Gold vermeil is a type of jewelry, made from sterling silver, which has been plated with a layer of gold.
The combination of the sterling silver and gold is good for those who have an allergy to regular plated pieces of jewelry. It also offers you gold-looking items, without the high price of solid gold. This might sound like a great choice for you, but you’ll still want to be sure it’s right for you.
Does gold vermeil wear off? Gold vermeil can eventually wear off, but a determining factor in how long it lasts is the thickness of the gold plating. The thicker the gold plating on top of the sterling silver, the longer the gold vermeil will last. How you care for the jewelry will also have an effect on how long it lasts.
Getting to understand the difference between gold vermeil and other gold jewelry will help you decide whether gold vermeil jewelry is for you and whether it will wear off over time and be worth the purchase!
What Is Gold Vermeil?
Gold vermeil refers to a type of high quality silver that is coated in gold. It is also known as silver gilt or gilded silver.
There are three criteria that need to be met in order for jewelry to be considered gold vermeil:
- The base of the metal must be sterling (92.5%) or fine (99.9%) silver.
- The gold purity must be at least 10 karats or higher.
- The thickness of the gold coat should be at least 2.5 microns or 0.0025mm.
If all of the three criteria are not met, then the metal will be considered gold-filled or gold plated. Gold vermeil can also be rose gold, Hamilton gold, or other gold varieties; the color depends on taste and design.
To make gold vermeil jewelry, the item is first crafted in sterling (or fine) silver. It is then covered in gold through the process of electrolysis. In the past, it was crafted using the process of fire-gilding, but this has since been banned as it comes with inherent dangers.
If done right, electrolysis can result in a consistent quality and thickness that will allow the piece of jewelry to last for a very long time. It also ensures a good thickness to prevent fading and tarnishing, and with good care, the piece can keep its shine for many, many years.
How Long Does Gold Vermeil Jewelry Last?
Because the gold is on “top,” the gold coating will determine how long the vermeil lasts. How long gold vermeil jewelry lasts will depend on the thickness of the gold plating on top of the sterling silver. Thicker plating will last longer.
Along with the thickness of the gold vermeil, you should also take the purity of the vermeil into account. The higher the purity of gold, the softer it is, which means that it is more susceptible to scratches and other damages.
To help ensure the gold vermeil lasts longer, look for 14k or 18k gold vermeil. If you choose gold plating higher than this, it will be soft and more susceptible to damage, and any lower and it will not have that golden color you are after.
Other than the purity of the gold, the sterling silver also plays a small role in the longevity of the jewelry. Silver is known to oxidize over time, so the gold vermeil might start to tarnish eventually. This is not so much of an issue if you take care of the jewelry with regular cleaning and maintenance.
Will Gold Vermeil Wear Off?
Gold vermeil can eventually wear off, but this will take some time, especially if the jewelry piece is well made. Thicker plating, mid-range quality gold, as well as maintaining and carefully treating your piece can all greatly extend the life of vermeil.
Still, gold vermeil is generally more durable than other gold-plated options. Minimize the wear and tear your jewelry sees to help it last longer.
Does Gold Vermeil Turn Green?
Gold vermeil can turn green over time and leave a green mark on your skin. This most commonly happens when wearing a ring; you will notice a green or even black ring around your finger if you wear the ring constantly.
Sterling silver is responsible for this, and most gold vermeil is plated on top of sterling silver. As the sterling silver oxidizes, it reacts with the skin and causes that green mark. This green mark shows how your body reacts to various metals and doesn’t necessarily mean low-quality jewelry.
If there is itching around the green mark, it might be a sign that you are allergic to that specific type of metal. Most often, gold vermeil is used by those who are allergic to certain metals, with the gold plating protecting the skin from this reaction.
To reduce the chance of your skin turning green from jewelry, you can line the inside of the ring, or earring, with clear nail polish. This creates a barrier between your skin and the sterling silver under the gold plating and should prevent the green lines.
The only way to ensure that no green marking appears is to buy solid gold jewelry.
How To Maintain Gold Vermeil
If you practice proper care and maintenance, your gold vermeil jewelry can remain sparkling and bright for many years.
Here are some of the best care tips to help your vermeil jewelry keep its shine:
- When not being worn, you should place the gold vermeil jewelry in a fabric pouch, or a fabric-lined box. An airtight box is the best option, to prevent the oxidization of the silver base. I personally like this jewelry box.
- Do not place the gold vermeil near heat, as this can lead to deformation and discoloration. Avoid placing any weight on top of the jewelry as well, as this could deform it and cause damage as well.
- Wipe down gold vermeil jewelry after use. The surface of the jewelry will accumulate body oils, cosmetics, and grime which could cause the jewelry to lose its sparkle and to fade.
- Do not wipe gold vermeil with coarse fabrics or harsh chemicals, as this could strip the gold coating off the silver base. Use 100% cotton or microfiber cloth to gently wipe the jewelry with some warm soapy water.
- Do not use chemicals to clean gold vermeil. This includes washing liquid, makeup, and other soaps. Avoid contact with pool chlorine as well. These will strip the gold and discolor the jewelry.
Can You Wear Gold Vermeil Every Day?
You can wear gold vermeil every day. There are so many types of gold vermeil jewelry pieces available, you can match them with every outfit.
Gold vermeil will not tarnish as much as pure silver does, but it can tarnish slightly over time and this will cause it to look dirty and to fade slightly over time.
In order to keep your gold vermeil jewelry looking as clean and beautiful as possible, here are some rules to follow:
- Make sure to store gold vermeil jewelry in a fabric pouch when it is not worn.
- Remove the gold vermeil jewelry when you are going to shower, exercise, or swim.
- Remove your jewelry before going to bed.
- Always put your jewelry on after applying perfume, as the ingredients could corrode the gold coating.
- If you wear your jewelry when cleaning, wear rubber gloves to protect the gold coating against bleach and harsh chemicals.
Gold vermeil jewelry is perfectly fine to wear every day, you just have to take some precautions to ensure that the gold coating does not wear down or become tarnished. The jewelry will look just like the real thing if you follow the above rules!
Can You Shower With Gold Vermeil?
With a base of sterling silver, there is always a chance of oxidization with gold vermeil jewelry. There is also a chance that the gold might start to fade over time.
Contact with water, soap, and other chemicals can speed up this process and cause the gold layer to start to fade more quickly.
Due to this, you should always remove gold vermeil jewelry before showering. You should also remove it before coming into contact with any water, such as when swimming or cleaning dishes.
This will go quite a long way in ensuring that your gold vermeil jewelry lasts longer and that it doesn’t fade or tarnish easily. This is definitely one downside to gold vermeil jewelry, it is a wonderful material but does take quite a bit more care and effort than silver or gold jewelry.
Can You Wash Your Hands With Gold Vermeil?
In order to extend the shelf life of your gold vermeil jewelry, you should not wash your hands with gold vermeil jewelry on. Chances are that you are washing your hands with hand soap, and the chemicals that the hand soap might contain could fade or tarnish the gold vermeil.
It’s better to remove any rings or bracelets you might have, wash your hands, and then put them back on.
You should also not wear your gold vermeil jewelry while applying hand lotion, as you cannot be sure how the jewelry might react to the ingredients in the hand lotion.
Be wary of leaving your jewelry next to the sink when you wash your hands – as it can be really easy for them to slip off the sink and disappear down the drain!
It might be a good idea to have a little container next to the sink where you can place your jewelry while you wash your hands. This jewelry holder is perfect to keep by your sink.
When it comes to washing dishes if you don’t want to remove your jewelry, wear protective gloves that will keep water and harsh chemicals off of the gold vermeil pieces.
Is Gold Vermeil Better Than Gold Plated?
There are quite a few differences between gold vermeil and gold plated jewelry, even though they look almost identical at first. Gold vermeil might be a little pricier, but it is definitely the better choice between the two.
Here are some of the differences between gold vermeil and gold plated jewelry, explaining why you should choose gold vermeil when given the choice:
There can be a difference in the core metals used between gold-plated and gold vermeil pieces. Gold vermeil is most commonly plated on sterling silver, whereas there is no restriction as to what the core metal of gold plated pieces can be.
A gold vermeil piece cannot actually be sold as gold vermeil if it is not plated on silver, and this is regulated. You are always sure of the core metal with gold vermeil, but the same cannot be said with gold-plated pieces.
Thickness Of Plating
There is a minimum thickness requirement for plating with gold vermeil in the U.S. This gold coating needs to be at least 2.5 microns or 0.0025mm.
There is no similar requirement for gold plated items, so the plating can vary in thickness, and may even be very thin. There are no regulations ensuring the thickness is decent enough, and you just cannot be sure of what you are getting.
You will most commonly find that gold vermeil is more expensive than gold-plated pieces of similar size and weight. This is because the gold vermeil is made with sterling silver, whereas gold-plated jewelry can be made with many other cheaper metals.
While gold vermeil is considered to be more expensive, you will get a piece of jewelry that lasts longer.
The durability difference between gold plated and gold vermeil jewelry depends on the karat of the gold plating use, as well as the thickness and the alloy used to make the core.
Silver is a fairly soft metal, so you can expect a gold vermeil piece to bend easily unless its core has been strengthened with other materials.
A gold-plated piece of jewelry will only be harder than gold vermeil if it is made with stronger core metals.
The karat of the gold coating will also determine durability, with a higher karat gold being softer and not as durable, and lower-karat alloys being hardier and scratch-resistant. As mentioned above as well, plate thickness also determines durability.
Protection Against Allergies
Many people find that they suffer from allergies when wearing certain jewelry. Metals such as nickel, copper, cobalt, and chromium can all cause allergic reactions. This, however, does not happen with gold vermeil, as it only contains gold and silver.
If there are any other materials mixed in with the vermeil, a seller is required to disclose this. Make sure to inquire as to whether there are other materials in the gold vermeil you are looking to purchase.
Is Gold Vermeil Worth Anything?
Yes, gold vermeil can be worth some money. While it will not be worth as much as solid gold, it has a good balance between quality and value. It is less expensive than solid gold but looks exactly like a solid gold piece.
Keep in mind that gold vermeil needs to be plated with gold which is 10 karats or more to be considered authentic vermeil, and should not contain any other materials other than silver and gold.
How is Vermeil Jewelry Marked?
There is no specific marking that one might find on gold vermeil jewelry. If there is a stamp present, it could be denoting the standard of silver purity, which is a good indication that the piece does have a silver core.
How Do I Clean Gold Vermeil Jewelry?
If you want to clean your gold vermeil jewelry, wash it gently with a small amount of gentle dish soap or a non-chemical soap mixed in with some warm water. Wipe it with a 100% cotton or microfiber cloth.
Rinse the jewelry well and allow it to sit and air dry on a cloth or paper towel. When dry, you can gently rub the surface with a non-abrasive cloth, or a jewelry cloth, in a circular motion, to buff it and give it more shine.