Gold vermeil has been around since the Victorian era. However, it has only entered mainstream fashion in recent years. Continue reading our article to learn all about gold vermeil and see whether or not it's the right jewelry type for you.
- What Is Gold Vermeil?
- How Is It Made?
- Gold Vermeil Versus Alternatives
- Caring for Gold Vermeil
- Where to Buy Gold Vermeil
What Is Gold Vermeil?
Gold vermeil (pronounced vur-may) mimics the appearance of real gold for a fraction of the cost. As opposed to being pure gold, vermeil is actually .925 sterling silver with a thin layer of gold on top. Its gold coat gives it the look of the real thing. The thickness of this coat varies from item to item. Some gold vermeil jewelry is coated with 14-karat gold. Other pieces, however, may be coated with 22-karat gold and some even feature 24-karat gold.
Many jewelers enjoy working with gold vermeil because it allows them to create stunning pieces without the cost of working with real gold. For this reason, it's often used in the manufacturing of everyday pieces of jewelry, such as rings and watches.
Gold vermeil isn't used exclusively for jewelry. It's not uncommon to encounter vermeil silverware and furniture. The White House even has a vermeil room, dedicated entirely to gold vermeil objects. Among the many items you'll find in the Vermeil Room are chandeliers, tableware, and even a vermeil wine cooler.
How Is It Made?
Gold vermeil can mimic a number of different types of gold. Yellow gold is the most common color. Regardless of its final color, the manufacturing of gold vermeil jewelry follows one of two specific formulas. Both involve electroplating.
The most popular means of creating gold vermeil jewelry is micron plating. The thickness of a gold layer is measured in microns. In order to qualify as gold vermeil, a piece of jewelry must have a gold coat of at least 2.5 microns. Micron plating allows the jeweler to create a particularly thick layer of gold around a piece of jewelry.
Some jewelers create gold vermeil jewelry using a process known as "flash plating". This involves dipping a piece of jewelry in gold solution for a short period of time. Flash plating is far more common in the manufacturing of gold-plated jewelry. While it's possible to use flash plating to create gold vermeil pieces, the coat won't be particularly thick. Gold vermeil manufactured through flash plating usually just barely reaches the required 2.5 microns.
Gold Vermeil Versus Alternatives
There are plenty of alternatives to gold vermeil. All have their pros and cons, but how do they weigh up against gold vermeil? Find out below.
The most obvious alternative to gold vermeil is the real thing. Real gold is obviously more valuable. If you're shopping for jewelry on a budget, then buying real gold might not be possible. Even 417 gold, which is 41.7% real gold, can be markedly more expensive than a gold vermeil alternative.
Despite its low price, gold vemil mimics the appearance of solid gold with remarkable accuracy. To the untrained eye, 14-karat gold vermeil is identical to a piece of genuine 14-karat gold. Price is really the only major advantage vermeil gold holds over solid gold. However, the difference in price between the two is so vast that it's usually all the justification one needs to choose gold vermeil over real gold.
We mentioned gold plating a little earlier on. As you likely remember, gold-plated jewelry is created through a process called "flash plating". Flash plating is sometimes used in the manufacturing of gold vermeil, but not nearly as often as micron plating.
Gold-plated jewelry generally has a much thinner coat than gold vermeil. This coat will wear away after a year or two. When this happens, the gold-plated jewelry flakes and it gets susceptible to scratches. This means you'll have to either pay for your jewelry to be re-plated or risk it being damaged. It's also worth noting that gold-plated jewelry often uses inferior-quality metals. Unlike gold vermeil, it could aggravate skin conditions.
Gold filled jewelry is one of the most popular alternatives to gold vermeil. It's essentially gold-plated but with a thicker top layer. In some cases it has sterling silver as the base metal, which means it wouldn't aggravate skin conditions.
Gold vermeil jewelry can often prove more cost-effective than gold-filled models. While gold-filled jewelry does not flake easily, it may wear down over time and require repairs or replacements.
Caring for Gold Vermeil
Gold vermeil is fairly durable. However you should still take proper care for your gold vermeil jewelry to ensure that it lasts a long time.
When you purchase a piece of gold vermeil jewelry, it will likely come in a case. Be sure to store the jewelry in this case when you're not wearing it. Leaving it out in the open may lead to it being damaged by dust and other environmental factors. Some people even store their gold vermeil jewelry in airtight containers to prevent oxidation. This isn't strictly necessary, but it can certainly be beneficial.
Items like perfume and deodorant can wear down gold vermeil, prematurely robbing it of its shine. To avoid this from happening, apply cosmetics (including makeup) before putting on your jewelry.
A lot of people use chemical cleaning agents when cleaning their jewelry. This is ill-advised. To clean gold vermeil, use a cotton cloth. Gently rub the jewelry piece with the cloth until blemishes have been removed and it's ready to be worn.
Where to Buy Gold Vermeil
There was a time when gold vermeil could only be purchased from major jewelers. But thanks to its increasing popularity, more and more jewelers are stocking gold vermeil items. You may struggle to find it in smaller stores, but that can be easily remedied with a trip to the nearest city.
Gold vermeil jewelry is also for sale online. But it's important to be vigilant when shopping for gold jewelry online. Before buying from somewhere over the internet, check the seller's feedback and reviews. If you can't find any reviews for the seller, then you probably shouldn't make a purchase.
High-end jewelers and fashionistas once scoffed at gold vermeil. Many considered it to be indicative of financial struggle or a lack of taste. Thankfully attitudes towards gold vermeil have changed for the better in recent years. Today, gold vermeil jewelry is viewed as an affordable but no less stylish alternative to real gold. It's stocked by all major jewelers and you'll see it worn by celebrities and the general public alike.