If you've been on the jewelry hunt lately (especially while trawling through those chic online boutiques or perusing at a luxe storefront), chances are, you've come across terms like "gold vermeil," "14k vermeil", or "18k vermeil". Sound familiar? Well, darling, you're on the cusp of diving into one of the fashion world's best-kept secrets. Bonheur is here to dish out all the glittering deets on gold vermeil, so you'll understand just why your jewelry box might be begging for a piece... or two!

Gold vermeil (pronounced vur-may) isn't just your average gold; it's like the chic, sophisticated cousin of the gold family that's been vacationing in the south of France. Here's why it should be on your radar:

What is Vermeil?

Well, in the sparkling universe of bling, gold vermeil isn't just any gold-plated piece. To sport the coveted "vermeil" title (especially in the U.S.), a piece needs to be the crème de la crème of gold-plated jewelry. Let's spill the luxe details:

  • Heart of Silver: At its core, vermeil jewelry boasts sterling silver – that posh alloy we adore, made up of a generous 92.5% pure silver blended with 7.5% of other materials. 
  • Golden Glow: That shimmering gold layer? It's not playing games. We're talking at least 10k gold. That translates to a chic and lush 41.7% gold content. 
  • Thickness Matters: The golden embrace on vermeil isn't a mere whisper; it's a statement. We're talking about a lavish layer that's a minimum of 2.5 microns thick. For a little perspective, a micron is 1/1000th of a millimeter. 

Is Vermeil Real Gold?

Yes, vermeil is real gold! However, it's not solid through and through. Gold vermeil refers to a piece of jewelry that has a thick layer of genuine gold plated over a sterling silver base. To be classified as vermeil, the gold layer needs to be at least 10k and 2.5 microns thick. So, while it isn't solid gold, the outer layer is indeed real gold, making it more valuable and durable than many standard gold-plated pieces.

Does Vermeil Tarnish? 

Gold vermeil itself is resistant to tarnishing due to its real gold layer. However, since the core of gold vermeil jewelry is sterling silver, it can eventually tarnish if the gold layer wears off or becomes thin in certain areas, exposing the silver beneath.

Sterling silver tarnishes when exposed to oxygen and sulfur in the air, leading to discoloration. The real gold layer in vermeil pieces acts as a barrier to these elements, but as mentioned, if that barrier is compromised, tarnishing can occur.

To prolong the life of gold vermeil jewelry and prevent tarnishing:

  1. Avoid exposing it to harsh chemicals, lotions, and perfumes.
  2. Store it in a dry, cool place, preferably in a zip-lock bag or a lined jewelry box.
  3. Gently clean it periodically with a soft cloth to maintain its shine.

It's also worth noting that the quality of the vermeil — including the thickness of the gold layer and the craftsmanship — will influence how quickly it might wear down or tarnish. Higher-quality vermeil pieces with thicker gold layers will generally last longer without tarnishing.

How Strong is Vermeil?

When discussing the "strength" of vermeil, it's important to differentiate between the durability of the gold layer and the strength of the base metal (sterling silver). Here's a breakdown:

1) Gold Layer:

    • The gold layer in vermeil is not especially "strong" on its own since it's a thin layer of gold applied to a base metal. Its strength in resisting wear and tarnish is primarily determined by its thickness and purity. The thicker the layer, the longer it will resist wear.
    • Gold, in general, is a soft metal. So, even though vermeil jewelry has real gold on the exterior, this layer can be prone to scratches and abrasions if not treated gently.

2) Sterling Silver Base:

    • Sterling silver, which is the base metal in vermeil, is relatively strong and durable for jewelry-making purposes. It's an alloy consisting of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals (usually copper) to add strength since pure silver is quite soft.
    • This base provides the actual structural strength to the jewelry piece. So, in terms of overall durability and resistance to bending or breaking, vermeil jewelry benefits from the sturdiness of its sterling silver core.

How Long Does Vermeil Last?

The longevity of gold vermeil jewelry depends on several factors, including the thickness of the gold layer, the quality of craftsmanship, and how the piece is cared for. Here's a general breakdown:

  1. Thickness: The minimum thickness for gold in vermeil is 2.5 microns, but some high-quality pieces may have an even thicker layer. Naturally, the thicker the layer, the longer it will last.
  2. Wear and Care: If worn daily, exposed to chemicals like perfumes and lotions, or not stored properly, even high-quality vermeil can start showing signs of wear within a year or so. However, with occasional wear and proper care (like cleaning it gently and storing it in a dry place), it can last several years or even decades.
  3. Craftsmanship: The quality of the craftsmanship plays a role. Well-made pieces where the gold layer is evenly applied will last longer than poorly made counterparts.
  4. Environmental Factors: If you live in a region with high humidity or your skin is particularly acidic, it might cause the gold layer to wear away faster.

Does Vermeil Fade?

Yes, over time, vermeil can fade. The gold layer in vermeil jewelry, though thicker than in standard gold-plated pieces, is still relatively thin compared to solid gold. With regular wear and exposure to elements like sweat, oils, chemicals, and abrasion, this layer can wear away, causing the sterling silver beneath to become visible. The rate at which vermeil fades will depend on various factors, including the thickness of the gold layer, the quality of the plating process, how often the jewelry is worn, and how it's cared for. Proper care and gentle handling can significantly prolong the appearance and luster of vermeil jewelry.

Does Vermeil Turn Skin Green?

Gold vermeil, in most cases, does not turn skin green. The green discoloration some jewelry causes is usually the result of metals like copper or nickel reacting with the acids in your skin. Since gold vermeil consists of a sterling silver base coated with a thick layer of gold and both of these metals are generally non-reactive with skin, the risk of discoloration is low.

However, if the gold layer wears thin over time and the sterling silver base gets exposed, there's a slight possibility for tarnishing or a reaction, especially if a person has an unusual sensitivity. But even then, sterling silver is much less likely to cause a reaction compared to other base metals.

Is Vermeil Hypoallergenic?

Yes, gold vermeil is typically considered hypoallergenic. Gold vermeil jewelry is made using a sterling silver base coated with a thick layer of gold. Both gold and sterling silver are metals that are generally well-tolerated by most people and do not commonly cause allergic reactions.

Sterling silver is an alloy composed of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper. While pure silver and gold are hypoallergenic, the addition of copper in sterling silver can, in rare cases, lead to reactions in very sensitive individuals. However, since the outer layer of vermeil jewelry is gold, this reduces the likelihood of the base metal coming into direct contact with the skin.

How to Clean Vermeil:

Cleaning gold vermeil requires a gentle touch to ensure its longevity. Since vermeil consists of a layer of gold over sterling silver, it's crucial not to be too abrasive, which could wear away the gold layer. Here's how you can safely clean vermeil jewelry:

Warm Soapy Water:

    • Fill a bowl with lukewarm water and add a few drops of mild dish soap. Avoid detergents with harsh chemicals.
    • Place your vermeil jewelry in the soapy water and let it sit for a few minutes.
    • Gently agitate the water with your fingers and lightly rub the jewelry pieces to clean.
    • Remove the jewelry from the soapy water.


    • Use a separate bowl of clean lukewarm water to rinse off the jewelry, ensuring all soap is removed.


    • Carefully pat the jewelry dry with a soft lint-free cloth.
    • Lay the pieces flat on a clean towel and allow them to air dry completely before storing.


    • Once clean, store your vermeil pieces in a jewelry box or airtight bag to protect them from air and moisture, which can speed up tarnishing.


  • Avoid using abrasive materials, like brushes or scouring pads, as they can scratch the gold layer.
  • Steer clear of chemical cleaners or ultrasonic cleaners, which can be too harsh for vermeil.
  • After wearing, gently wipe your vermeil jewelry with a soft cloth to remove oils and sweat.
  • Regularly cleaning and properly storing your vermeil jewelry will help maintain its shine and prolong its life.

Remember, with vermeil, a gentle touch is always best!

Is Vermeil Better Than Plated?

Yes, in terms of quality and durability, vermeil is generally considered better than standard gold-plated jewelry. Here's why:

1) Base Metal:

    • Vermeil: The base metal is always sterling silver, which is a higher-quality metal known for its shine and durability.
    • Gold-Plated: The base can be any metal, often cheaper metals like brass, copper, or nickel. These metals can sometimes cause allergic reactions or tarnish over time.

2) The Thickness of Gold:

    • Vermeil: By legal standards in many countries, for a piece to be considered vermeil, the gold layer must be at least 2.5 microns thick. This substantial layer means it's less likely to wear off quickly.
    • Gold-Plated: The gold layer can be much thinner, sometimes only 0.5 microns or even less. This means it can wear off more quickly, especially with regular wear.

3) Quality and Longevity:

    • Vermeil: Given the thicker gold layer and quality base metal, vermeil jewelry is often more durable and can maintain its appearance for a longer period, especially with proper care.
    • Gold-Plated: With a thinner layer of gold over a base that may not be as resistant to tarnish, gold-plated items might not hold up as well over time.

4) Price:

    • Vermeil: Due to the quality of materials and the thicker layer of gold, vermeil jewelry tends to be more expensive than gold-plated pieces.
    • Gold-Plated: Generally more affordable because of the potentially cheaper base metal and thinner gold layer.

5) Allergenic Properties:

    • Vermeil: The combination of gold and sterling silver typically makes vermeil hypoallergenic, making it a good choice for those with sensitive skin.
    • Gold-Plated: Depending on the base metal (like nickel), some gold-plated jewelry might cause allergic reactions in certain individuals.

While both vermeil and gold-plated jewelry have their place in the market, vermeil is generally considered a higher-quality and more durable option. However, individual experiences may vary based on specific product quality and care practices.

Can Vermeil Get Wet?

While vermeil jewelry can get wet without immediately damaging, it's advisable to avoid prolonged exposure to moisture. Water, especially chlorinated or saltwater, can accelerate the wear of the gold layer and potentially tarnish the sterling silver beneath. Additionally, some soaps, lotions, and other liquids can leave residues on the jewelry or even corrode the gold layer. To ensure the longevity of your vermeil pieces, it's best to remove them before swimming, showering, or engaging in activities that involve significant water exposure. If your vermeil jewelry does get wet, gently pat it dry with a soft cloth as soon as possible.

Can You Shower With Vermeil?

It's not recommended to shower with vermeil jewelry. The chemicals and minerals commonly found in tap water, combined with soaps, shampoos, and conditioners, can accelerate the wear of the gold layer on vermeil jewelry. Over time, consistent exposure to these elements can tarnish the sterling silver beneath the gold layer. To maintain the beauty and longevity of your vermeil pieces, it's best to remove them before showering and to dry them promptly if they do get wet.

Is Vermeil Good?

Gold vermeil is a popular choice in jewelry due to its blend of quality and affordability. Using sterling silver as its base and coated with a thick layer of real gold, vermeil offers the lustrous appearance of pure gold without the hefty price tag. Compared to standard gold-plated items, which might use cheaper base metals and thinner gold coatings, vermeil stands out for its durability, hypoallergenic properties, and overall value.