Gold vermeil is pure sterling silver covered in real gold. It’s an ancient technique that remains the best material for high-quality, affordable jewelry.
The word vermeil is pronounced vur-MAY, with a silent L (thank you, French!).British English speakers might also use the terms silver-gilt or gilded silver.
Gold vermeil is very different than gold plated. Gold plate uses a microscopic layer of gold and could have any metal underneath. Vermeil has a generous gold layer and always has a base of pure sterling silver.
Sometimes people wonder if gold vermeil is fine jewelry or fashion jewelry. Great question!
Fine jewelry is expensive because it’s crafted of solid gold, silver, or platinum.Fashion jewelry is budget-friendly because it’s made of other metals.
The answer is—gold vermeil is neither! It’s in its own category, called “demi-fine.” That’s because gold vermeil is 100% pure precious metal but has two metals instead of one.
The famousVermeil Room at the White House is so named because it’s full of decorations made of—you guessed it!—gold vermeil.
But the most common use for gold vermeil today is in jewelry. It contains pure silver and gold but is much more affordable than traditional solid gold jewelry.
We’d forgive you for thinking this Blush and BarClementine Choker 3-in-1 Necklace is solid gold! It’s actually 18k gold vermeil and costs a fraction of what you’d expect.
Pros and cons of gold vermeil
If you aren’t already a fan of gold vermeil, let’s look at a few pros and cons. No type of jewelry is perfect, and the same goes for vermeil.
Gold vermeil is a durable type of jewelry. If you take care of it, vermeil can last decades. That’s because the layer of gold is much thicker than gold-plated jewelry.
When I was little, I saw my great-grandmother’s gold ring with deep scratches in it. Gold vermeil won’t stand generations of mistreatment like that, but if you’re looking for a ring to last a while, gold vermeil is a smart choice.
Gold vermeil jewelry is worth slightly more than pure silver. That’s because, in addition to the sterling silver, it’s coated in a thin layer of real gold. But because it isn’t solid gold, it’s far more budget-friendly than fine jewelry.
Gold vermeil is good quality when compared with cheaper jewelry. Since it’s made from precious metal, it has real value and is as durable as silver.
Pro: Doesn’t tarnish
On cheap gold-plated jewelry, the microscopic gold layer can wear away in a few months and start turning your finger green. Gold vermeil doesn’t tarnish or turn green because gold doesn’t tarnish! Vermeil lasts much longer than gold plate and has pure polishable silver underneath.
Con: Not waterproof
Like all gold jewelry, gold vermeil shouldn’t get wet. We don’t recommend wearing your gold vermeil jewelry in the shower, at the beach, or while washing dishes.
Con: Not solid gold
You already knew this! Vermeil is high-quality and durable, but under the surface isn’t the solid gold it looks like.
Are you wondering if gold vermeil is the right choice for you?
Gold vermeil might be the perfect choice if you:
Are tired of flimsy fashion jewelry. Have you ever bought “gold” fashion jewelry, only to see it break or rub off in a few months? Gold vermeil is the solution you’ve been looking for. It’s often the same price but lasts years or decades—not months.
Are looking for the perfect gift. Most of my friends aren’t looking to spend thousands when they buy a gift for their BFF… but nothing says “cheap” like gold-plated jewelry. Gold vermeil is the perfect combo of budget-friendly precious jewelry.
Have sensitive skin. Gold vermeil is hypoallergenic, which means it’s gentle on your skin and doesn’t make you itch like cheap pieces. All Blush and Bar jewelry is certified free of nickel, lead, and cadmium.
Travel the world. Thieves love tourists with fine jewelry. Instead, leave your priceless items—wedding rings, gold necklaces, diamond earrings—at home. Gold vermeil stand-ins are perfect for Instagram but give you peace of mind instead of risking family heirlooms.
Want to look great on a budget. Even expert jewelers can’t tell apart solid gold and vermeil. You can look the part for a fraction of the price.
Value experiences over things.A gold ring can cost as much as a dream vacation. We’re thrilled to read of Blush and Bar customers who save on jewelry for the experience of a lifetime. Some couples even buy vermeil wedding rings to afford theirdream honeymoon!
The adorable Bella Paw Rose Quartz Ring is one of our best sellers, and for good reason! Its heart-shaped paw design is made of 18k gold vermeil, designed to sparkle like your fur baby’s love.
Which is better? Gold vermeil vs. gold filled vs. gold-plated
Jewelry companies throw around many words that all sound the same but mean very different things.
Because of that, the average customer can struggle to tell the difference between a high-quality piece and something that won’t last the weekend.
And that’s intentional. Jewelers know they can add the word “gold” to a sales page and charge sky-high prices.
Enough of that. Here are the plain English explanations of the US Federal Trade Commission’sjewelry guidelines.
Once you learn what these terms mean, you’ll never get ripped off again!
Gold colored and gold washed
Thank you, next.
“Gold colored” just means it’s the color of gold—there is zero gold anywhere on the piece.
And “gold washed” just means the amount of gold is a few decimals above zero. If a company uses this term, it’s because they can’t legally even say it’s gold-plated.
Neither of these is “gold jewelry” in any sense of the word.
My recommendation: Avoid at all costs.
Gold electroplated and gold plated
These terms are mostly the same, except “electroplated” has less gold than “plated.”
Gold-plated jewelry uses any type of metal—usually something cheap, like brass or copper—and coats it with a microscopic layer of gold.
I mean “microscopic” literally. The legal limit for gold electroplated is 0.175 microns, 1/500th the thickness of a sheet of printer paper.
Your skin wears down that thin gold layer in a few months, and almost all household objects can scratch it off. That’s why gold-plated jewelry has nearly zero resale value.
My recommendation:Not bad if you’re looking for “wear-it-once” jewelry, but a poor choice for something you plan to keep for a while.
Gold-filled is a bad name! A better term would be “filled gold.”
Before inventing theelectrolysis process, jewelers sandwiched a piece of base metal between two gold plates. They would then form this into jewelry.
Gold-filled is the most expensive choice after solid gold. That’s because the “sandwiching” process is old-fashioned and time-consuming. Gold-filled jewelry is also usually less intricate because the “metal sandwich” is hard to shape.
Legally, gold-filled must be at least 5% gold by weight. That is a lot more than gold-plated, but the center is still a cheap, possibly allergenic, metal.
Gold-filled is an okay choice, but its outdated process means you’ll pay more. Not exactly ideal.
My recommendation:Better quality than gold-plated, but rarely worth the cost since 95% of the jewelry is a common base metal.
The most premium type of gold vermeil is 18k. It’s all we sell at Blush and Bar. This daintySasha Sparkle Ring comes in 18k rose gold and 18k yellow gold vermeil (pictured).
Legally, gold vermeil must be made of sterling silver, which is 92.5% silver and 7.5% of another metal added for strength. (Pure silver, like pure gold, is too soft for durable jewelry.)
The gold coating must be at least 2.5 microns thick—14 times the thickness of gold electroplating’s 0.175-micron requirement.
Like fine jewelry, gold vermeil contains only precious metals. It balances the quality, value, and durability of precious metals with the affordability of gold coating.
My recommendation: Not quite solid gold, but the best choice for those of us without hundreds or thousands of dollars to spend on one ring!
Solid gold is just that—gold all the way through. It’s not 100% gold since that would be really soft and easily scratched.
It’s typically 18-karat or 14-karat, which means it’s blended with other strengthening metals.
My recommendation: Solid gold jewelry has always been valuable and probably always will be. It’s the best money can buy, if you have the budget for it.
How to buy gold vermeil (2021 buying guide)
As I researched this guide, I realized that many websites tell you what gold vermeil is, but they don’t explain how to buy it.
Here at Blush and Bar, we know our jewelry. I’ll share the industry secrets jewelers know so you can make a smart choice.
Earrings lie directly on our skin, which is why you should only use gentle metals. We craft these sparklingSwarovski Crystal Stud Earrings from hypoallergenic, nickel-free gold vermeil.
Read the fine print
Yes, there is fine print! Specifically, two exceptions to the guidelines I mentioned earlier.
First, see if your gold vermeil piece mentions nickel, which can cause allergies. In the United States, jewelers are allowed to use nickel as a strengthening metal in gold vermeil, but they must say so. All Blush and Bar jewelry is proudly nickel-free.
And second, check for Canadian brands. Canadian guidelines are different than those in the US and only require gold vermeil to be 1.0 micron thick. If you’re buying from Canada, ask how thick the gold layer is.
Decide on the karat amount
Because gold is too soft to make long-lasting jewelry, it’s mixed with strengthening metals called alloys. Light gray alloys create white gold, and reddish alloys create rose gold.
The ratio of gold is measured in fractions of 1/24ths, called karats. So 24k gold is 100% (24/24ths), 23k gold is 96% (23/24ths), and so on. The higher the karat amount, the better.
Fine jewelry brands likeTiffany & Co. use 18k gold (75%), and that’s what we use here at Blush and Bar.
Most gold vermeil I’ve found is 14 karats (58% gold). The manufacturer saves money with 14k instead of 18k, and most consumers don’t know the difference.
The lowest you’ll ever see is 10k, as anything lower than 10k can’t legally be called gold in the United States. It’s only 42% gold.
We stamp all Blush and Bar gold vermeil jewelry and include a certificate of authenticity. You can see the gold vermeil “925” and sterling silver “S925” stamps inside these gorgeousGreen Garen Rings.
Learn jewelry stamps to avoid scams
All high-quality jewelry should have a small stamp that says what it’s made of. If you’re buying jewelry in person, don’t trust what the seller says. Go by the seal.
Solid gold jewelry will have a karat number, like 10K or 18K.
Sterling silver, which is 92.5% silver and 7.5% strengthening metal, will say STERLING, S925, or 925.
You can test if a piece of jewelry is real gold vermeil by looking at the stamp inside. Real gold vermeil with a base of sterling silver will also say STERLING, S925, or 925.
Any other marking is not gold vermeil. Here’s what other standard stamps mean:
GP or KP: Gold plated
GEP: Gold electroplated
HGE or HGP: Heavy gold electroplate
RGP: Rolled gold plate (another term for gold-filled)
What if a piece of jewelry doesn’t have a stamp? It might be a rare vintage piece, made before stamping was standard. But most likely, it’s not made of any precious metal and is only gold-colored.
EveryBlush and Bar ring comes in luxury packaging with a ribbon bow. It comes with a velour ring box, certificate of authenticity, and velvet drawstring pouch (perfect for safe storage).
What else to look for when buying gold vermeil
As you decide where to buy gold vermeil, there are a few other factors to look for.
A nice box. This is especially important if you’re proposing with the ring or giving it as a gift! Cheap jewelry retailers often ship jewelry in a cheap Ziploc bag, bubble wrap, or flimsy cardboard box. A quality box protects your ring and transforms jewelry into an elegant part of your daily routine.
A strong warranty. You never know what will happen, and a warranty offers extra protection. Many fine jewelers provide a guarantee, but most vermeil sellers don’t. All our pieces at Blush and Bar come with ourindustry-leading lifetime warranty.
Great reviews and customer support. Look for a company you can trust with plenty of positive reviews. Jewelers often Photoshop product photos to look perfect—you’ll get the real scoop from previous customers. We’re proud to have five stars based onhundreds of honest reviews.
Fast shipping. Sometimes, jewelry companies offer super-cheap prices because they ship directly from China. Packages take 3-4 weeks and often arrive damaged or dirty. (And good luck with returns.) We ship from our warehouse in Lafayette, Indiana.
If you’d like to store your jewelry safely, the Blush and BarMini Leather Jewelry Box is a great choice. It’s travel size and protects rings and other pieces from dust and moisture.
How to clean and care for gold vermeil jewelry
Once you have your jewelry, how should you care for it?
There are few guidelines we recommend to keep your gold vermeil looking great for years. Here are the essential tips for propervermeil jewelry care.
1. Store it safely. The most important tip is to store your jewelry in a clean, dry place. Ajewelry box is the best choice, but separate plastic or velvet bags away from sunlight or humidity work well, too. All Blush and Bar rings come with a velvet pouch that’s perfect for storage.
2. Keep it dry. Like solid gold and silver jewelry, vermeil shouldn’t get wet. Even trace minerals and chemicals in the water can wear gold out over time. If you wear your rings in the pool, while washing dishes, or sweating in the gym, dry the jewelry afterward.
3. Wipe down nightly. When you take your jewelry off at night, wipe each piece with a clean towel. Water, sweat, anddust can erode stored jewelry. Plus, it keeps it looking sparkly!
4. Avoid lotions and makeup.Your beauty routine keeps you looking your best, but it does the opposite for your jewelry. A good rule of thumb is that jewelry is “last on, first off.” That makes sure you don’t accidentally rub lotion into an earring or remove nail polish while wearing a ring.
The final word on gold vermeil
Gold vermeil is one of the most interesting inventions in the jewelry world.
Once reserved for ancient rulers and French royalty, today’s techniques have made gold vermeil possible for anyone to own.
Whether you’re looking for a quality gift or hypoallergenic everyday piece, gold vermeil fits the bill.
Want to see what kind of styles are possible with gold vermeil?