Vermeil vs Gold Fill


In this article, we will discuss vermeil and gold-filled jewelry. You may have noticed vermeil and gold-filled pieces advertised as a cost-effective alternative to solid gold jewelry for those who have sensitivities to certain metals or just don't want the expense – but what exactly does vermeil mean? And how is vermeil jewelry different from gold-filled?


First, What is Vermeil?

First of all, let's briefly discuss what vermeil is. Vermeil (pronunciation: "vermay") is French for "gold overlay", and vermeil jewelry is essentially sterling silver with a thick layer of solid 10K gold or higher on the surface. This type of jewelry is known for its vermeil luster, which has a vibrant, almost mirrorlike appearance.

Yes, vermeil uses a real gold layer, but it is not the same as solid gold jewelry.


So, What is Gold-Filled Jewelry? How does gold vermeil compare to gold filled?

The most significant distinction between gold vermeil and gold filled is the manufacturing process. Gold vermeil is an electroplating technique, whereas gold filled is a pressure and heat joining method.

Think of it this way: gold vermeil is a sterling silver base with the gold "painted" on, or in some cases, "flash dipped," depending on the level of thickness of the gold overlay. On the other hand, gold-filled is generally brass or sterling silver with the gold "melted" on, that is, subjected to substantial heat and pressure for a lengthy amount of time.


Does The Thickness Of Gold Make A Difference?

When we speak of the thickness of gold, we're referring to the electroplated top layer's thickness - in the case of gold vermeil, for example. In the case of gold-filled, the layer of gold bonds to the top via heat and pressure.

The thickness of the material is important in both cases since it influences how long the jewelry will last. However, in a vermeil setting, since they are not water-resistant, the risk of wear increases with everyday use and contact with water, skin and sweat. Gold-filled jewelry does not display as much physical change when subjected to daily wear and tear strain.

The thickness of gold vermeil generally ranges from less than 0.1 micron to 3+ micron depending on the amount and type of vermeil gold. To be certified as gold-filled, the pressure-bonded gold content in a piece must equal or exceed 1/20 of the mass of the jewelry item.

To summarize, if the same piece of jewelry is made in gold filled and gold vermeil, and they both feature the identical thickness of gold, then the more durable manufacturing process will cause gold filled to endure longer.


What Type Of Gold jewelry Should You Buy?

It's entirely up to you! Budget will be the determining factor, given that there are benefits and drawbacks to both. Gold fill is somewhat more expensive due to the complicated and time-consuming heat & pressure bonding process, but it is oftentimes more durable than gold vermeil. Gold vermeil, on the other hand, is a superior alternative to gold-plated if you're sensitive to metals in gold-plated jewelry.

If you wear jewelry and don't take it off in the shower, etc., gold fill is a superior choice, while if you do take it off in the water, gold vermeil will suffice provided regular jewelry care. Both vermeil and gold fill are excellent choices, but vermeil is particularly popular with those who prefer to wear sterling silver, as vermeil is a less expensive option for those wishing to "upgrade" their look without breaking the bank.


Jewelry Care


Jewelry care for gold filled and vermeil jewelry are practically the same. Gold filled and vermeil are best cared for by removing it before swimming, showering or washing your hands. Store them away from chemicals such as hairspray, lotions and perfume – especially chlorine – as these can affect the plated color over time. Use a good quality polishing cloth to wipe down each piece after wear and use a soft toothbrush to clean any crevices.

Also, you can use a mild dishwashing liquid diluted with water on a damp cloth to clean gold-filled and vermeil items. You always want to avoid abrasive cleaners that will scratch the smooth gold layer.

If you find that your gold-filled or vermeil jewelry no longer has the same luster it once had, get it re-plated by a reputable jeweler.


Final Thoughts


In conclusion, vermeil vs gold filled is really a matter of preference. Whatever your choice, vermeil or gold-filled jewelry will last you a very long time - they are both excellent quality materials guaranteed to maintain their beauty and shine for the long term.







Light Daily Wear


Everyday Wear




Created Through Heat & Pressure


925 Silver


Brass, Sterling Silver, Copper, Nickel, etc.






At Least 1/20 Of Weight


0.05% Of Weight


Durable, But May Eventually Need Replating

More Durable, But Flaking is Inevitable








Slightly More Expensive