Gold over silver jewelry, also known as gold vermeil, is a popular choice for those seeking the elegance of gold with the affordability and durability of silver. However, a common question among jewelry enthusiasts is whether gold over silver tarnishes over time.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the properties of gold-plated silver jewelry, the factors that can contribute to tarnishing, and essential care tips to help you maintain the shine and beauty of your gold over silver pieces.

Understanding Gold Over Silver Jewelry (Gold Vermeil):

Gold over silver jewelry, often referred to as gold vermeil, is created by applying a layer of gold to the surface of a sterling silver base. The gold layer is typically thicker than traditional gold plating, making gold vermeil jewelry more durable and resistant to wear and tarnish.

To be considered gold vermeil, the gold layer must meet certain standards. The gold plating should be at least 10 karats and have a minimum thickness of 2.5 microns. This ensures that the gold layer is substantial enough to withstand everyday wear and maintain its appearance.

Does Gold Over Silver Tarnish?

The gold layer in gold over silver jewelry may tarnish. However, gold is a noble metal that does not react easily with the elements in the environment. However, the sterling silver base beneath the gold layer can be more prone to tarnishing over time.

Tarnishing of sterling silver is a natural process that occurs when the metal reacts with sulfur-containing substances in the air, such as hydrogen sulfide. This reaction creates silver sulfide, a dark-colored compound that forms on the surface of the silver and gives it a tarnished appearance.

Factors that Contribute to Tarnishing:

Several factors can contribute to the tarnishing of the sterling silver base in gold over silver jewelry:

  1. Exposure to Air and Moisture: Leaving gold vermeil jewelry exposed to air and moisture for extended periods can accelerate tarnishing. Therefore, it's essential to store your jewelry in a dry and airtight container or pouch when not in use.
  2. Skin Acidity: The acidity of an individual's skin can also impact how quickly their gold vermeil jewelry tarnishes. Those with more acidic skin may experience tarnishing at a faster rate than those with less acidic skin.
  3. Chemicals and Substances: Exposure to chemicals and substances such as perfumes, lotions, household cleaners, and hairspray can also contribute to tarnishing. It's advisable to avoid direct contact between your gold vermeil jewelry and such products.
  4. Friction and Abrasion: Regular wear and friction with clothing or other surfaces can contribute to the wear of the gold layer and potentially expose the sterling silver base to tarnishing.

Caring for Gold Over Silver Jewelry:

Proper care is essential to maintain the appearance and shine of your gold over silver jewelry:

  1. Keep Dry and Clean: Avoid wearing gold vermeil jewelry when swimming, bathing, or engaging in activities that may expose it to moisture. After wearing, gently wipe your jewelry with a soft, dry cloth to remove any oils or residues.
  2. Avoid Chemical Exposure: Take off your gold over silver jewelry before using lotions, perfumes, or household cleaners to minimize potential chemical reactions.
  3. Store Properly: Store your gold vermeil jewelry in a dry, airtight container or pouch when not in use. This helps reduce exposure to air and moisture, which can slow down tarnishing.
  4. Limit Exposure to Skin Acids: Consider rotating your gold over silver jewelry pieces to allow your skin to rest and reduce prolonged exposure to skin acids.
  5. Professional Cleaning: Periodically have your gold vermeil jewelry professionally cleaned and inspected by a jeweler to maintain its brilliance.


Gold over silver jewelry, or gold vermeil, offers an attractive combination of gold's elegance and silver's affordability and durability. While the gold layer in gold vermeil jewelry may tarnish, the sterling silver base beneath it is more likely to tarnish over time. Proper care and maintenance, such as keeping the jewelry dry, avoiding chemical exposure, and storing it properly, can help prolong the appearance and beauty of your gold over silver pieces. By following these care tips, you can enjoy the radiance of your gold vermeil jewelry for years to come.