Gold Vermeil: Understanding the Plating Process

Gold vermeil (pronounced vehr-may) is a high-end gold plating technique that uses sterling silver or fine silver as its base metal. Sterling silver is 92.5% silver, and fine silver is 99.9% silver making them high-value products. Gold vermeil stands out from other forms of gold plating because the piece of metal underneath the plating is pretty valuable.

Requirements For Gold Vermeil

While there are many ways of gold plating, there are specific requirements that any piece of jewelry must meet to be classed as gold vermeil. In the United States, the legal definition of gold vermeil is any material that meets the three requirements of base metal, gold purity, and plating thickness.

1. The Base Metal

Different types of metal can have a gold plating over them, but gold vermeil has to have sterling or fine silver as its base. Sterling silver is a metal alloy consisting of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, while fine silver is 99.9% silver or pure silver. Sterling silver jewelry is usually marked with a stamp of “925”.

2. Gold Purity

Any jewelry that would be appropriately defined as gold vermeil cannot be plated with low purity gold. Gold vermeil has to be plated with a gold layer with a purity of at least ten karats; however, this can go as high as 24-karat gold.

3. Plating Thickness

The thickness of the gold plating is also another vital requirement because silver that is flash plated with a fragile layer of gold cannot be called gold vermeil. These thin gold layers can easily wash off or be damaged; however, the plating of gold vermeil must have at least 2.5 microns thick. For context, 1 micron is equal to 1/1000th of a millimeter.

Is Gold Vermeil Good Quality?

Gold vermeil is the best grade and longest-lasting alternative to real gold if you use and maintain it properly. However, you should know that gold vermeil can tarnish because the base layer is Sterling silver; the good thing to note again is that silver can be effortlessly polished, and the tarnish will disappear.

Typically, gold vermeil does not tarnish quickly because of the thick covering of gold over it. It is the most satisfactory solution for individuals who don’t want to spend significant money on real gold.

How To Maintain Gold Vermeil

Jewelry made of gold vermeil is usually very durable; however, this doesn’t mean that it would last forever. You can take some steps to maintain gold vermeil and make the jewelry last longer.

  1. Chemicals from makeup, perfume, hairspray, and lotions can all damage the beauty and luster of your Gold Vermeil jewelry, so put it on last when getting ready.
  2. When washing your hands, showering, or swimming, remove your jewelry since water and chemicals (particularly chlorine) will shorten the life of the gold plating. 
  3. Do not put on your gold vermeil rings when you are about to wash or do some chores involving your hands that get wet. When doing these chores, wearing your gold vermeil ring can cause it to wear out faster. If for some reason, you still want to wear your rings while you do these chores, you should put on rubber gloves.
  4. Always use a jewelry polishing cloth to polish your gold vermeil jewelry so that it can recover its luster.
  5. Do not use abrasive liquids or cleaning powders, as these will wear away the layers of gold. Household cleaners that have acids and abrasives are also harmful to your jewelry.
  6. Don’t use your jewelry in the bath or shower to prevent a build-up of soapy film on the gold.

How To Clean Gold Vermeil

Like every other material, gold vermeil jewelry requires constant cleaning to keep them shining as brightly as it can. This cleaning needs to be done regularly and not with abrasive or moisturizing cleaners to avoid scratches or wet film getting stuck on your jewelry. Also, it’s great that you can carry out the cleaning in the comfort of your home if you follow the steps below:

  1. Soak your solid gold jewelry for 15 to 30 minutes in a bowl of lukewarm water with a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid. Lukewarm water is preferred for this cleaning process because freezing water would harden the dirt. In contrast, boiling water might displace any attached precious stones.
  2. Once the soaking period is over, scrub the jewelry gently with a soft-bristle toothbrush; this would cause any hidden dirt to come off.
  3. Rinse the jewelry in running water to remove any remaining dirt and clean off the soap.
  4. Use a soft towel to pat the jewelry and use a hand dryer to complete the drying process, or you can leave it to dry naturally.

Advantages Of Buying Gold Vermeil

Gold vermeil is the gold type of choice for many jewelry buyers, and here are some of the reasons why:

1. Balance Of Quality And Price

Apart from buying pure gold, the next best thing is gold vermeil; however, gold vermeil jewelry won’t make you break the bank. 

2. It’s Unlikely To Cause Allergies And Skin Irritations

Some people cannot use cheap jewelry because of their skin reactions and allergies to the high nickel content in most metals. However, sterling silver (gold vermeil’s base metal) is hypoallergenic and won’t cause such reactions in most people.

3. It’s Highly Durable

Gold vermeil jewelry generally lasts longer than gold-plated jewelry, although how you use it matters a lot. If you take proper care of your jewelry, you can use it for years.

4. It looks Like Pure Gold

Because gold vermeil is covered with high purity gold (at least ten karats) looks just like pure gold with naked eyes. When you buy vermeil jewelry, you can have all the luster of pure gold at a fraction of the price.

5. It Doesn’t Discolor The Skin

Some metals can cause skin discoloration, especially in the case of rings; however, gold vermeil rings do not have this issue.

Which Is Better Gold-plated Or Vermeil?

In a word, vermeil! Most jewelry enthusiasts would readily pick gold vermeil as a higher quality option than gold-plated. However, to choose for yourself, you must know the difference between both types of gold.

First off, gold plating can be done on any metal, and gold vermeil must be done on sterling silver. Also, a significant distinction is the thickness of the gold layer; vermeil has a minimum thickness of 2.5 microns which is five times gold plating’s minimum of 0.5 microns. This higher thickness makes gold vermeil a more durable option than gold plating, as the gold layer would not wear off so quickly.

Vermeil is of higher quality than gold-plated jewelry; however, gold–plated is undoubtedly the better option if the price is most important to you. People who want to buy jewelry that they only want to use for a short period or want to experiment with a new kind of jewelry might prefer gold-plated. However, if you desire high-quality jewelry that will last long, gold vermeil is best for you.

How Long Will Gold Vermeil Last?

If proper care is taken, vermeil jewelry can retain its beauty for years; however, for jewelry worn regularly, signs of wear might begin to appear after about six months. The wear and tear are usually more familiar with rings because they typically have direct contact with the skin and are exposed to harsher conditions as people use their hands. 

Gold vermeil made with the best quality materials and processes is significantly more durable than other gold-plated choices. No matter the jewelry’s quality, you’d hardly find a jeweler who would offer a refund or give a warranty of more than six months on vermeil jewelry. However, you can easily replate vermeil jewelry to restore the layer of gold that is wearing away.

Is Gold Vermeil Better Than 14k Gold?

Gold vermeil is not better than 14-karat gold because it does not have the same gold content. Because 100% pure gold is usually too soft and impractical to use, gold is mixed with other metals, and the purity of gold is measured in karats. Twenty-four karats are the purest form of gold, and the lower the number, the more impure the gold is.

14 karat gold is costly and has many times more durability than gold vermeil. While gold vermeil has a higher gold content than gold-plated, the base metal is still silver, and the gold is just a layer on top. 14 karat gold, on the other hand, has 14 parts of gold and ten parts of silver, making gold the majority of base metal in the piece of jewelry. Some gold vermeil uses 14 karat gold to layer underneath the sterling silver as the plating.

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