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A Golden Guide: Gold Plated vs. Gold Vermeil vs. Gold Filled vs. Solid Gold

A Golden Guide: Gold Plated vs. Gold Vermeil vs. Gold Filled vs. Solid Gold

Welcome to the sparkling world of gold jewelry! At Jordan Lily HQ, we believe that understanding jewellery materials is essential for making informed choices.

In this blog post, we'll delve into the realm of gold plating, gold filled jewellery, and gold vermeil, as we unravel the differences and help you discover the right option for you and your budget.

What is Gold-Plated Jewellery and is Gold Plated Jewellery High Quality?

Gold Plated Jewellery

Plating jewellery in gold is one of the most affordable options when it comes to adding gold to your jewellery collection. Crafted by electroplating, a thin layer of gold is applied onto a base metal.

I often hear people ask is gold plated jewellery good quality? Or, how long does gold-plated jewellery last? Three things to keep in mind with gold plated pieces are:

  • How thin is the plated gold? Many high street shops will gold-plate a very thin layer of gold to keep costs down, this is often referred to as 'flash-plating' and can be as little as 0.5 microns or less. This means that the gold can wear away very quickly and leave you with just the base metal.

  • What is the base metal? Base metals can vary, but it is often brass or copper, which means that once the gold has worn away you can be left with a metal that could contain nickel and is likely to turn your fingers green!

  • What type of jewellery is it, and where is it worn on the body? Because gold-plating will wear away with use, it can be helpful to consider the type of jewellery and whether it will be in a lot of contact with the skin. Jewellery like rings and chains are in constant contact with the skin which means plating will wear away more quickly. Whereas on an item like hoop earrings, it's more likely for the plating to wear away on the earring post rather than the hoop itself.

Gold plating is a fantastic affordable option to add to your jewellery collection without breaking the bank, but it's worth keeping in mind that the gold layer will wear off over time exposing the base metal beneath.

Gold Plated vs Gold Vermeil Jewellery

Gold Vermeil Jewellery

Gold Vermeil (pronounced ver-may) has the same application process as gold-plated jewellery, however there are specific requirements the plating must meet to be considered Gold Vermeil. The term "vermeil" itself originates from the French word for silver, which confirms its historical association with the traditional silver-gilt techniques.

This specific plating process involves a much thicker gold layer than traditional gold plating, typically at least 2.5 microns thick, ensuring a more durable and long-lasting finish. The term Gold Vermeil also refers to the base metal which must be sterling silver, rather than steel, brass or copper.

Gold Vermeil jewellery often offers an appearance similar to solid gold, at a much more affordable price point. When properly cared for, Gold Vermeil jewellery can retain its golden layer for years, however it is essential to follow some key maintenance guidelines to ensure its longevity. Keep reading for my top tips for keeping gold vermeil at its best!

Gold Vermeil at Jordan Lily

At Jordan Lily HQ, our gorgeous collection of handmade Hoops are available with Gold Vermeil plating, an excellent choice for adding some gold into your everyday jewellery collection. They are plated with 2.5 microns of 9ct recycled yellow gold.

I also offer the option of a low-cost re-plating service to replenish the gold layer years down the line to get back the original thickness. Please email me to discuss.

Is Gold Vermeil or Gold Filled Better?

Gold Filled Jewellery

Unlike Gold Plated jewellery and Gold Vermeil Jewellery, Gold Filled jewellery goes through a different process. Gold Filled jewellery contains a thick layer of gold that is mechanically bonded to a base metal core, where the gold usually weighs around 5% or 1/20th of the total weight.

This mechanical process involves heat and pressure which ensures a more substantial piece that lasts longer, and is less likely to wear off easily with regular use.

Here at Jordan Lily HQ, we use Gold Filled metals in many of our gold pieces, specifically for components that come into contact with more wear and tear: beaded bracelets, charms, beaded rings, necklace chains and earring hooks to name a few!

When caring for gold filled jewelry, it is recommended to clean it gently using mild soap and water, avoiding harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that could potentially damage the gold layer.

Is Gold Vermeil Jewellery Hallmarked?

It's important to note, that gold-plated, gold vermeil and gold filled jewellery is not solid gold. Whilst each of these contain a certain amount of gold, wether that be the thin layers of 'flash-plating' or a more substantial layers associated with vermeil, it is still technically a layered composite metal. Therefore, jewellery made with these techniques are excluded from hallmarking requirements.

Gold Vermeil pieces that are over 7.78g will be required to be hallmarked for the silver base content, which means the hallmark is the standard silver hallmark.

Gold Vermeil vs. Solid Gold Jewellery - which is better?

If you're looking to add gold to your jewellery collection, or gift something extra special, nothing really beats solid gold. As the name suggests, solid gold jewellery is made entirely of gold and is often considered the epitome of luxury and timeless elegance.

Solid gold jewellery is made from a specific carat of gold (in the UK, these are usually 9ct, 18ct or 24ct gold, whereas in the US 14k is also popular). These carats (or karats) indicate the purity of the gold content, the higher the number the higher the gold content. However, a high gold content isn't always the most desirable as the more gold present the softer the metal. It's also worth noting that there is also a variation in the colour of gold with different carats, 9ct gold has a champagne tone, whereas the higher content 18 and 24cts have a much deeper buttery colour.

Solid gold is unmatched in quality and durability making it a lasting investment and a great option for heirlooms. But it does come at a price! Gold prices fluctuate daily and can be impacted significantly by world events and economics. 

New for A/W 2023 is my first solid gold piece, my Solid Gold Hammered Stacking Ring. It's a 'made to order' ring as it has an extended turnaround time to allow for ordering in materials and the hallmarking process. I also take requests to create designs in solid gold or work in gold for bespoke pieces.

Taking Care of Gold: Jewellery Care for Gold Vermeil

Proper care and maintenance are essential for preserving the longevity of gold vermeil jewelry. While gold vermeil is durable, it requires a gentle touch and upkeep to ensure it looks its best. Here are some care tips to keep your gold vermeil pieces in tip top condition:

  1. Avoid exposure to chemicals: Remove your gold vermeil jewelry before swimming, showering, or engaging in activities that involve contact with chemicals such as lotions, perfumes, or cleaning agents. Chemicals can cause the gold layer to tarnish or wear off over time.

  2. Handle with care: Avoid rough handling or storing your gold vermeil jewelry with other items that may cause scratches or damage. It's best to store each piece separately in a soft cloth or a jewelry box with individual compartments to prevent tangling and friction.

  3. Clean gently: To clean your gold vermeil jewelry, use a soft, lint-free cloth and gently wipe away any dirt or residue. Avoid using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals, as these can scratch or erode the gold layer. If necessary, you can dampen the cloth with mild soapy water, but be sure to rinse and dry the jewelry thoroughly afterward.

  4. Polish occasionally: Over time, the gold vermeil layer may naturally wear down or become dull. To restore its shine, you can use one of my non-abrasive gold polishing cloth specifically designed for gold jewelry. Gently rub the cloth over the surface of the jewelry to revive its luster.

  5. Store properly: When not in use, store your gold vermeil jewelry in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Exposure to sunlight and excessive moisture can accelerate the tarnishing process.

  6. Opt for re-plating: If your gold vermeil jewelry requires more thorough restoration re-plating is a great affordable option for maintaining your favourite piece of jewellery.

By following these care guidelines, you can ensure that your gold vermeil jewelry is at its best for years to come!

Knowing Your Gold

Understanding the differences between gold plating, gold filled, and gold vermeil empowers you to make confident choices when it comes to selecting your perfect jewellery piece.

Whether you opt for the affordable allure of gold plating, the durability of gold filling, or the luxurious excellence of gold vermeil, each option has its own unique charm. At Jordan Lily HQ we take pride in offering you a stunning collection of jewellery that caters to your individual preferences and budget. Explore our gold designs and embrace gold in a way that works for you!

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