in a fabric-lined box, or a soft cloth away from dust and dirt. An airtight box is ideal as it can minimize the oxidization of the silver base.
- Avoid placing your gold vermeil near heat as this can cause discoloration and deformation. Also, don’t place any weight on top of gold vermeil jewelry as this can cause damage.
- To prevent tarnishing, wipe gold vermeil jewelry after use. The accumulation of body oils, cosmetics and grime can cause the jewelry to lose its sparkle and to fade.
- Avoid wiping gold vermeil items with coarse fabrics or chemicals as this can strip the gold off. Only use a 100% cotton or microfiber cloth to very softly wipe the item and warm soapy water.
- Never use chemicals to clean gold vermeil jewelry. This refers to makeup, washing liquid and even chlorine from swimming pools. These can discolor the jewelry and strip the gold off.
Gold vermeil is the ideal choice if you love the look of gold but affordability gets in your way. It gives you the look without the steep price. The main reasons people choose gold vermeil over the other two is because it is more affordable than gold fill and more valuable than gold plate. Make your decision based on your preferences and what you deem is important.