What is Gold Vermeil? What makes it do special?
What is Gold Vermeil?
Gold vermeil, pronounced "ver-may," represents the epitome of quality in gold-plated jewelry. It may not be the top tier (reserved for solid gold), but it stands leagues above your average gold-plated jewelry, and it's precisely where we want to be.
Here are some key insights into vermeil jewelry, whether you encounter the term "gold vermeil" or simply "vermeil"—they refer to the same thing. Vermeil is a generous layer of gold bonded onto a precious sterling silver base. Notably, it's the only type of plating subject to regulation and measurement, allowing it to legally bear the designation "vermeil."
These regulations demand that the gold layer must be a minimum of 2.5 microns thick, possess a karat weight of 10 or above, and can only be bonded to a base of .925 sterling silver, as opposed to cheaper metals like brass. Thanks to these stringent standards, you can purchase vermeil jewelry with confidence, knowing that you're investing in a piece of jewelry that boasts substantial gold thickness and exceptional long-lasting anti-tarnish quality.
It's important to note as well, often Gold Vermeil can be much more delicate on sensitive skin. Since it uses precious metals, people with sensitive skin often find they don't have any reactions to Gold Vermeil jewelry over brass or other bass metal plated jewelry.
The Difference Between Gold Vermeil and Gold Plating:
Gold plating, when described merely as "plated" or "gold plated," often lacks standardized regulations or specific quality requirements, making it challenging to gauge its true quality. Here are some essential points to consider about gold plating:
The most prevalent method of gold plating used in the jewelry industry is known as "flash" plating, typically applied to a base metal like brass. This type of plating frequently features an exceedingly thin layer of gold, often less than 1 micron thick. As the gold layer wears away, exposing the brass base, the jewelry loses its desired golden hue and may even develop a grey film due to oxidation reactions.
Brass, a common choice for the base metal in gold plating, can trigger allergic reactions and leave unsightly green markings on the skin for certain individuals.
The Difference Between Gold Vermeil and Gold Filled:
There are many terms and types out there when it comes to gold jewelry, but we're here to simplify things! Let's dive into the realm of Gold Filled (also known as gold fill) jewelry, so you can better understand what it's all about.
Gold Filled is created through a mechanical process that involves pressure bonding multiple layers of gold onto a brass base. In the world of Gold Filled, the gold must make up at least 5% of the total composition. This may not sound like much, but it actually results in a considerably thicker layer than the super-thin gold plating seen in some styles, making Gold Filled jewelry quite durable.
However, there are some trade-offs to consider. While Gold Filled jewelry is more robust, the base material is still brass, which, despite being better shielded, can potentially cause skin irritations or develop oxidation films and reactions if exposed to certain conditions.
How durable is Gold Vermeil?
The longevity and radiance of your gold vermeil jewelry are deeply intertwined with the care it receives. The wear and tear your jewelry endures is a unique journey for each individual, making it challenging to predict an exact lifespan.
It is advisable to follow best practices to ensure the longest lifespan possible for your beautiful treasures such as removing your jewelry while swimming or exercising.
To preserve the splendor of your jewelry, irrespective of its composition, it's important to clean off any residues after use and preferably store it within an airtight environment. Feel free to explore our comprehensive best practices guide for additional care insights.
One of the noteworthy qualities of gold vermeil jewelry is its sterling silver foundation. Even in scenarios where your jewelry may encounter an array of chemicals and rarely leaves your side, the gold layer might eventually yield to reveal the underlying silver.
However, there's no need for alarm, as silver is an exquisite precious metal in its own right. Your jewelry piece could evolve into a lighter variation of white gold, distinct from the dark bronze tint often associated with some plated jewelry.
In essence, when purchasing Gold Vermeil jewelry, you'll continue to enjoy distinctive and enduring pieces that can handle daily wear without the substantial price tag often associated with fine solid gold jewelry.
Does Gold Vermeil Tarnish?
In a nutshell, yes, tarnish can affect gold jewelry, including what we often think of as solid or pure gold. It's important to note that all gold used in jewelry is actually a metal alloy, a mixture of small percentages of other metals that enhance its hardness. Pure gold is relatively soft and doesn't hold up well in its pure form. Thus, any gold below 24 karats (k) can potentially tarnish, although it doesn't occur easily.
The good news is that removing tarnish from gold is a breeze. Simply gently rub your jewelry piece with a soft sunglass cloth without any chemicals. Read our cleaning guide here for more tips.
Now, let's distinguish between the slight tarnish that may appear on gold vermeil and the tarnish that can develop on plated jewelry in terms of their appearance and removal. Tarnish on gold vermeil typically manifests as a slight darkening or spotting, which can be effortlessly wiped away.
Tarnish that forms on the base metal of plated jewelry, typically brass, appears as a grey, film-like substance. Unfortunately, the only way to remove this tarnish is by buffing it off, which, in the case of plated jewelry, would also remove the surface gold, leading to the loss of the gold plating.
How can I identify Gold Vermeil?
The easiest way to identify the quality of your jewelry is to look for the engraving on it indicating the base metal.
For vermeil jewelry, there will be a "925" engraved on it (typically found with the logo on a back or interior side of the jewelry piece.) 925 indicates the purity of the base metal which is sterling silver. So even though there's that thick layer of gold as well, the law requires that the highest percentage of metal used is indicated, which for vermeil is the sterling silver base metal.
If you find 9k, 10k, 14k, 18k, or 24k, that means you have a solid gold piece.
If you find NO engraving, that likely means that base metal is brass or an alloy of mixed base metals. When in doubt (because honestly, these engravings can be tiny and hard to find) just reach out to the brand and ask. Any reputable jeweller should be more than happy to share with you the materials that they use.
At Munay, we use almost exclusively Gold Vermeil with solid Sterling Silver and 22k Gold at 3 microns thickness in our pieces, and in some cases we will opt for Brass with Gold Plating due to the nature of certain designs and our local artisan's access to equipment. If you're unsure, check the material listing on our products or visit our Brass and Vermeil collections.
We believe in investing in meaningful jewelry that will not only last quality-wise but also style-wise. So you can enjoy wearing them for years to come.
We hope this helps break things down for you!
Ready to shop? Head over to our New Arrivals to see our latest Gold Vermeil pieces.