Vermeil vs gold-plated vs gold-filled jewelry: What is its meaning?

All the terminologies in this industry might be confusing for someone shopping for jewelry. You might wonder what the difference is between vermeil and gold-filled accessories. Or why solid gold jewelry is different from gold-plated ones? 

Gold is one of the most precious materials used for making jewelry. It is also expensive, which is why the jewelry made out of real solid gold has such a high price tag. Depending on your budget, many options are available. They range from cheap plated ones all the way to solid gold jewelry, which has the purest materials.

Do not worry about being confused further. This article is intended to help you, and we will present you with the different types of jewelry. Whether it is gold plated, vermeil, gold filled, or solid jewelry that you are interested in, we got you covered. 

vermeil necklace

Types of gold jewelry

If you have been wondering about the differences in jewelry, look at the different types below.

Gold-plated

gold-plated bracelet

In the case of plated accessories, they will be mostly made of base metal. This metal can be either brass or copper. A thin layer is applied to this base metal to create the plated jewelry.

But because this layer is very thin, the precious material can wear off quite easily. Exposure to various liquids or chemicals is also prone to tarnishing. Gold itself does not corrode. It is a key element of this metal. But copper or brass will, especially when exposed to air, lotion, or perfume. 

Gold-plated accessories are the cheapest you can find because they only use small quantities of this material, which are applied on top of base metal. It is a good option if you need something temporary, like wearing something impressive for a special occasion. 

Gold Vermeil

Vermeil is similar to plated jewelry in some ways. However, the base metal used here is silver. 2.5 microns of gold are applied on top of it, as US standards require it. In some countries, this layer is thinner. For example, Canada has a 1.0-micron standard, so you should find out about your jewelry’s country of origin. 

If you have allergies to metals, rest assured that vermeil is hypoallergenic. You can wear it safely and even feel comfortable while doing so. Because the layer is thicker than the one applied to plated pieces, it will last longer. However, it can still wear off over the years in areas with a lot of contacts. 

It can also be added to rings like this one and even nose rings.

Gold filled

Because the filled pieces are only available in sheet or wire form, they have some limitations. These limitations appear because of the way it is manufactured, and filled jewelry cannot be poured into a mold. 

Here’s an example of a chain.

gold filled chain

These pieces are either flat or hollow and have almost 100 times more gold than plated jewelry. The material is manually bonded to the base and cannot rub off. They are great for people with allergies to metals, as this material will not be a sensitive problem.

Solid gold

solid gold necklace

Solid gold jewelry has no base metal, or layers applied on top. They are purely made of gold, but they differ in karats, determining the amount. Pure gold at 24k is way too soft to wear in jewelry, so it is often alloyed with other metals to increase durability. In 18k solid jewelry, 18 parts are made of this material, and 6 are made of alloys. 

Usually, the price goes down as the karats go lower. It is because they contain less material. After all, you are paying the price for a precious material. It is the best quality you can get in jewelry. You can wear it every day, and the material won’t fade. But it is the most expensive and some people cannot afford it. 

What is gold vermeil jewelry?

In the US, vermeil jewelry has a legal definition. It is any jewelry piece with a sterling silver base with a solid layer applied on top. There is a set of rules and requirements that it has to follow. 

Firstly, sterling silver has to be used as the base material. This material is the standard precious metal that makes for a highly durable and resistant base. A plated layer ranging from 14 to 24 karats must be applied at a thickness of 2.5 microns. Vermeil is made to last. 

It might sound similar to plated pieces, but vermeil features a much thicker layer. Unlike cheap jewelry, this one will not fade or wear off quickly. This is the highest quality you can find besides solid and will last a long time even with typical use and wear.

This is the best option for those that want high-quality without spending too much on solid. Because the layer is thicker, vermeil will not tarnish over time. Be advised that vermeil is not waterproof, as the minerals present in the water can slowly damage the piece over time.

Here’s an example with a diamond ring.

vermeil ring

Showering with vermeil daily is not recommended because the soaps and shampoos you use will react with the metals. You should also remove the accessories whenever you enter the pool or the ocean because they can damage your precious jewelry beyond repair. 

What is 18k gold vermeil?

Real gold is electroplated over the silver base of your jewelry. This makes the piece highly valuable and very durable. The minimum standard is for at least 10 karats to be applied, but you can find pieces with different karats.

For vermeil, you will typically find layers of 10k, 14k, or 18k. Most pieces are made out of 18k, which is the most popular coating option. 

Is vermeil real gold?

Vermeil has a higher quality than plated pieces. It also means the material is real, and the precious material is of the highest quality. While they are similar, the difference between the two is made by the thickness of the layer. Because vermeil has a thicker layer than real gold, it will last longer and will not wear off easily.

Nowadays, vermeil jewelry is created by electroplating the silver base with real gold in a chemical process that uses an electrical current. This way, the two materials bind together easily with higher precision. In the US, vermeil pieces must have at least a 2.5-micron thickness, and the precious material should be 10 karats or higher.  

To ensure durability, long-lasting materials will be used. That is why 18 karat is the most commonly used in vermeil jewelry. This material is combined with alloy components and strong materials. 

Vermeil vs. 14k gold

Vermeil usually has a layer of gold applied to the jewelry, ranging from 10k to 18k. While 18 karat is more common, there are options available with 14 karats as well.

14 karat pieces have 14 percent gold and 10 percent other metals. It makes 14k more expensive than 10 karats because it has a higher concentration of this precious material. However, it will be cheaper than 18k because it has a lower concentration. 

Most people would assume that 14 karat is better than 10 karats simply because it has a higher percentage of this material. While this is true, keep in mind that this is a soft metal and very sensible. That is why it is mixed with other highly durable minerals to ensure long-lasting usage.

14 karat will be a better choice in many more situations. For example, some people are allergic to metals and have special requirements. That is why they cannot wear jewelry with strong alloys on a daily basis. Solid ones are better for them, as they are pure gold. 

But since solid gold is always more expensive, choosing the vermeil piece with the highest karats within the budget limit is better. This way, the hypoallergenic features will make wearing more comfortable by those highly sensitive to some metals. 

Does gold vermeil tarnish?

Most of the time, vermeil will not tarnish. This is because it is high quality and will last a long time with typical use and wear. Only solid ones are better than vermeil but are also more expensive. Compared to plated jewelry, you can find a thicker layer in these ones.

Because the layer is thicker, you will experience less wear. You can use this piece every single day under several conditions without worrying about the layer coming off. However, vermeil is not waterproof. You should not use it under water. 

Necklace – Kendra Scott Women’s Davie Pendant 18K Necklace

This high-quality necklace is an excellent addition to your collection. It’s made out of sterling silver coated with a thick layer. This piece is made to last while also looking exceptional on you. 

The manufacturer applied a heavy coat of 18 karat gold, but they also have options available in 18 karats rose gold. Because the plating is heavier, this piece is more resistant to wear and tear. If you want to purchase this as a gift for a special person, the package will arrive in a genuine branded gift box with a jewelry bag included. 

They are ideal for Valentine’s day or wedding anniversaries. Your partner will surely appreciate the gesture, especially when they realize this product’s originality and high-quality features. You can pair this necklace with a nice piece of vermeil earrings, which will complement the look. Avoid contact with perfume or hair cleaning products, as they can damage this piece.

Before swimming or exercising, make sure to remove the necklace and store it in a safe place. These products are not waterproof and will get damaged by the minerals in the water. You can also store this jewelry piece in the pouch with it when you get your order. 

What is gold-plated?

Plated jewelry represents a more budget-friendly option. It is cheaper than buying pure gold jewelry and will give you the same look and style at a lower price. Plated pieces are ideal if you don’t want to wear them on a daily basis. 

There are many levels of quality, and it all depends on the thickness and the purity of the precious material used for coating. The base metal used also plays a significant role in the overall quality of this product. Once the piece has been plated with gold, it is hard to tell whether it has real gold or just a thin layer applied. 

The plating process involves applying a thin layer of gold onto a base metal. This process is quite common, and an Italian chemist invented it in 1805. 

What is gold-filled?

Filled jewelry is usually made of a solid layer of gold that has been mechanically bonded to a base. This base can either be of a strong and durable metal or sterling silver. Gold-filled jewelry will easily last 10 to 30 years if you care for it. However, the layer will eventually wear off and expose the base metal underneath as time passes.

The layer is 10 times thicker on filled items when you compare them to regular plated ones. Either way, the aspect looks the same. It is hard for the untrained eye to tell the difference between solid or filled pieces. 

Vermeil vs. gold-plated vs. gold-filled jewelry

FactorsGold VermeilGold PlatedGold Filled
Manufacturing ProcessElectroplating dipped or paintedElectroplating dipped or paintBonding by heat or pressure
Base LayerSterling SilverAlloy or BrassSterling Silver or Brass
Thickness0 to 3 micronLess than 0.1 micronAt least 3 micron
DurabilityDepending on the quality, it can last up to 6 monthsLasting from 1 week to 3 monthsExceptional quality that will last for years
Manufacturing costA little expensive because of the baseCheapest optionThe most expensive option due to the process
Most valuable (from 1 to 3)231

FAQ

Is vermeil good quality?

Short answer: Yes. It is a popular method of manufacturing high-quality jewelry that is affordable to many. This process creates exceptional accessories for you to wear, which are also highly durable and resistant. 

Is vermeil real gold?

It has real gold, just like standard gold plating or solid pieces. High percentages of alloy are used for manufacturing the jewelry, which can be coated with gold ranging from 10 to 18 karats.

Is gold vermeil worth buying?

If you are interested in purchasing jewelry but are not ready to spend a large sum on solid and real gold, then vermeil is an option you should consider. Most people consider it an exceptional substitute for real gold jewelry. 

In the end, it is up to you whether you want to style or durability. Some pieces will last long, while others are intended for rare use, such as at a special event. That is why they are cheaper and more affordable, as they are not intended for everyday use.

Does gold vermeil wear off?

Because it has a thicker layer than plated pieces, vermeil ones are less likely to fade or wear off. While the degradation of the product will occur over time, it is longer lasting than plated pieces and will tarnish more quickly. 

How long does gold vermeil last?

With proper care and maintenance, it will last you up to 30 years. You can do more research and learn about cleaning and caring for your jewelry to prevent tarnishing that comes with more frequent usage.