Gold Vermeil Vs. Gold Plated Vs. Gold Filled – What Should You Choose?

Gold plated vs vermeil and filled jewels

It’s commonly assumed that “Gold Vermeil”, “Gold Plated”, and “Gold Filled” belong to the same category of jewelry and may be used interchangeably. In reality, however, they are all different. Of course, the fact that each of these jewelry items contains a gold layer surface tends to confuse people. 

Now, the presence of the substance gold definitely makes each of these much more valuable and durable than your costume jewelry. It is important that you understand the qualities of each of these before selecting one for yourself!

Let’s take a look at what Gold Vermeil, Gold Plated, and Gold Filled Jewelry are!

What is Gold Vermeil Jewelry?

Gold vermeil is also known as ‘silver gilt’ and refers to a high-quality silver jewelry piece that is plated with a thin layer of gold. A lot of old vermeil jewelry these days is created by electroplating silver with gold. Electroplating is a chemical procedure that binds two sides of metal with the help of an electric current!

In certain countries such as the US, the piece has to meet certain qualifications to be called gold vermeil jewelry. For instance, the gold used for layering the silver piece has to be at least 2.5 microns thick and 10k or higher!

Gold vermeil necklace and pendants

What does ‘14k Vermeil’ mean?

The‘14k’, ‘18k’, or other such karatage numbers that you find in front of the word vermeil simply refers to the amount of gold used in making the jewelry. For instance, 10k refers to 41.7% gold, 14k refers to 58.3% gold, 18k refers to 75% gold, and 24k refers to 99.9% gold!

However, higher karatage may not necessarily mean that the gold is of better quality. Pure gold is usually very flexible and yellow in color. Sometimes, other substances are used to strengthen the gold. This mixing with other substances makes gold much more appropriate to use in jewelry.

Does Gold Vermeil Jewelry tarnish?

Usually, 24k gold vermeil does not tarnish. On the other hand, other karatage such as 18k or lower may slightly dull down over time while coming in contact with chemicals found in detergents, soaps, lotions, or moisturizers. 

However, you can restore your gold vermeil jewelry to its original luster by taking extra care of it. You can use a gold polishing cloth, the one that comes impregnated with gold, to clean your gold vermeil jewelry.

Should you invest in Gold Vermeil Jewelry?

Gold vermeil jewelry allows jewelers to design some stunning designs without using solid design. If you invest in gold vermeil jewelry, you will get to wear gold jewelry but at a much lower cost than pure gold. Additionally, gold vermeil jewelry is much more hypoallergenic.

How can one take care of Gold Vermeil Jewelry?

If you take good care of your gold vermeil jewelry, it may last longer. You can store your vermeil jewelry in a cool, dark place that is away from direct sunlight. In addition, you can remove your jewelry while taking a shower, using lotions and other cosmetics, or applying perfume. The chemicals in these products tend to tarnish vermeil jewelry much quickly. 

What is Gold Plated Jewelry?

Gold Plated Jewelry is created by electroplating copper, brass, or a similar low-end metal with gold. This jewelry is usually less expensive than gold vermeil jewelry. Additionally, gold-plated jewelry does not even require any minimum thickness or karat weight. 

However, gold-plated jewelry can be much more valuable than gold vermeil jewelry if it has a thick layer of gold or a higher gold karat weight.

Gold-plated bangles and bracelets

How long does Gold Plated Jewelry?

Generally, gold-plated jewelry lasts for a couple of years. After that, the gold plating begins to tarnish. However, this time period can vary if you do not take proper care of your gold-plated jewelry. For instance, if you regularly wear your gold-plated jewelry while taking a shower, using cosmetics, perfumes, and other products that contain chemicals, it may begin to tarnish within a year.

Is 18k Gold Plated Jewelry considered real gold?

18 karat gold plated jewelry such as rings, earrings, necklaces, or bracelets contains 75% of pure gold. This suggests that gold-plated jewelry has real gold too, even if it is just a thin layer of gold.

Can 18k Gold Plated Jewelry stain the skin green?

18k gold plated jewelry that is fresh out of the box will not turn your skin green. This is because gold is hypoallergenic( that is, it will not react with your skin, even if you have sensitive skin).

Does Gold Plated Brass tarnish?

Yes, over time, gold plated brass will start to wear down. To restore your gold-plated jewelry to its original appearance, you will have to re-plate the gold regularly.

You can increase the longevity of your gold-plated jewelry by taking good care of it and choosing better quality pieces in the first place.

Should you invest in Gold Plated Jewelry?

Considering the price difference between solid gold jewelry and gold-plated jewelry, investing in gold-plated jewelry may be a good option. However, with gold-plated jewelry, you may have to take good care of your pieces to ensure their longevity. 

What is Gold Filled Jewelry?

Gold-filled jewelry has a much thicker layer of gold over its base metal. Sometimes, this layer can even be 100% thicker. The thick layer of gold makes a huge difference in terms of the gold-filled jewelry’s ability to resist wear and tear over a longer time.

In most cases, the base metal in gold-filled jewelry is usually brass or some other low-end material. But it is difficult to find the difference between solid gold jewelry and gold-filled jewelry.

Gold-filled bracelets, bangles and rings

How long does Gold Filled Jewelry last?

Gold-filled jewelry items, even with daily use, can last up to 10 to 30 years. However, the layer of gold may eventually wear off and expose the low-end material within. Most high-quality gold-filled jewelry pieces have a similar appearance to that high karat gold. 

Is Gold Filled Jewelry worth it?

While gold-filled jewelry is not real gold, it does contain more gold than the microscopic layer of gold placed on certain materials. However, gold-filled jewelry may not be worth much unless it has a large amount of gold used.

Does 18k Gold Filled Jewelry tarnish?

Yes, 18k gold-filled jewelry can tarnish over time. However, it happens only in rare circumstances. This is because, in gold-filled jewelry, the layer of gold bonded with a low-end material is usually quite thick. However, when exposed to extreme sulfide, gold-filled jewelry can blacken.

Is Gold Filled Jewelry hypoallergenic?

Yes, gold as a substance itself is hypoallergenic. Since gold-filled jewelry contains a thick layer of gold, it is hypoallergenic.

How can one take care of Gold Filled Jewelry?

To take care and preserve the longevity of your gold-filled jewelry, store your pieces in a plastic bag. Remove the excess air from the bag before sealing it. This way, the lack of oxygen in the plastic bag will help preserve your gold-filled jewelry for a long time. However, make sure that you do not keep more than one jewelry piece in one bag.

Differences Between Gold Vermeil and Gold Plated Jewelry

Gold vermeil jewelry consists of two precious metals, gold, and silver. This is why it is regarded as being closer to fine jewelry than gold-plated alternatives. In fact, they fall under the category of “demi-fine jewelry”.

The thicker the gold layer and higher the karat value, the more expensive your gold vermeil jewelry piece will be. However, if the gold vermeil jewelry has a lesser composition of gold, it will start to wear out soon. Because of this, thinly plated vermeil jewelry will need replating often.

While gold plated jewelry is quite similar to that of gold vermeil jewelry, the major difference is in the second metal used. In gold vermeil, the metal is silver. Whereas in gold plated, the metal is of lower quality such as copper or brass. Unlike gold vermeil jewelry, gold-plated jewelry does not require a specific amount of gold in it. The gold used can be of any quality and the electroplating can be of any thickness in gold-plated jewelry pieces.

Generally, unless specified otherwise, gold-plated jewelry will have thinner and lower-quality gold in it. This is why it is essential that while purchasing gold-plated jewelry, you pay special attention to the quality and quantity of gold used. Because, even though gold plated jewelry has gold in it, it is not always high-quality or durable.

Differences Between Gold Vermeil and Gold Filled Jewelry

The main difference between gold vermeil and gold-filled jewelry is in the way it is made. Gold vermeils are made with electroplating gold with silver, while gold-filled jewelry is created by bonding the metals with heat.

The base metal here is covered with two to three thick layers of gold, which decreases the chances of gold-filled jewelry getting tarnished or discolored quickly. Usually, authentic gold-filled jewelry comes with at least 5% of the gold weight. 

On the other hand, gold vermeil pieces are created by electroplating. Additionally, the required amount of gold is lesser too. This is why it is essential that you check the quality of the metal, its thickness, and gold karat’s weight before investing in gold vermeil jewelry. While some gold vermeil jewelry can easily tarnish, some can last for as long as a gold-plated jewelry piece.

Differences Between Gold Filled and Gold Plated Jewelry

Gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry is different in the way they are made. While gold-filled jewels make use of bonding between gold and other metals, gold-plated jewels are made by electroplating gold with lower metals like brass or copper.

In addition to that, the base metal used in gold-filled jewelry is filled with thick layers of gold. The thicker the layer of gold, the better the durability and quality of the jewelry.

On the other hand, gold plated jewelry usually has gold coated over the low-end material. In most cases, the material used is brass, copper, or nickel. Since the coating is quite thin, one scratch on the jewelry can easily reveal the material inside. However, a thicker coating of gold on the material can help your jewelry stand up to the tear and wear of the gold.

Sometimes, your gold-plated jewelry may start to wear off and expose the inner material. When that happens, the material might react with the oxygen outside and cause it to stain your skin green. Similarly, other high-end gold jewelry pieces that contain metal alloys like copper, silver, or nickel may cause your skin to stain green. 

Allergies and Gold Plated Jewelry

Gold plated jewelry uses low-end materials such as copper, brass, and nickel. If you happen to be allergic to these materials, it is best that you opt for gold vermeil or gold-filled jewelry.

Usually, the gold plating on these materials is quite thin to cover the material inside. In cases where the gold plating starts to tarnish and wear off, the inner material will be exposed. You may develop skin allergies. 

You can buy gold-plated jewelry with a thicker plating on the inner material. Remember that even the thick gold plating may tarnish over time. However, if you take good care of your gold-plated jewelry, it can preserve its longevity and reduce your risk of developing skin allergies.

Which one should you choose – Gold Vermeil, Gold Plated, or Gold Filled Jewelry?

The selection of gold jewelry among these three categories depends on your preference and budget.

If you are looking for a high-quality, demi-fine jewelry piece, gold vermeil jewelry with 18k gold or above will be a good choice.

If you do not mind a low-end material in your jewelry piece, you can opt for gold-filled jewelry. These are long-lasting and durable.

If you are not allergic to any low-end metal, you can go for gold-plated jewelry. However, make sure that you get a thicker plating done on your jewelry piece. Or, if you get a thinner gold plating done, you may have to re-plate your jewelry often to maintain its luster and shine. 

Otherwise, if you do not mind purchasing new jewelry and trying out different styles and designs, gold-plated jewelry can be the perfect option!

Anand Srinivasan
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