Most jewelry lovers believe that the terms vermeil, gold-plated and gold filled are interchangeable, but these styles of jewelry differ considerably.

Let's go through the basic definition of each and then evaluate them and discuss how you can identify which one is best for you.

Vermeil Jewelry
Vermeil, also known as “silver gilt”, refers to high quality (pure or sterling) silver plated with a thin gold layer. Vermeil jewelry is  created by electroplating silver with gold using a chemical method that bonds the two metals together. Jewelry deemed true vermeil by US standards meets predefined standards such as being 2.5 microns thick and at least 10k or higher.

Vermeil typically looks like gold to the naked eye, making it a great substitute for pure gold jewelry. You can also shine it up to give it a beautiful glossy finish or leave it to tarnish for a vintage look.

Gold Plated Jewelry
Gold-plated jewelry is silver, brass, copper or other mixed metals electroplated with a top layer of gold. Usually less costly than vermeil, gold-plated jewelry doesn’t require any minimum karat weight or thickness. Although, a gold-plated piece can potentially be more valuable than a vermeil piece if it has a high gold karat weight (20 or 22k) and a thick layer of gold.

 The plating process allows jewelry to look like solid gold, while being more affordable. By having gold-plated jewelry, you get to partake in trends without worrying that you’ve made a huge investment into something that will not last long.

Gold-Filled Jewelry
Unlike vermeil and gold-plated jewelry, gold-filled jewelry has a thicker layer of gold over the base metal, often as much as 100% thicker. This makes a big difference in terms of the jewelry’s ability to resist longterm wear and tear. Although the base metal is usually brass or another mixed metal, it would be difficult to tell the difference between “real” gold and a gold-filled piece.

Gold-filled jewelry is a perfect cost-effective alternative to solid gold. It can last as long as solid gold and won't tarnish or rub off if taken care of.