“Gold-plated, or gold vermeil –What’s the difference? Is one better than the other?” These are questions our jewelry design students of Harold Studio and Harold Jewelry customers alike have asked.
You’ll find the answers to these burning questions here.
Many have made the accurate assumption that vermeil is more refined just based on the name alone. We agree, vermeil definitely sounds fancier than gold-plated. The word vermeil, pronounced ‘ver-may’ is French in origin, meaning silver. It is also sometimes referred to as ‘silver-gilt.’
The reason that vermeil is considered to be of higher refinement – and value is not because vermeil consists of pure gold only, but rather a thin layer of gold over a piece made of silver. Whereas, the gold-plating process is a thin layer of gold applied over a mixture of non-gold metal. Plus, the gold used for plating can be a range of purity levels.
If this sounds all a bit nit-picky, wait, there’s more. Legally, there are even more qualifiers for vermeil to actually be considered ‘vermeil’ in the United States. A silver piece of jewelry must be coated with pure gold that is a minimum of 10 karats. Additionally, the thickness of the gold layer must be no less than 2.5 microns (about 100/1,000,000ths of an inch of fine gold).
Vermeil does wear a bit better than gold – plated, too. It can be polished to a high shine and look like real gold. Or, you can let it oxidize over a period of time and wear, to have it take on a vintage appearance.
Price-wise, it’s right in the middle. it’s more affordable than pure gold or gold-filled jewelry, and as noted above, more expensive than gold-plated jewelry.
We hope that answered your questions about the difference between gold-plated vs. vermeil! If you’re still curious about the jewelry design process, you can check out our offerings of upcoming classes. If you want a custom piece of jewelry made, Johanna of Harold Jewelry https://haroldjewelry.com/collections/jewelry/products/initial-necklace takes custom orders.