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What is Gold Vermeil?

As I am sure you have seen online whilst doing your regular rounds of jewellery window shopping, there is a new coated metal floating around called ‘gold vermeil’. It seems to have popped up everywhere with all of us being none-the-wiser and taken the online and high street markets by storm. But what is gold vermeil, and is it better than regular gold-plating?

what is gold vermeil, gold jewellery
(Gold plated jewellery, image courtesy of Unsplash)

We are used to seeing the usual gold-plated jewellery sprawled across the market – jewellery which consists of a thin layer of >0.5 microns of gold, coating the top of another more affordable metal such as brass. It is created by placing the affordable metal into a chemical solution with an electrical current applied, which draws the gold onto the metal. It is an efficient and effective way to create affordable gold jewellery for the greater market.

Gold vermeil (pronounced vehr-may, from French origin) on the other hand is like gold-plating but has some very distinctive differences which makes it more expensive and better quality. The technique of gold vermeil stems from practices first used in the 19th century, where gold was applied to sterling silver. It uses the same chemical solution and electrical current as gold-plating; however, it requires a greater layer of at least 10K gold that must be greater than 2.5 microns thick, with its base metal having to be that of sterling silver. With a 10K gold covering, the layer would contain at least 41.7% gold content – much greater than that of gold-plating.

Due to its thicker layer, vermeil gold is a much more durable option for jewellery pieces. With proper care and cleaning, a gold vermeil piece will stand the test of time and resist tarnishing, unlike gold-plating which can tarnish quite quickly after purchase.

what is gold vermeil, Gold Jewellery
(Gold jewellery, image courtesy of Unsplash)

So, if you’re looking for something much more durable than gold-plating and cannot quite afford your own piece of lifetime gold jewellery yet, then vermeil jewellery is certainly an option for you. Be cautious however, as these items are still only a gold covering – In general it is much more worthwhile (and more sustainably conscious!) to invest in real gold or silver jewellery as opposed to jewellery which will inevitably tarnish over time, regardless of how well you stick to the jewellery care routine. That being said, It has a beautiful metallic gold finish which we all desire without having to break the bank for it, especially if real gold jewellery is out of your budget currently. It is a gorgeous quick fix and one up on the regular gold-plating.

By Victoria Fletcher