Gold Vermeil, Gold Filled and 14K Solid Gold Distinguished:
A Guide to Knowing your Gold Jewelry
When it comes to purchasing gold jewelry, there are so many options in price and quality that could turn this process into a chore, when it should be an otherwise fun thing to do.
This could be more confusing if you are a jewelry novice. You assume the term “gold jewelry” is meant to last forever, then you make a purchase without prior knowledge, only for the jewelry to lose its color or tarnish in a few months.
We know this could be disappointing, the reason why we have taken time out to create this article for you to know the difference between gold vermeil, gold filled and 14K solid gold.
While the presence of gold makes each type more valuable and durable than costume jewelry, you’ll want to carefully consider the qualities of each before choosing which to add to your jewelry box
First, let’s have a grasp of the basic meaning of each, differentiate them and consider which is best for you.
Gold Vermeil refers to superior sterling silver that is plated with a thin layer of gold. The majority of vermeil jewelry available now are forged by electroplating sterling silver with gold, a chemical procedure that uses an electrical current to bind the two metals together.
However, at Azura Jewelry, our vermeil engagement rings and jewelry are electroplated with three layers of 14karat gold to span for a longer period.
To be considered as true vermeil jewelry in the US, the jewelry piece must meet ALL of these conditions:
- Have sterling silver as its base material. Sterling silver is an alloy made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other materials and is a standard material used in high-quality jewelry (versus, e.g., brass or copper).
- Be plated in gold at least 10k (10 karats), which means the gold is at least 41.7% gold content.
- Have gold plating that is at least 2.5 microns thick. A micron is 1/1000th of a millimetre.
Source: Federal Trade Commission
Gold Filled Jewelry
Unlike vermeil jewelry, gold filled jewelry has a much thicker layer of gold mechanically bonded to a base of either sterling silver, brass or some base metal.
This makes a huge difference in terms of the jewelry’s ability to resist wear and tear long term.
Gold-filled jewelry is a great economical alternative to solid gold. If taken care of, it can last as long as solid gold and won’t tarnish or rub off.
However, gold filled jewelry is known to cause potential skin irritation because of the base metal used (brass, alloy e.t.c ), thereby giving a greenish discoloration to the finger.
Another disadvantage is that if you were to resell your gold-filled jewelry, it would not have as much value as solid gold jewelry.
14 Karat Gold
So What’s the Difference Between Gold Vermeil, Gold Filled and 14karat Gold?
Having an in-depth understanding of the individual differences and qualities of each jewelry category will help you determine if it matches your standards. Lets a take a look at their unique differences;
Vermeil Jewelry is composed of two precious metals (gold and sterling silver), it’s usually thought of as being closer to fine jewelry and tends to fall under the category “demi-fine.”.
However, gold-filled jewelry is composed of two or three thick layers of gold with brass or another low-end material as its base metal, protecting the jewelry from tarnishing and discoloration.
While 14karat gold jewelry majorly consists of 32% alloy metal making it durable for everyday wear.
Vermeil pieces are usually created from electroplating and the minimum required gold is much lower than gold filled jewelry. While certain vermeil pieces can tarnish easily, others with thick plating may last as long as a gold-filled piece.
Gold-filled jewelry isn’t created through electroplating, but rather through bonding with heat. Authentic gold filled jewelry should have a minimum of 5% gold weight, so ensure the outer gold layer is at least this thick.
14 karat gold isn’t electroplated either, rather it’s filled with 58% pure gold combined with alloy making it a valuable piece of jewelry.
For vermeil jewelry, the higher the karat weight, thickness of the gold layer and gemstone used, the more expensive and valuable the piece will usually be. While gold-filled jewelry, is a great economical alternative to solid gold, 14k gold jewelry is the most expensive and high-quality option as it’s long-lasting, doesn’t rub off or flake, and doesn’t tarnish. Gold increases in value over time, and solid gold jewelry has the best resale value.
It’s no gainsaying that the most durable of these three categories is the 14 karat gold. This is due to its higher gold content and alloy combination, unlike its counterparts. However, it is important to note that while certain vermeil pieces can tarnish easily, others with thick plating may last as long as a gold-filled piece.
So Which Type of Jewelry Should I Choose?
If you’re looking for the highest-quality, a vermeil collection with thick plating is the best quality jewelry you can get short of buying solid gold.
For people who want a cheap, high-quality alternative to solid gold, vermeil is your answer!
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,
While pure 14k gold is 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.
How Do I Care For My Gold Jewelry Choice?
Caring for your piece of jewelry comes in handy. Either it’s vermeil or gold-filled, keep it free from dust, makeup, aerosols, pool and any pollution to avoid discoloration.
As a rule of thumb, apply any perfume and makeup prior to putting on this jewelry. When not being worn, it’s advisable you keep it in an airtight bag or box free from heat.
To clean your gold vermeil, gold filled and also 14k gold jewelry, gently rinse with warm water and gentle liquid soap. Rinse and pat dry.
To see a varied collection of pieces of varying designs, gemstones, colors, and prices, take a look at the great selection of gold at Azura Jewelry.
Finally, While pure 14k 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 swanky.
Want to learn more
See other post comparing 10k, 14k and 18k gold