It can be hard to tell what you’re really looking at when shopping for jewelry. Even if you’ve settled on gold, there are tons and tons of options.
If you’re not shopping for pure or solid gold, you’ve probably come across the terms gold plating, gold vermeil, and gold-filled. Whether you’re looking to save your wallet from your next jewelry purchase or you’re just wondering what the heck vermeil is, let’s learn more about what these terms mean.
Gold plating means that the jewelry is covered in a thin layer of gold. The jewelry itself is made of a non-gold base metal, usually stainless steel or brass.
The gold plating can be made of gold of varying levels of purity, meaning the gold plating itself can be mixed with other metals. This might be to reduce the cost or to achieve a different look (for example, gold might be mixed with copper to create rose gold). Typically speaking, the gold used in gold plating is at least 10k gold.
That said, the higher the karat count, the higher quality the gold. At Joydrop, most of our gold-plated jewelry is made with 14k gold or higher.
To create gold-plated jewelry, a process called electroplating is used (gold plated jewelry is sometimes called gold electroplated for this reason).
During the electroplating process, the jewelry and gold plating are combined using a chemical process. The jewelry is placed in a bath, and then an electrical current is applied, causing the gold to adhere to the metal on the jewelry.
The Gold Link Earring is gold-plated over brass. They give the same look as gold that compliments the freshwater pearls beautifully.
The Raven Adjustable Ring is another beautiful gold-plated piece. Because it’s gold-plated, the ring is fully adjustable, so you can customize the size to fit whatever finger you like.
The Stargazer Necklace is truly something to gaze at! And the gold-plated brass means you rock this statement piece without your bank account reaching rock bottom.
The terms gold coat and gold dip are sometimes used instead of gold plating, but they refer to the same thing. It means that the jewelry itself is made of another metal, like brass or stainless steel, and then coated or dipped in gold.
Gold vermeil, or just vermeil (pronounced ver-may), simply means gold-plated sterling silver. Unlike gold-plated jewelry, vermeil is made exclusively from sterling silver.
Often, vermeil jewelry has a thicker gold coating as well. Vermeil jewelry also uses higher karat gold, usually between 22 or 24 karats.
Other than that, vermeil is very similar to gold plating, and vermeil jewelry goes through the same electroplating process to combine the sterling silver with the gold.
The Plain Huggie Earring are the cutest chunky huggie earrings, perfect for everyday wear. Plus, the 14k Plus, the 14k vermeil means they are light-weight and fairly durable.
The Leaf Anklet is beautiful and delicate. The dangling leaves give the piece beautiful movement and the simple design makes it a great addition to any summer look.
Can we take a sidebar for the Sidebar Necklace? This beautiful vermeil piece is 14k gold and looks great on its own or as a layering piece.
The most notable difference between vermeil and gold-plated pieces is the base metal.
The core of gold-plated items can be made of different metals, and there is no restriction saying that a particular metal needs to be used. Some commonly used metals for gold plating include:
In contrast, gold vermeil is always made with sterling silver. Otherwise, the piece cannot be sold as vermeil.
Because vermeil can only be made with sterling silver, and not less costly metals, vermeil jewelry is often more expensive than gold-plated jewelry.
It also uses higher karat gold, which can further increase the price. Gold-plating often uses 10k gold, whereas vermeil uses a thicker layer 22k or 24k gold.
The other main difference between vermeil and gold plating is that vermeil is less likely to tarnish over time. If you’ve ever noticed your gold jewelry become discoloured, that’s tarnishing. Because vermeil uses a thicker layer of gold, vermeil usually tarnishes less, making it better for jewelry you plan on wearing regularly.
Gold-filled jewelry might not mean what you think it does. It doesn’t mean that the jewelry is literally filled with gold. Instead, it means that a layer of solid gold is bonded to the outside of the jewelry.
The base metal the jewelry is made of can be sterling silver, stainless steel, brass, or another metal.
The process of bonding the gold to the base metal is a mechanical process, rather than the chemical process used in gold plating or vermeil. Heat is used to combine the gold with whatever base metal is used.
The Isabel Necklace is dainty and delicate, but the 3 pearl pendants keep it interesting. The 16” gold-filled chain means that the necklace is a super flattering length, hitting right around the collar bone.
The Knot Today Necklace is not your average gold chain necklace. This 14k gold-filled piece is delicate while still being interesting.
The Mini Caines Pearl Hoop Earring looks great with just about any look. The three pearls are a fun twist on these classic gold-filled hoops.
The main difference is the way the gold is attached to the piece. Instead of a chemical process, heat is used to bond the gold with the base metal in gold-filled jewelry.
Another key consideration is that the gold must be at least 5% of the jewelry’s weight to be considered gold-filled. Most gold-filled jewelry is between 10 and 20 karats.
The base metal is less important for gold-filled jewelry. The base metal can be sterling silver, like in gold vermeil, or another metal, like in gold plating.
Demi-fine jewelry like gold dip, gold-plated, and vermeil allow you to have fun with your jewelry without breaking the bank. Wearing solid gold every day just isn’t practical, so save the solid gold for things like wedding bands, because demi-fine jewelry works for just about everything else!
Demi fine jewelry is the perfect way to play with your style and try new, trendy jewelry in your day-to-day life. Because your jewelry should bring you joy, not stress over the cost.
Let's stay in touch
Get 10% off when you register for our newsletter plus receive exclusive deals, the latest arrivals, and much more straight to your inbox.