What is Gold Vermeil?
Learn What Gold Vermeil Is and Why You Should Consider Adding Some to Your Jewelry Collection.
Gold Vermeil (pronounced vur-MAY) is genuine sterling silver that has been specially plated with a thick layer of 14k-24k gold.
- Gold Vermeil is the perfect option for those with metal allergies due to the durable thickness of the gold combined with the base of sterling silver.
- Gold vermeil is an "insider's secret" of discerning jewelry buyers as premium materials (silver and gold) are used, but allows for more affordable designer jewelry than solid gold.
- With high-end jewelry designers embracing the trend, now is the perfect time to add some to your collection.
Vermeil - Premium Jewelry with Sensible Pricing
A recent promotion? A special occasion? Or just because?
If you're wanting to commemorate or celebrate (and still have some $$$ left for retirement) it's time to consider adding a gold vermeil piece (or two) to your jewelry collection!
What is gold vermeil anyway?
Vermeil (pronounced vur-MAY) is a very specific type of premium gold finish.
Simply put, it is a combination of a very thick layer of gold over high-quality sterling silver.
In addition to use in designer jewelry, this metal combination is sometimes found in high-end cutlery, tableware, and luxury 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 now using vermeil jewelry to build their personal jewelry collections. The cost/quality balance allows them to be confident in the material and workmanship while still having the look and feel of collections costing many times more than what they actually do. In fact, because of its popularity in designer circles, gold vermeil jewelry has become one of the top "insider secrets" of the designer jewelry world.
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:
- Base of either steel or brass (inferior base metals),
- Piece is VERY quickly dipped in gold
- Thin gold finish can wear off easily
- Exposes the wearer to base metal allergies
Decent Quality - Gold Filled:
- Base of either brass or copper
- Outside is sheets of 10+ karat gold
- Doesn't wear off quite as easily as gold plated
- Still potential for metal allergy with inferior base metal
Highest Quality - Gold Vermeil:
- Base of high-quality sterling silver
- A thick gold layer of at least 10k
- Most of the time 14k-24k gold is used
- Industry regulated gold thickness of no less than 2.5 microns (very thick).
What Does Vermeil Look Like?
We have hundreds of examples on our site. We have assembled some our favorites into a collection that we constantly update with the latest designs from the runways of Milan and the shows of Vicenza.
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, 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?
Cleaning gold vermeil jewelry is simple. 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.
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."