What is Gold Vermeil?

What is Gold Vermeil?  If you’re a jewelry lover, you might have come across the term “gold vermeil” while browsing for new pieces to add to your collection.  But what exactly does gold vermeil mean?

In this blog post, we will explore the world of gold vermeil.   The post will answer many questions including what gold vermeil is.   We will also discuss gold plated vs vermeil, is gold vermeil real gold         and how long does gold vermeil last?    Some readers may want to know what is 14k gold vermeil and how to care for gold vermeil – so we’ll cover that too.

Are you ready?   Let’s get started.

What is Gold Vermeil?

Gold vermeil is a type of jewelry that combines the luxury of gold with the affordability of sterling silver.  Gold vermeil, pronounced “ver-may,” is a type of jewelry that consists of a base metal, typically sterling silver, coated with a thick layer of gold.   The term “vermeil” actually refers to the process of plating silver with a thick layer of gold. To be considered gold vermeil, a piece of jewelry must meet specific criteria:

  1. Base Metal: The base metal used in gold vermeil is sterling silver, which is an alloy made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals (usually copper). Sterling silver is known for its durability, making it an excellent choice for jewelry.
  2. Gold Plating: The gold layer in gold vermeil must be at least 2.5 microns thick. A micron is 1/1000th of a millimeter.  This thickness ensures that the gold plating is durable and long-lasting. The gold used in vermeil is typically 14k or 18k gold, giving the jewelry a luxurious and rich appearance.
  3. Finishing: Gold vermeil jewelry is usually finished with a protective coating to prevent tarnishing and enhance its durability. This layer of protection ensures that the gold vermeil piece retains its shine and luster for years to come.

What is gold vermeil?   Technically to be considered vermeil, the gold layer must be at least 2.5 microns thick and consist of at least 10 karat gold.   10k gold means the gold is at least 41.7% gold content.

What is gold vermeil
PHOTO: A 14 carat gold over 925 sterling silver ring from Luxuria Diamonds. In order for such a ring to be labelled gold vermeil, the gold plating must be greater than 2.5 microns in thickness.

The Process of Creating Gold Vermeil

The process of creating gold vermeil involves several steps.  First, the base metal which is silver is polished and cleaned to remove any impurities. Then, a layer of gold is applied through a process called electroplating. This involves using an electric current to deposit the gold onto the base metal.

After the gold layer is applied, the piece is polished again to give it a smooth and shiny finish. The thickness of the gold layer must be at least 2.5 microns to be considered vermeil. This ensures that the gold layer is durable and long-lasting.

Advantages of Gold Vermeil

Gold vermeil offers several advantages that make it an attractive option for jewelry enthusiasts:

  1. Affordability: Compared to solid gold jewelry, gold vermeil offers a more budget-friendly alternative without compromising on style or quality.
  2. Durability: The thick layer of gold plating and the sterling silver base make gold vermeil jewelry highly durable. With proper care, it can withstand everyday wear and last for a long time.
  3. Luxurious Appearance: Gold vermeil jewelry gives you the luxurious look of solid gold.  Gold vermeil is the best quality jewelry you can get short of buying solid gold.
What are the advantages of gold vermeil
PHOTO: What are the advantages of gold vermeil?     Gold vermeil jewelry has the luxurious look of solid gold without the price tag.    Seen above is the Circlus pendant from Luxuria.   It has ten natural rubies of approx. 0.5 ct. t.w. in an open circle arrangement.    The gemstones are set in 925 silver which is plated with 14 karat yellow gold.    

Gold Plated vs Vermeil: Which is the Right Choice for You?

When it comes to jewelry, the options seem endless. From sterling silver to gold, there are so many materials to choose from. But what about gold plated vs. vermeil?  These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to different processes.   Below we dive into the differences between gold plated and vermeil.  

What is Gold Plated?

Gold plated jewelry is made by applying a thin layer of gold onto a base metal, usually brass or copper. The gold layer is bonded to the base metal using an electroplating process. This creates a beautiful gold finish that mimics the look of solid gold jewelry, but at a fraction of the cost.

One of the main advantages of gold plated jewelry is its affordability. It allows you to enjoy the luxurious look of gold without breaking the bank. However, it’s important to note that the gold layer on gold plated jewelry can wear off over time.   Once the plating wears of the base metal underneath will be revealed.   Often the base metal color is different and obviously so.  But in any event,  the lifespan of gold plated jewelry is generally much shorter compared to other types of jewelry.

What is gold plated
PHOTO: What is gold plated?    Gold plating tends to be used on cheaper jewelry.    The base metal is often non-precious such as brass or steel.    Seen above is a set of earrings from the Noblesse brand.   These earrings have cz stones which are set in brass with rose gold plating.     

How is Vermeil different to Gold Plating?

Vermeil, on the other hand, is a higher quality gold-plating process.  It involves a thicker layer of gold being applied to a base metal, which is usually sterling silver. To be considered vermeil, the gold layer must be at least 2.5 microns thick and consist of at least 10 karat gold.

The thickness of the gold layer in vermeil jewelry makes it more durable and long-lasting compared to gold plated jewelry. It also gives the jewelry a richer and more vibrant gold color.

When comparing gold plated vs vermeil the main difference is the thickness of the gold plating and the base metal used.   Gold plated jewelry has plating at least 0.5 microns thick.   That’s 5 times less than gold vermeil.   Furthermore, gold plating does not require a 925 sterling silver base.   Instead, Gold plating (GP) usually uses inexpensive base materials.  Examples of base metals include copper, brass and steel.   If copper is gold plated, a layer of nickel is often applied to the substrate as a mechanical backing to improve the overall wear. Finally, when comparing gold plated vs vermeil we note that gold vermeil is better for sensitive skin.    While neither are hypoallergenic, gold plating is more likely to have higher nickel content.   Nickel is a common cause of allergic contact dermatitis.

gold plated vs vermeil
FIGURE 1: Gold Plated vs Vermeil, how is gold vermeil different to gold plating? Gold vermeil is made in a similar style to gold plating but requires a thicker layer of gold. The gold layer must be above 2.5 microns, creating a finish that is five times thicker than average gold plating, and far more durable. Furthermore, gold vermeil uses precious silver as a base metal whereas gold plating is usually over a non-precious and cheap base metal.

Is Gold Vermeil Real Gold?

No blog discussing the question about what is gold vermeil would be complete without asking whether gold vermeil is real gold?   Some are concerned that gold vermeil is fake gold.  

So, is gold vermeil real gold?    The short answer is yes, gold vermeil is indeed real gold. The gold coating in gold vermeil jewelry is made up of real gold.   Vermeil uses real gold.  The gold must be of at least 10 karats in purity and be electroplated over a base layer of Sterling Silver.   The gold used can 10k, 14k, 18k, or 24k in purity.   Many jewellery makers prefer 14k gold for the outer plating rather than 100% pure gold (aka 24k gold) because pure gold is very malleable and has very strong yellow and orange tones, which give it a brassy look.   To achieve an authentic gold appearance real gold must be used.  However, it is essential to note that gold vermeil is not solid gold. While the gold coating is real, it’s only a layer, and the base metal underneath is 925 sterling silver.

Gold vermeil is real gold
PHOTO: Is gold vermeil real gold?     The answer is yes.   Vermeil is genuine gold of at least 10k in purity.   This gold is electroplated on top of a base layer made from Sterling Silver.   

Is Gold Vermeil Hallmarked?

The base metal of gold vermeil is sterling (92.5%) silver.   Therefore, in terms of hallmarking, a gold vermeil jewellery piece will be hallmarked as Sterling Silver.  You should see a 925 stamp somewhere on the jewelry.    

Technically speaking the 925 stamp is a “fineness mark”, not a hallmark.   The fineness of a precious metal object (like silver) represents the purity of fine metal therein.  Gold vermeil jewellery does not contain 100% pure gold.  A layer of gold isn’t thick enough to serve as a gold hallmark.  So gold vermeil is stamped 925, to identify that the jewellery is mostly sterling silver and not solid gold.

In contrast gold plated jewelry may have no purity or fineness mark or could be stamped GP or GEP.    GP stands for “gold plated” and GEP is the mark for “gold electroplated”.  Electroplating is the process by which a thin layer of gold is applied to base metal using an electric current.

According to leading gemstone and jewelry authority, IGS, many gold-plated articles don’t have marks indicating the gold content by weight. Their marks only indicate plate karatage, like “14K GP or “10K Gold Plate,”.  You may find various markings in gold-plated areas. Many items contain marks such as RGP for “rolled gold plate” or HGP for “heavy gold plate.”

On the other hand, real gold jewelry can be identified by its fineness mark.  For example in the USA gold is typically stamped 10K (or 10kt), 14K, 18K or 22K.   

What is 14k Gold Vermeil?

If you’re a jewelry enthusiast or someone who loves wearing beautiful and unique pieces, you might have come across the term “14k gold vermeil.” But what exactly does it mean?   Moreover, why is 14k gold vermeil so popular?

The term “14k” refers to the gold content of the vermeil piece. In this case, 14k gold vermeil contains 58.3% pure gold and 41.7% other metals.   14k gold vermeil is a popular choice for jewelry markers and wearers alike.   One reason is the color.  14k gold has a rich tone and luxe look.   Furthermore, 14K gold provides an excellent mix of durability and affordability and accounts for about 90% of engagement and wedding rings sold.   18K and 24K gold vermeil is less durable, scratching more easily.

what is 14k gold vermeil
PHOTO: What is 14k gold vermeil? 14k gold vermeil uses 14 karat gold for plating over 925 sterling silver. The finish looks just like solid 14k gold. Seen above is a 14k gold vermeil ring and the same design in 925 silver.

How Long Does Gold Vermeil Last?

Have you ever wondered how long gold vermeil jewelry lasts?  If you’re a fan of elegant and affordable jewelry, then gold vermeil might have caught your attention. But just like any other type of jewelry, you might be curious about its durability and longevity.

So how long does gold vermeil last?    The answer is it depends on four factors.   First is the thickness of the gold layer.   Second is the quality of the base metal.   Third is how well the jewellery is cared for.    Finally, how long gold vermeil lasts depends on its type and how frequently its worn.   Generally, gold vermeil jewelry can last anywhere from 1 to 5 years or even longer with proper care.   After that signs of wear like dulling of the gold shade, or the base metal showing through will be obvious.   At that point replating is needed.

How long does gold vermeil last
TABLE: How long does gold vermeil last? Gold vermeil is considered resistant and durable. However, like all alloyed gold, with typical wear and use, the metal can naturally start to fade over time. The lifespan of gold vermeil jewelry largely depends on type, use and care.

Factors that Affect the Lifespan of Gold Vermeil Jewelry

1. Thickness of the Gold Layer

As mentioned earlier, the gold layer in vermeil jewelry must be at least 2.5 microns thick. The thicker the gold layer, the longer the jewelry will last. Thicker gold layers are more resistant to wear and tear, ensuring that your jewelry maintains its beauty for a longer period of time.  

2. Quality of the Base Metal

The base metal used in gold vermeil jewelry also plays a significant role in its lifespan. Sterling silver is needs to be used for the claim of gold vermeil to be authentic.  Ask the jeweler about the quality of the silver base.   Is nickel free silver used?

3. Jewelry Care

No metal is truly “waterproof” as the minerals and deposits in regular tap water can dull or damage your jewelry over time.  Showering with your vermeil jewelry will reduce lifespan because the soaps, shampoos, and conditioners you use can react with the metals.   Equally wearing jewelry whilst gardening or undertaking household chores like dishwashing will affect the lifespan of gold vermeil jewelry.

4. Jewelry type and Wearing Frequency

Gold vermeil earrings and necklaces will last longer than rings and bracelets.   This is because dangling earrings and loose necklaces don’t frequently rub against skin.   Earrings and necklaces also are knocked less and have lower wear and tear.

How frequently gold vermeil jewelry is worn also has an impact on lifespan.  For example, a gold vermeil ring worn everyday will last for about 1 year.   The same ring worn regularly (but not every day) might last 2-3 years.   If the gold vermeil ring is only worn occasionally its lifespan could be 5 years or even 10 years with care.


VIDEO:    Seen above is a video of a 14k gold vermeil ring from Luxuria® Diamonds. 

How to Care for Gold Vermeil

While gold vermeil is not as durable as solid gold, it can still last for many years if properly cared for.   To keep your gold vermeil jewelry looking its best, follow these simple care tips:

  1. Avoid harsh chemicals: Keep your gold vermeil jewelry away from harsh chemicals such as perfume, hairspray, and cleaning products. These can cause the gold layer to wear off more quickly.  A good practise is to make a habit of slipping off your rings when washing your hands.  
  2. Clean gently: Use a soft untreated cloth or a microfiber cloth to gently clean.  Simply rub your piece in one direction, wiping away any dirt.   We recommend avoiding using a jewelry polishing cloth or silver cloth unless they specifically say “un-treated”.  The reason is a polishing cloth will contain polishing agents and chemicals meant for silver, not gold.  These agents will be too harsh for your gold vermeil jewelry and can cause premature wear-down.
  3. Store properly: When you’re not wearing your gold vermeil jewelry, store it in a cool, dry place. Consider using a jewelry box or a soft pouch to protect it from dust, moisture, and scratches.   Another option is an airtight container. This helps keep air out and dryness in.

Please avoid the use of an ultrasonic cleaner on gold vermeil.   The ultrasonic waves can be disruptive to the metal bonding.  In fact, you shouldn’t use an ultrasonic cleaner on plated jewelry of any kind.


Gold vermeil is a stunning metal that allows us to create pieces that combine fashion and fine jewellery at an affordable price.

In this blog post, we’ve explored the truly golden world of gold vermeil.   This post has answered many questions including what is gold vermeil?    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 in purity or higher.   Furthermore, the base material must be sterling silver.

We’ve also discussed gold plated vs vermeil confirming the gold vermeil is real gold which is plated over sterling silver.   We’ve also answered the question of how long does gold vermeil last?    The blog has also defined what is 14k gold vermeil and how gold vermeil jewelry is typically hallmarked with the 925 stamp.   The blog closes with suggestions on how to care for gold vermeil jewelry?

Is gold vermeil right for you?  In the realm of gold jewelry, gold vermeil is the best quality jewelry you can get short of buying solid gold.   Gold vermeil is good alternative for people who want an affordable, durable option to solid gold – that look’s just like sold gold.   However, it is important to note that gold vermeil is not as durable as solid gold.   Gold vermeil will some maintenance and care when wearing to keep it looking its best.

About Us and Further Reading

Luxuria Diamonds is a designer and marketer of  diamond simulant rings and colored gemstone engagement rings.    Luxuria is a professional member of the International Gem Society (IGS), USA.

To learn more about Luxuria Diamonds please visit our Luxuria Brand page.

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