VERMEIL VS PLATED VS FILLED
Vermeil, gold plated, and gold filled are phrases that some jewelry lovers mistakenly believe to be interchangeable, but these jewelry categories actually differ in very significant ways.
1. VERMEIL JEWELRY
The piece must adhere to certain requirements in order to be recognized as genuine vermeil jewelry in the US. For example, the piece's gold must be at least 2.5 microns thick and 10k or greater.
2. GOLD-PLATED JEWELRY
A brass, copper, or inexpensive metal is electroplated with a layer of gold to create gold-plated jewelry. Gold-plated jewelry is typically less expensive than vermeil and doesn't need to be a certain minimum carat weight or thickness. However, if a gold-plated item has a high gold karat weight (18 or 20k) and a thick covering of gold, it may be worth more than a vermeil piece. It's also crucial to remember that the carat weight of gold affects the hue of the metal. For example, a 14k piece will be more yellow than a 10k piece, which is duller because it contains less pure gold.
3. GOLD FILLED JEWELRY
Gold-filled jewelry has a significantly thicker covering of gold over the base metal than vermeil, and gold-plated jewelry, often up to 100% thicker. This thick layer significantly improves the jewelry's long-term resistance to wear and tear. Even though the base metal is typically brass or another less precious material, it would be difficult to distinguish between a piece of "genuine" gold and one that is gold-filled.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOLD PLATED AND VERMEIL
Given that vermeil jewelry is made of two precious metals (gold and silver), it is typically regarded as being more akin to fine jewelry and is classified as "demi-fine." The price and value of the item will often increase with the karat weight and thickness of the gold layer. However, if a vermeil ring or necklace only has the barest amount of gold, it will probably start to tarnish quickly after purchase. A weakly plated vermeil piece will, at the very least, need replating occasionally.
In essence, gold-plated jewelry is identical to vermeil jewelry; however, the base metal used in gold plating is sometimes not silver (In contrast, brass is quite common). Unlike vermeil, gold-plated jewelry has no specific regulations; a manufacturer may use any type of gold, and the electroplated layer may be any thickness.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VERMEIL AND GOLD FILLED
Gold-filled jewelry is made through bonding with heat rather than electroplating (used in jewelry). With gold-filled jewelry, the base metal inside is shielded against corrosion and discoloration by two or three thick layers of gold. Authentic gold-filled jewelry should have a minimum of 5% gold weight, so double-check to make sure that your jewelry's outer gold layer is at least this thick.
When trying to choose between vermeil and gold filled, you'll want to keep in mind that vermeil pieces use an electroplating process, and the minimum required gold in vermeil is much lower than in filled jewelry.
Before purchasing, always verify the gold's karat weight, the layer's thickness, and the base metal material. Vermeil jewelry can tarnish fast in some cases; however, thickly-plated vermeil jewelry may last as long as gold-filled jewelry.
GOLD PLATING AND ALLERGIES
Vermeil or gold-filled jewelry is the greatest option if you have allergies to lower-base metals like brass, copper, or nickel. In some cases, the gold coating on plated jewelry is too thin to cover the base metal completely, and if any of the gold starts to tarnish, you risk developing an allergic response.
Now that you know the difference between vermeil, gold-plated, and gold-filled jewelry, you can make a more informed decision when shopping for your next piece. Keep in mind that each type of jewelry has its own benefits and drawbacks, so choose the option that best fits your needs.