Gold Vermeil

Gold Vermeil

It’s actually pretty straight forward! Gold vermeil’s meaning is very specific. Vermeil jewelry has a legal definition in the United States. It is any piece of jewelry that consists of a Sterling Silver base layer with solid gold electroplated on top. Any piece of jewelry marked as gold vermeil must meet these requirements below:

  1. Sterling silver must be the base material. Sterling silver is a metal alloy made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals (brass or copper, for example). What is Sterling Silver? This is a standard material and precious metal you may see this represented on jewelry as the stamp 925.
  2. The gold plated layer must be at least 10k (10 karat) gold. That means the gold is at least 41.7% gold content. But can be anything from 14k to 24k gold.
  3. Be plated in gold at least 2.5 microns thick. (micron = 1/1000th of a millimeter)  (0.0025 millimeters)

Source: Federal Trade Commission

Let me explain it in a simple way.

Vermeil pieces are made with precious materials with heavy plating to ensure long-lasting wear.

the piece’s base should be high-quality sterling (92.5%) silver or fine (99.9%) silver. If the article uses any other type of metal as a base, there’s a higher chance that the gold on top will varnish over time since brass or alloys react negatively with the coating.

The second criterion is the purity of the gold. For a piece to be considered vermeil, the gold used as a coating must have a purity of at least ten karats. Please remember that higher purity gold will also tarnish faster since the gold coating will be softer.

Lastly, vermeil pieces are only characterized like that if the coating layer is 2.5 microns thick.

What is gold vermeil?

Gold vermeil is a type of gold jewelry made to last. The base metal is Sterling SIlver which means your piece is made from precious metals only. A thick layer of gold is then electroplated over the base metal. While it may sound similar to gold plated jewelry, gold vermeil jewelry has a much thicker layer of gold. This means it is less likely to fade, tarnish, or wear off like cheap gold plated jewelry. What’s vermeil really though? Well, quite simply, it’s the process used to make gold vermeil jewelry.

Olympic gold medals are all made of gold vermeil.

Vermeil, also known as “silver gilt”, refers to high quality (pure or sterling) silver that is plated with a thin layer of gold. Most vermeil jewelry available now is created by electroplating the silver with gold, a chemical process that uses an electrical current to bind the two metals together.

In order to be considered as true vermeil jewelry in the US, the piece has to meet certain qualifications. For instance, the gold on the piece needs to be at least 2.5 microns thick, and at least 10k or higher.

How to pronounce vermeil?

We know the pronunciation can be a little bit confusing. However, the truth is that the word vermeil has multiple pronunciations. It’s best to show instead of tell. We prefer the French pronunciation of vehr-may but there are a few ways to pronounce it! There are a couple ways that are considered correct.

Is vermeil real Gold?

Yes! Vermeil is real gold (at least 10 karat gold) electroplated over a base layer of Sterling Silver. Real or solid gold can be 10k, 14k, 18k, or 24k gold but the karats typically used for jewelry are 10k, 14k, or 18k gold. Gold vermeil jewelry is most often made with 18k gold vermeil or 14k gold vermeil.

Is vermeil waterproof? Can vermeil get wet? Can I shower with vermeil?

In short, no. No metal is truly “waterproof” as the minerals and deposits in regular tap water can dull or damage your jewelry over time. While showering with vermeil is typically okay to do it can hasten the degradation of your jewelry. It’s best to refrain from showering with your vermeil jewelry daily because the soaps, shampoos, and conditioners you use can react with the metals. 

However, occasionally showering with your piece won’t ruin it forever. Just don’t wear your jewelry in the pool, hot tub, or ocean because it can permanently alter and damage your precious pieces.

Is vermeil hypoallergenic?

Yes, gold vermeil is hypoallergenic! One of the great features of vermeil jewelry is that it’s hypoallergenic. As it is made up of only precious metals most people will have no reaction or issues with this type of jewelry.

Is vermeil gold good quality?

Gold vermeil is the highest quality jewelry you can buy that isn’t solid gold. It is an excellent affordable option for gold jewelry. In the rankings of demi-fine jewelry gold vermeil certainly ranks as the highest quality affordable option. 

Is vermeil better than plated?

Vermeil jewelry is definitely a better option than plated. Plated jewelry has no industry standard for how thick the gold is which means you could be getting an item that’s been flash plated and will wear off quickly. With gold vermeil jewelry you know you are getting a high quality item. 

Gold-plated jewelry refers to jewelry that has gold plating at least 0.5 microns thick. It does not require sterling silver to be used as the base material, and usually uses a less valuable material at its core. Since the plating is so thin, the gold colour will wear very quickly compared to gold vermeil. Gold vermeil is superior to gold-plated jewelry.

Is vermeil the same as gold plated?

Gold vermeil undergoes a similar process to gold plated jewelry. However, they are not exactly the same. So what is gold plated? While gold vermeil has a legal definition under US law gold plated jewelry can be any type of jewelry that is plated in gold. Gold vermeil typically lasts longer and is less likely to fade or tarnish. Gold plated jewelry has no industry standard for thickness and therefore different companies can provide a wide range of quality. 

Can vermeil be resized?

Gold vermeil rings can easily be resized by a jeweler. However, after resizing the appearance may change and you may need to have the item replated with gold. Many jewelers are able to do this and it is a relatively simple process. 

What’s the difference between gold vermeil, gold plated, solid gold, and gold filled?

What’s The Difference Between Gold Vermeil and Other Gold Plated Jewelry? 

Great question. There is no shortage of gold-plated or gold-filled jewelry out there. But there are big differences – mainly in the quality and long-term value as you consider what to include in your jewelry collection. 

Poor Quality – Gold Plated:

  • A base of either steel or brass (inferior base metals),
  • The piece is VERY quickly dipped in gold
  • The thin gold finish can wear off easily
  • Exposes the wearer to base metal allergies

Medium Quality – Gold Filled:

  • A base of either brass or copper
  • Outside made of sheets of 10+ karat gold
  • Doesn’t wear off quite as easily as gold plated
  • Still potential for metal allergy with inferior base metal

Highest Quality – Gold Vermeil:

  • A base of high-quality sterling silver 
  • A thick gold layer of at least 10k
  • Most of the time 14k-24k gold is used 
  • Industry regulated gold thickness of no less than 2.5 microns (very thick).

Does gold vermeil tarnish? Just be aware that gold vermeil can tarnish over time due to the effects of oxidation on its sterling silver base. Luckily, if you clean and maintain a piece of gold vermeil jewelry regularly, those signs of age can typically be removed.

If you want your gold vermeil jewelry to last as long as possible, consider buying 14k gold vermeil to 18k gold vermeil jewelry. The higher the purity of gold, the softer it is, allowing it to be scratched and damaged more easily. Buying gold vermeil jewelry in the 14k to 18k range is the ideal way to strike a balance between purchasing something that looks beautiful and possesses genuine value without sacrificing quality.

How long vermeil lasts highly depends on how thick the gold layer is and the purity of the silver beneath. The purity of the gold layer will also affect the durability of your jewelry. For best results, you should choose a gold purity between 14k and 18k.

Anything above that will make the gold coating softer, which will, in turn, cause it to tarnish a lot faster. Anything lower than 14k will not look like the gold sheen you’re after because the coating will have a higher percentage of other metals in it.

Fortunately, tarnishing does not mean it’s damaged or ruined! Tarnishing is a natural process that happens when metal alloys in gold pieces react with oxygen. The tarnishing can easily be polished off or shined away with a polishing cloth. A professional jeweler can also deep clean your gold jewelry safely. 

Does Gold Vermeil Turn Green?

You’ve definitely seen the green mark left by jewelry before. This is especially prominent in the case of rings. Wearing them constantly can leave green or even black marks on your finger.

The silver at the core of the piece is responsible for this since it oxidizes. In reaction to your skin, it will leave those dreaded marks. However, contrary to popular belief, those marks are only a tell-tale of how your skin reacts to the jewelry. They are not usually an indicator of the piece’s quality.

If the mark itches your skin, it can be a sign that you are allergic to that type of metal. A thick gold coating can prevent adverse reactions to the metal, and there are other ways to protect your skin.

Many people line the inside of their jewelry with clear nail polish to prevent oxidation and avoid marks or any other allergic reactions.

While the silver in vermeil can oxidize and mark your skin, the result is nothing compared to the oxidation of other metals, such as brass, nickel or copper.

Gold vermeil does not turn your finger green. The green hue that cheap jewelry can leave on your finger is usually from an abundance of copper in a metal alloy. This means that many metals which are mixed with copper can create this hue. Gold vermeil jewelry does not typically create this reaction because solid gold does not cause a green hue. 

Gold Vermeil Maintenance

To ensure you get the most bang out of your buck for your vermeil jewelry, make sure you always follow these steps.

  1. Whenever you are not wearing the pieces, store them in a fabric pouch individually. This will ensure that they are not rubbing off hard surfaces and get scratched.
  2. Never wear your vermeil jewelry when swimming, exercising or showering. The water or sweat will react negatively with the metals and fade the gold coating fairly quick.
  3. Don’t wear your vermeil jewelry to bed. The constant rub of the sheets and your sweat will damage them fast.
  4. Never apply perfume with your jewelry on. Instead, put them on as soon as the fragrance has dried on your skin because the ingredients are notorious for corroding the plating.
  5. Always wear rubber gloves when cleaning, or take the jewelry off, because the harsh chemicals will affect the gold layer.
  6. Wipe down your jewelry with a piece of soft fabric after every use to clean off body oils or cosmetics.
  7. Never place the jewelry near sources of heat because it can cause discoloration or even deformation. It would be a great idea never to put any weight on top of them, either.
  8. Don’t clean them with any coarse fabrics or chemicals. You should not use a toothbrush to clean the pieces. All you need is a soft microfiber or 100% cotton cloth to wipe the pieces gently.

Gold vermeil vs solid gold

So is vermeil real gold? Simply put, yes. Vermeil is a method of creating high quality affordable gold jewelry. It refers to the process of electroplating solid gold over a base layer of Sterling Silver. Compared to solid gold it is the next best choice for high quality gold jewelry. 

Gold vermeil vs gold plated

Jewelry that qualifies as gold-plated may not meet the criteria to be referred to as gold vermeil. Gold-plated jewelry’s plating only needs to be 0.5 microns thick. Its base also doesn’t need to be sterling silver. As such, gold vermeil jewelry tends to be more valuable than simple gold-plated jewelry.

Gold vermeil will always have high-quality silver on the inside, whereas gold plated jewelry has no restrictions and frequently employs other metals such as copper or nickel. Unfortunately, these can cause severe allergies in some people, and many times will react negatively with the gold.

The plating thickness is not restricted either, so cheaper gold plated jewelry can sometimes be made to have a very thin coating that will tarnish very fast.

The durability of the piece is questionable in the case of gold-plating, as well. Unless the core metal has been strengthened, these pieces can frequently break or deform faster than vermeil.

If a vermeil piece has other metals in its composition, the seller is required to disclose this, so make sure to inquire about any other metals that might have been used when creating the piece.

Lastly, the main difference between the two is the price tag. Vermeil comes with certain assurances to the buyer that the piece is high quality, which drives the price tag up. However, gold plated jewelry can be a cheaper option if you know you’re not allergic.

Finding quality gold plated pieces will require a trained eye, so if you don’t want to document yourself on the quality of the pieces, you would be better off choosing vermeil every time, despite the higher price.

As mentioned before, vermeil differs from plated jewelry in its thickness. What does gold plated mean? The industry standard for a gold layer on vermeil is much thicker than the standard thickness of a gold plated piece. Plated pieces are often plated over a cheap base metal as well. 

Gold plated jewelry is a brass, copper, or low-end metal electroplated with a layer of gold. Usually less expensive than vermeil, gold plated jewelry doesn’t require any minimum karat weight or thickness. That being said, a gold plated piece can potentially be more valuable than a vermeil piece if it has a high gold karat weight (20 or 22k) and a thick layer of gold. It’s also important to note that gold color varies based on karat weight. A 14k piece will have a lighter yellow, while an 18k piece will have a stronger, darker yellow color.

As vermeil jewelry is composed of two precious metals (gold and silver), it’s usually thought of as being closer to fine jewelry and tends to fall under the category “demi-fine.” The higher the karat weight and thickness of the gold layer, the more expensive and valuable the piece will usually be. However, if a vermeil ring or necklace only has the minimum layer of gold, it’s likely to start wearing away soon after purchase. At the very least, a thinly plated vermeil place will need a replating every so often.

Essentially, gold plated jewelry is the same thing as vermeil jewelry, only the base metal is of a lower quality than silver, such as copper or brass. In contrast to vermeil, there are no specific requirements for gold plated jewelry. The gold can be of any quality, and the electroplated layer can be any thickness.

When comparing gold vermeil to gold plated, there are many differences that make the two gold types stand apart.

  • Base metal – whilst gold plating can take place on any metal, from copper to brass, gold vermeil has to be on sterling silver. For a sustainable option, recycled silver makes an excellent base.
  • Gold thickness – the second key difference is in the thickness of the metal layer, whilst gold plated has a minimum thickness of 0.5 microns, vermeil has to be a thickness of at least 2.5 microns. When it comes to gold vermeil vs gold plated, gold vermeil is at a minimum 5 times thicker than gold plating.
  • Durability – due to its added thickness gold vermeil is far more durable than gold plating. Combining both affordability and quality.

Both gold vermeil and gold plated jewellery have their own unique advantages. For those wanting a higher quality, but still affordable piece that will endure frequent wear for years to come, gold vermeil is the ideal choice. Whether you’re looking for earrings or anklets, gold vermeil is a wonderful option. Whereas, those who switch up their style more often, may wish to experiment with gold plated jewellery due to its slightly lower price point.

Contrasting gold vermeil vs gold plated displays how gold vermeil is a higher quality material to use in jewellery.

In general, unless specified otherwise, gold plated jewelry is usually going to have lower quality gold and a thinner gold layer. Because of this, as a consumer, it’s important to pay close attention to the jewelry’s quality if it’s listed as gold plated. While it does have a layer of gold, this doesn’t necessarily mean the jewelry is high-quality and durable!

Gold vermeil vs Sterling Silver

All gold vermeil pieces require a base layer of Sterling Silver. This means underneath there is always the precious metal Sterling Silver. Sterling Silver pieces can easily be shined or polished back to their original luster. 

Gold vermeil vs gold filled jewelry

Gold filled pieces typically also have a thick layer of gold plated on top. What does gold filled mean? Gold filled pieces often have a cheaper or low-end base metal. Both gold filled and gold vermeil pieces are difficult to tell apart from solid gold. However, the name of gold filled can be confusing. The piece is not in fact “filled with gold” but instead has a base metal of cheaper alloys with solid gold plated on top. If its gold filled vs vermeil we definitely vote for vermeil.

Despite both being base metals covered in gold, gold filled vs gold vermeil hold a number of differences.

  • Base metal – gold filled jewelry can be made on a number of cheap metals such as brass or copper, whilst gold vermeil can only be made from sterling silver. We adore using recycled silver for a sustainable option in our jewelry.
  • Gold thickness – the thickness of the gold layer varies between gold filled and gold vermeil, and both are measured on different scales. Whilst gold filled requires the percentage weight in gold to be 5%, gold vermeil requires thickness of 2.5 microns.
  • Production method – whilst gold is bonded to the base metal using heat in gold filled pieces, electrolysis is used in gold vermeil. The electrolysis allows for crafting more intricate pieces. This is because the sheets of gold in filled jewelry can only be attached to flat surfaces. On the other hand, as vermeil is created in a solution, it makes a better choice for the creation of rings and other shaped pieces.

Each gold vermeil and gold filled jewelry have their own advantages. If you’re in search of high quality pieces without an extortionate price tag, gold vermeil jewelry is the perfect choice. With more flexibility in the production process, you can adorn intricate earrings, and delicate anklets. Or gold filled is a brilliant metal for flatter pieces such as cuff bracelets, and minimalistic pendants.

Unlike vermeil and gold plated jewelry, gold filled jewelry has a much thicker layer of gold over the base metal, sometimes as much as 100% thicker. This makes a big difference in terms of the jewelry’s ability to resist wear and tear long term. Although the base metal is usually brass or another low-end material, it would be hard to tell the difference between “real” gold and a gold filled piece.

While gold plated jewelry is usually not an ideal choice, gold filled jewelry can be a high-quality addition to your collection. Gold filled jewelry isn’t created through electroplating, but rather through bonding with heat. Since two or three thick layers of gold cover the base metal inside, the jewelry is protected from tarnishing and discoloration. Authentic gold filled jewelry should have a minimum of 5% gold weight, so make sure the outer gold layer is at least this thick.

Since vermeil pieces are usually created from electroplating and the minimum required gold is much lower, you’ll want to keep this in mind when trying to decide between vermeil and gold filled. Make sure to compare the gold’s karat weight, the thickness of the layer and the quality of the base metal. By looking at the individual qualities of the piece, you’ll be able to determine if it matches your standards. While certain vermeil pieces can tarnish easily, others with thick plating may last as long as a gold filled piece.

Gold plated vs gold filled 

Gold plated refers to jewellery that consists of a thin layer of gold that is applied over the top of another affordable metal, such as copper. The process of gold plating is done through putting the economical metal in a chemical solution that contains gold and then applying an electric current to the piece. The electric current attracts the gold to the base metal, where it reacts leaving a thin gold covering.

Many jewellers will use gold plating as a way to create affordable gold jewelry. As the base metal is less expensive than solid gold, it allows for cheaper production whilst achieving that bold metal look that so many adore.

Gold plated pieces have a thin layer of gold on the outside with a base layer of a metal alloy. The metal base layer of gold vermeil pieces is always Sterling silver while gold plated pieces can have any type of base metal. The same goes for gold filled. Gold plated pieces may have a higher quality base metal than gold filled pieces which often have a low quality base metal. Many companies use gold plating or gold filled jewelry to hide a cheaper or low-end material underneath. Vermeil pieces hold their value because the base metal is Sterling Silver.

Is Gold Plated Real Gold?

Gold plated jewellery is made of both real gold twinned with a different base metal. Whilst these pieces are not solid gold, the plating itself consists of real gold. However, for a piece to be labelled ‘gold plated’ the layer of gold must be equal to or greater than 0.5 micron

Gold Plating and Allergies


If you happen to have allergies to lower base metals like brass, copper or nickel, it’s best to either choose vermeil jewelry or gold filled jewelry. The gold layer on plated jewelry is usually too thin to cover the lower metal, and if any gold begins to wear down, you might get an allergic reaction.

Gold Vermeil Rings

If you’re looking for the highest-quality, demi-fine jewelry, a vermeil collection with thick plating in 18k gold would be a good choice. If you don’t mind a lower base metal, gold filled pieces are probably your best bet when it comes to long-lasting and durable jewelry. Although gifts for loved ones, bridal jewelry and commemorative pieces are all best suited as vermeil, gold filled or fine jewelry, your casual fashion wear can work great with just a thin layer of gold plating.  

While pure 14k or 18k gold or platinum pieces are always the best choice for high-quality, permanent pieces of your collection, vermeil and gold filled can always be a good alternative for the budget-conscious fashionista.

Gold Vermeil Vs 14 K Gold

If you see “14k”, “18k” or another karatage before the word “vermeil”, this simply refers to how much gold content there is: 24k is 99.9% gold content, 18k is 75% gold content, 14k is 58.3% and 10k is 41.7%.

Higher karatage is not necessarily better; pure gold is very flexible and yellow in colour, so mixing it with other materials strengthens the gold, making it more appropriate for use in jewelry pieces. Mixing it with other materials also changes the hue of the gold so the yellow tone is not so aggressive. 

Gold Vermeil Requirements In Canada

  in Canada, the requirement for vermeil is only 1.0 micron thick. This is very thin plating, and you can expect that your jewelry won’t last more than a couple of years with regular use.

However, jewelry brands based in Canada might call their products “vermeil” when they’re marketing in the US, even though it’s technically not vermeil according to US regulations. It’s an illegal practice, but it happens. Unfortunately, the people who lose out are the customers who expect a certain quality level but are in reality getting much worse.

Pros And Cons Of Gold Vermeil

This type of jewelry is often more expensive than gold filled or gold plated jewelry, but obviously less expensive than solid gold jewelry, and:

  • there is no risk of an allergic reaction to an unknown core metal (because all core metals in vermeil are sterling or pure silver),
  • there is usually a higher grade of gold used,
  • is more durable since it’s required to have a minimum of 2.5 microns, where a lot of gold plating is simply a thin layer that often wears off, and 
  • it is malleable for artists to create unique designs. 

In order to tell that you are purchasing the real thing and not gold plated pieces is to look at the coloration and the weight. 

This kind of gold jewelry is usually sold with 14 karats (minimum), 18 karats, or 24 karat yellow gold, or in a rose gold.

Less expensive gold plated pieces are usually 10 karats. 

While gold plated jewelry has a known marking system (GP, HGP, RGP, HGE, or GEP), vermeil does not. 

What you can look for is a stamp with a standard silver purity value. This will tell you that the core metal is silver. If you see 925 it would denote 92.5% silver…letting you know that the core metal is a 92.5% silver alloy. 

Gold Vermeil Microns

Thickness is also important. The thicker the plating, the longer it will last.

You will want to look for the quality of the core alloy. Vermeil makes this easy for you.  As genuine vermeil will always have a core alloy of sterling silver.  

Micron plating is what it is all about.  

This is the thickness of the gold. Micron plating at minimum is 1 micron, where it becomes measurable. But for this type of jewelry, the required minimum is 2.5.  

Is Gold Vermeil Pawnable?

Yes, gold vermeil is pawnable.  Both silver and gold are precious metals. If you java gold vermeil articles, such as for example, pure 925 silver dipped in 24k gold jewelry, you can have this pawned at pawnshops who accept silver articles. 

Likewise, if you purchase 14k or 18k pure gold, you can have this pawned at pawnshops who accept gold.


Q: Is Gold Vermeil Good Quality?

A: Gold vermeil is made using premium-quality metals (sterling silver and gold) which makes it very high quality in comparison to gold plated or gold filled because it doesn’t contain any cheap base metals such as brass.

Q: How Long Will Gold Vermeil Last?

A: Using the highest quality noble metals and manufacturing processes, gold vermeil is far more durable than gold-filled jewelry, flash gold-plated jewelry, or regular gold plate. Gold vermeil can last for years if cared for properly and can even rival the longevity of solid gold pieces.

Q: Is Gold Vermeil Better than Gold Plated?

A: Gold vermeil is similar to gold-plated jewelry with the main difference being the thickness of the layer of gold. The other primary difference is that the metal underneath the layer of gold vermeil jewelry is solid sterling silver instead of the cheap brass or other base metal used for gold plated or even gold filled jewelry.

Q: Can Gold Vermeil Get Wet?

A: Yes, gold vermeil can get wet and is even fine for showering, however, we recommend that it not be exposed to harsh chemicals or certain types of chlorine that can discolor even solid gold jewelry (especially 14k gold).

Q: How do You Clean Gold Vermeil?

A: When your vermeil piece becomes dirty with oils from your skin or dirt and dust, you should wash it carefully with warm water and a soft liquid soap ( we recommend Dawn dish soap.) Lay the piece in the soapy water and use your fingers or a very light brush to remove dirt and debris. Rinse thoroughly with normal water and gently pat dry.

Q: Is Gold Vermeil the Same as Solid 14K Gold or 18K Gold?

A: No, vermeil consists of a thick gold layer over solid sterling silver.

Q: Are Gold Vermeil and Gold Filled the Same Thing?

A: No, they are similar except that gold vermeil has a solid sterling silver base whereas gold filled is a gold plate over a much less expensive base metal like brass.

Q: Can You Wear Gold Vermeil Every Day?

A: Simple answer: Yes. Although cheap plated jewelry and even flash plated gold jewelry can quickly lose its luster, gold vermeil is suitable for everyday wear due to the thick layer of gold and silver base.

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Author D Laidler

I am David, economist, originally from Britain, and studied in Germany and Canada. I am now living in the United States. I have a house in Ontario, but I actually never go.  I wrote some books about sovereign debt, and mortgage loans. I am currently retired and dedicate most of my time to fishing. There were many topics in personal finances that have currently changed and other that I have never published before. So now in Business Finance, I found the opportunity to do so. Please let me know in the comments section which are your thoughts. Thank you and have a happy reading.

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