What Is Vermeil? (And Why You Should Own Some)

What Is Vermeil? (And Why You Should Own Some)

What Is Vermeil? (And Why You Should Own Some)

Vermeil is one of the hottest luxury jewelry trends happening now. But what is vermeil and how is it different than pure gold? Keep reading to find out!

Keyword(s): what is vermeil


Vermeil jewelry is one of the hottest trends right now as it strikes the perfect balance between quality and value. Many people tend to confuse vermeil with gold plating, and even though they do share a few aspects, there is a big difference in quality, durability, and desirability.  

When shopping for jewelry, it helps to differentiate between these two options.

Ideally, there are several factors, including composition, thickness, and base metal, that contributes to determining if a piece of jewelry is vermeil.

So, what is vermeil?

Let's learn more about this premium gold finish.

What is Vermeil?

Typically, vermeil is a type of gold-finished material that is composed of a thick layer of gold over solid sterling silver. Industry standards dictate that the gold portion must be 10 karats or above for a piece to be considered vermeil in the U.S., but most high-quality pieces are 14, 18, or 24 karats depending on the thickness of the jewelry.

The thickness of the gold portion is what really sets vermeil jewelry apart from simple gold plated pieces. The thickness of the gold portion must be a hefty 2.5 microns.

If you want to build a collection of high-quality jewelry without the pure gold price tag,  gold vermeil is a fantastic option. 

Vermeil usually looks like gold to the naked eye, making it a great alternative for those who can't afford pure gold jewelry. You can also shine it up to give it a beautiful gloss, or leave it to tarnish for a vintage look.

Unlike other gold jewelry, vermeil is usually thinner, and the gold layer is achieved by using gold leaf or powder instead of a sheet of gold.

Another key factor here is that a vermeil piece must have a sterling silver base (instead of brass or cheaper metals).

What is Gold Plating?

In gold plating, any metal can be used as the base, and the gold layer can be of varying levels of purity. This will result in a variety of thicknesses for the gold coating.

Gold plated pieces are cheaper than vermeil jewelry as they use any metal to create the core for the plating.

This can be steel or brass, which is dipped in gold to form a thin layer of gold plating. However, the coating can wear out eventually, leaving your jewelry with the base only.

Vermeil Is Not Solid Gold

Even though vermeil has a lot of gold than gold-plated pieces, it is important to understand that it is not gold.

So, it's simply sterling silver with a layer of gold. You need to careful when purchasing vermeil pieces as they almost look like gold.

Yellow gold is the most popular color for these pieces, but you will also find some in pink gold and Hamilton gold.

Vermeil jewelry pieces are made through electroplating, which can be done in two ways:

  • Micron plating: This method involves measuring the thickness of the gold layer. This is necessary when plating jewelry pieces and watches. Micron plating is used in making vermeil jewelry.
  • Flash plating: Here, gold is dipped into the electroplating solution for a short time, and then the gold ends up coating the piece. This is common in gold-plating.

So, when shopping for gold products, keep these details in mind to ensure that you get something worth your bucks.

How to Care for Vermeil

This is an important part when answering the question: what is vermeil?

Now that you have some clarity on the question "what is vermeil?" it helps to understand how to care for your vermeil pieces.

Dust, pollution, perfumes, and cosmetics can affect the surface of your pieces. This might affect the gloss, something that you certainly don't want to happen.

First, you should always apply perfume before wearing your pieces. Also, remember to remove them before taking a shower.

Try as much as possible to avoid exposing your jewelry to cleaners, hot water, and harsh chemicals. Ideally, you want to remove them before handling such solutions.

Substances, such as chlorine, can permanently damage the surface of your piece. Bear this in mind when using chlorine bleach or before diving in the pool.

When not using your vermeil pieces, remember to store them in an airtight container to prevent oxidation.

To clean your jewelry, use a clean cotton or microfiber cloth to buff it gently. Don't be tempted to use chemical cleaners as they can easily strip the gold finish.

Over time, the gold layer is likely to tarnish. This is a common and natural property that adds a unique sense of character to the piece. Don't fret when that happens.

How to Buy VermeilWhat is Gold Vermeil?

Buying a piece of vermeil jewelry can be a reasonable investment if you know what you want. If care for well, a good vermeil piece will last for decades. See examples.

As you already know, there are different gold products in the market when it comes to jewelry. The biggest problem is that gold jewelry pieces are easy to replicate.

Unreliable sellers can take this advantage to sell you products that are not vermeil or even gold at all.

When shopping online, you want to look at the vendor feedback to establish their honesty. The seller must provide some form of guarantee when making a purchase.

Pricing is another important factor to consider. Basically, if the price of a piece is as low as that of sterling silver or gold-plated pieces, then that's a red flag. You should run as fast as you can.

It also should not be as costly as solid gold pieces. Let the seller provide you all the details of the piece, including the size and thickness of the gold layer.

As I said before, modern vermeil pieces tend to look like real gold. You might need to test the metal to be sure about what you are buying.

Some jewel pieces will have a standard silver purity value on the gold surface. That denotes that the base of the piece is silver.

The Bottom Line

Vermeil jewelry can be a great and durable alternative to solid gold pieces. It is also an excellent pick if you have allergies to metals because sterling silver is usually a pure metal.

Ensure to take the time to find a trusted seller when looking to purchase a vermeil piece.

You will certainly love the look and feel of vermeil jewelry if you invest time in finding the right option.

It's one of those pieces you should never overlook when upgrading your jewelry box.

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