March 14, 2017

Learn What Gold Vermeil Is and Why You Should Consider Buying Some.

Gold vermeil jewelry has been around for a while, but with high-end designers embracing the trend, now is the perfect time to add some to your collection.
Read our guide to decide if it's right for you.

Keyword(s): vermeil

Life is too short to wear boring jewelry 

Is it time for a new piece of jewelry

A recent promotion? A special occasion? Or just because?  

It's time to consider adding a gold vermeil piece to your jewelry collection!

Gold Vermeil Necklace

What is gold vermeil anyway?

Vermeil (pronounced vur-MAY) is a special type of premium gold finish.

Simply put, it is a combination of a very thick layer of gold (10 karat or above) over high-quality sterling silver.

In addition to use in luxury jewelry, this metal combination is also found in high-end cutlery, tableware, and home decor offerings. The White House has a Vermeil Room dedicated to an extensive and unique collection of vermeil pieces including cutlery and even a wine cooler

Vermeil is making big waves in designer jewelry. 

Gold vermeil is quickly becoming a favorite of the top jewelry designers around the world. It allows them to deliver high-quality jewelry pieces that look like they might cost a small fortune, but are actually fairly priced for both consumers and designers.

It really is the best of both worlds - all of the exclusivity, beauty, and quality of designer jewelry, but at prices that won't break the bank.

Many fashion savvy women are using vermeil jewelry to build jewelry collections that have the look and feel of collections costing many times more than what they actually do. 

Vermeil (Gold, Platinum, Rose)

 

What's The Difference Between Gold Vermeil and Other Gold Plated Options? 

Great question. There is no shortage of gold-plated or gold-filled jewelry out there. But there are big differences - mainly in quality and long-term value.

Poor Quality - Gold Plated:

  • there is a base of either steel or brass (inferior base metals),
  • the piece is quickly dipped in gold, 
  • the gold finish can wear off, and
  • exposes any base metal allergies to the wearer. 

 Decent Quality - Gold Filled:

  • there is still a base of either brass or copper,
  • the outside is sheets of 10+ karat gold,
  • which doesn't wear off quite as easily. 

Highest Quality - Gold Vermeil:

  • a premium silver base (at least 92.5% for sterling silver),
  • a thick gold layer of at least 10 karats,
  • often uses 24 karat gold, and 
  • the gold thickness must be no less than 2.5 microns (very thick).

What Does Vermeil Look Like?

Great question!

We have hundreds of examples on our site. Here are some of our favorites: 

PRIVATE COLLECTION 24K GOLD VERMEIL OMEGA NECKLACE


RADIANCE 20-STRAND NECKLACE IN TRI-COLOR VERMEIL


PRIVATE COLLECTION LARGE HOOP EARRINGS IN GOLD VERMEIL

ITALIAN FANCY DISC BRACELET IN RHODIUM VERMEIL

PRIVATE COLLECTION 30" MOON CUT BEAD NECKLACE IN 24K GOLD VERMEIL

RADIANCE 3-RING NECKLACE W/CRYSTALS IN TRI-COLOR VERMEIL

 

Note: Many designer jewelry pieces retain the "silver look" by using platinum vermeil or rhodium (platinum family) vermeil. 

Where Did It Come From?

The finest vermeil finishes for jewelry come from Italy. Families of artisans have perfected this craft and passed it down from one generation to another. In addition, there is strict quality oversight to protect Italy's reputation as a world-class jewelry production center. 

Vermeil jewelry imported from Italy must also meet the U.S. regulation standards, so there are layers of quality control built into every genuine piece of gold vermeil jewelry. 

Historically, this jewelry has been made from either: 

  • fire-gilding, or
  • electrolysis. 

Fire-gilding, the original process, came from mid-18th century France.  But this process was later banned because it used mercury and caused blindness!

Electrolysis is the safer and most often used method today. There are many nuances that affect the quality of the process, but essentially, it uses direct electric currents to create a chemical reaction. This evolved process (when done by skilled craftsmen) results in a more consistent thickness and quality that will last a lifetime. 

What About Durability? 

Durability is all about the karat and the coverage.  

The greater the karat the more durable the piece. 24 karat gold is "pure" gold. But pure here doesn't mean it's only gold when turned into a piece of jewelry.

Gold is a soft metal.

So, in jewelry, which requires a certain amount of durability, alloys are often used. An alloy is a metal that is combined with gold to increase durability. 

Like all gold jewelry, vermeil follows suit. If you are looking for the most durable kind of jewelry, you'll look for 24 karat gold plating on the piece, but even 10 karat vermeil is better quality than other gold plated alternatives.  

Thickness is also important. The thicker the plating, the longer it will last.

You will want to look for the quality of the core alloy. Vermeil makes this easy for you.  As genuine vermeil will always have a core alloy of sterling silver.  

If there is a base metal over the sterling silver, it must be disclosed per U.S. regulations. 

Micron plating is what it is all about.  

This is the thickness of the gold. Micron plating at minimum is 1 micron, where it becomes measurable. But for this type of jewelry, the required minimum is 2.5.  

What Should I Look For in Purchasing? 

When buying anything, price matters - but quality should matter just as much.  

Take the time to find a reputable manufacturer and consider quality when comparing prices.  A good rule of thumb is, if the vermeil jewelry piece is priced similarly to a sterling silver piece or unplated gold piece of jewelry, then it's likely not really vermeil.  

This is often an issue of "getting what you pay for."

This type of jewelry is often more expensive than gold plating, but obviously less expensive than pure gold, and:

  • there is no risk of allergic reaction to an unknown core metal (because all core metals in vermeil is sterling or pure silver),
  • there is usually a higher grade of gold used,
  • is more durable since it's required to have a minimum of 2.5 microns, where a lot of gold plating is simply a thin layer that often wears off, and 
  • it is malleable for artists to create unique designs. 

In order to tell that you are purchasing the real thing and not gold plated pieces is to look at the coloration and the weight. 

This kind of gold jewelry is usually sold with 14 karats (minimum), 18 karats, or 24 karat yellow gold, or in a rose gold.

Less expensive gold plated pieces are usually 10 karats. 

While gold plated jewelry has a known marking system (GP, HGP, RGP, HGE, or GEP), vermeil does not. 

What you can look for is a stamp with a standard silver purity value. This will tell you that the core metal is silver. If you see 925 it would denote 92.5% silver...letting you know that the core metal is a 92.5% silver alloy. 

How Do I Care for Vermeil? 

As with any piece of jewelry, you need to keep it free from dust, makeup, aerosols, and any pollution. So, as normal, apply any perfume and makeup prior to putting on this jewelry. 

When not being worn, keep your jewelry in the box or bag that it came in. Ensure it is not stored near a heat source and doesn't have weight on top of it. This type of jewelry needs to be stored in an airtight bag or box.

Also, if you plan on jumping in a pool or hot tub, remove your jewelry first. Not doing so can cause discoloration. 

To clean your jewelry, use a soft, dry 100% cotton cloth or microfiber. Buff gently. Chemicals will strip the finish!

Tarnishing is natural, but platinum or rhodium vermeil will prevent sterling silver from looking tarnished. Consider this when purchasing.  

Final Thoughts

Buying a piece of jewelry is a special occasion. Whether it is your birthday, you got a raise, or you just want something beautiful. 

Vermeil is a great option. It provides peace of mind for quality, as there are regulations and standards for its production.  The options are endless for design styles, colors, and finish. 

To see a large collection of pieces of varying designs, colors, and prices, check out Roma's collection of vermeil jewelry.   

And when you show your new piece off to your friends, remember to pronounce it, "vur-MAY."



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