What is gold vermeil?
Gold vermeil is a popular metal used in jewellery. Gold vermeil features a sterling silver base material and plated with gold that is at least 10 carats. To be officially titled gold vermeil in Australia, the gold plating needs to be at least 1 micron thick.
A micron is 1/1000th of a millimetre, which doesn’t sound like much, but 1 micron ensures a sturdy coat of gold. So the sterling silver is essentially ‘hidden’ inside. This makes gold vermeil look just like typical gold jewellery, but without the price tag that comes with 24 carat or 18 carat gold.
Technical requirements of gold vermeil
To officially join the gold vermeil club, a piece must have:
- a sterling silver base material with 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other materials such as brass or copper
- be plated in gold that is at least 10 carats - which is 41.7% gold content
- have gold plating that is at least 1 micron thick
- a perfect parallel parking record
(Okay, the last one is sketchy, but the top three criteria are very strict.)
Benefits of gold vermeil
Because it’s not 100% gold, it is cheaper to produce than solid gold. And due to the thickness of the micron, there is little chance of the outer layer rubbing off and fading to show the silver.
The sterling silver’s strength also ensures the reliability of the piece, making it sturdier, less bendable — meaning it’s more likely to last longer. Nothing is indestructible of course, but a stronger piece is more likely to last the distance and withstand bumps and knocks that come with everyday wear.
Gold vermeil jewellery versus gold-plated jewellery
Gold-plated jewellery has some important distinctions:
- it has a thinner outer later, at least 0.5 microns thick. If you’re good at maths, you’ll notice that’s about half the thickness of gold vermeil (which is 1 micron)
- it doesn’t have sterling silver as the base metal, so it typically has a less valuable material as the core
- the application technique varies; it is typically sprayed on rather than dipped
So, when compared to gold vermeil, gold-plated jewellery tends to:
- wear more easily so the outer layer risks fading, peeling or stretching to show the metal alloy within
- be cheaper to manufacture and purchase
- be less strong and more breakable and bendable, due to the cheaper alloy metal used as the base
- have fewer Instagram followers
When it comes to price, gold-plated jewellery wins — it’s cheaper!
When it comes to quality, gold vermeil wins — it’s better!
When it comes to fanciness, gold vermeil also wins — it’s French, which is tres sophistiqué!
Gold vermeil versus solid gold
But what about solid gold jewellery — how does gold vermeil compare?
Gold comes in 24 carat (like Bruno Mars sings about) and lower grades. 24 carat is the most pure form, but is a bit orange. It is quite soft and therefore more scratchable. So, manufacturers combine gold with other alloys to create a more reliable, structurally sound jewellery.
So 24 carat gold has the highest amount of pure gold, 18 carat has a bit less and so on, down to about 10 carat which is just over 40% pure gold.
So the good thing about gold vermeil compared to gold is it’s a sturdier, more reliable piece to wear as jewellery, which is prone to bumps and scratches. Naturally, it’s also cheaper.
And due to the outer layer of gold, it looks just the same as the real thing, without the price tag.
What is rose gold vermeil?
If you love the rose gold look, you can also buy rose gold vermeil jewellery. It’s similar to gold vermeil in all aspects, except the outer layer tends to have 75% gold and 25% copper, which gives it that lovely, pretty, pinky gold colour.
Will gold vermeil tarnish?
Technically, it can tarnish, due to the base layer being sterling silver. The thick layer of gold tends to protect against tarnish, so it’s unlikely. However a polish with our cleaning cloth will help remove any tarnish that does occur.
Caring for your gold vermeil jewellery
As with any other jewellery, we recommend regular cleaning with a small amount of gentle dish soap and warm water. Scrub gently with a soft toothbrush and allow to completely dry on a tea towel.
When not wearing your gold vermeil jewellery, keep it in a dark, dry location, ideally in its own packaging.
How do you pronounce gold vermeil?
It’s French, so you say it as ‘vehr-may’. Ooh la la!
Ready to buy gold vermeil jewellery in Australia?