Jewelry often embodies a man’s or woman’s many moments lived. You want to buy a signature piece that lasts a lifetime at a pocket-friendly price.
Gold jewelry adds class and elegance to any outfit and occasion. If you are in the market for gold jewelry or ornament, you might have come across terms such as vermeil, gold plated and gold filled.
So, is there a difference between the three?
In the Post
- Gold Vermeil Vs Gold Plated Vs Gold Filled Revealed
- Solid Gold
- Solid Gold vs. Gold Filled Jewelry
- Vermeil vs Gold Plated vs Gold Filled: Differences
- Understanding Gold Purity (Does Higher Karat Translate To Higher Gold Quality?)
- How To Protect Yourself From Buying Fake Gold Products
Gold Vermeil Vs Gold Plated Vs Gold Filled Revealed
The process of creating gold plated pieces entails bonding a thin gold layer over cheaper base materials like brass or copper.
With these pieces, gold content is less than 1%. Their main drawback is that the thin gold layer wears off quickly. On top of that, they might turn your skin green with the brass or copper base metal.
Because of the expensive nature of gold jewelry, goldsmiths came up with an affordable option in gold plated jewelry. With it, you are able to enjoy the outward appearance of gold at a pocket-friendly price. Telling the difference between the two is almost impossible.
Note: Gold plated jewelry is the cheapest option. However, it does not last long.
- Resembles real gold
- Great for decoration
- Easy to make (more design possibilities)
- Strong and durable
- Tarnishes over time
- Not good in the water
- Plating can chip or scratch with time
- Lower value due to minimal gold content
Is buying gold plated jewelry worth it?
Honestly speaking, gold plated jewelry is not worth much. The main reason for this is because of the thin layer or coating of gold. Gold plated jewelry only has a few gold microns in its plating.
While it might be cheap, gold plated might have some value to some people.
How do I clean gold plated jewelry?
Wondering how to take care of your gold plated jewelry in such a way that it does not wear, chip, or tarnish? Having a care regime that includes cleaning for your jewelry is important. It is crucial to making sure that it lasts longer. By following these tips, you’ll be able to maintain the luster and brightness of the gold plating:
- Mix a few cups of warm water with several drops of dishwashing detergent. Put your jewelry in the soapy solution. Allow it to sit for a few minutes. Find a place to let it dry off.
Note: You should avoid using antibacterial soaps as they might contain components that make your jewelry tarnish more easily.
- Once it has dried, buff it with a soft microfiber cloth. Avoid using too much elbow grease as it can flake off the gold plate.
- Always put your jewelry inside a plastic bag when you aren’t wearing them. Ensure you have squeezed all the air inside out. Seal it tight. By doing that, you will prevent your jewelry from scratches and ensure it remains safe and dry. Lack of oxygen prevents the base metals from tarnishing.
Note: Never put multiple items inside one bag as they can brush up against each other causing them to flake or scratch.
- Avoid placing your gold items in a humid environment such as in the bathroom.
- When going for a swim in a chlorine or salt pool, always remember to remove your jewelry. The same is true when you are stepping out for activities that make you sweat a lot such as running or work out.
- Apply makeup, lotion, and perfume first before putting on your jewelry. Substances such as chlorine, perfume, nail polish remover, nail polish and oil react with your precious item as well as the base metal making it tarnish.
Also read: How to Clean White Gold? (Steps with Hints)
Almost similar to gold plating, gold vermeil jewelry is simply sterling silver plated with a thin gold layer. Normally marked as 925 for silver, the gold coating features a 2.5 microns thickness.
Since sterling silver tends to be less costly than solid gold, gold vermeil is a more affordable option than gold plated. Both of them wear off quickly.
In the United States, for an item to be legally termed ‘’vermeil’’, it must feature a gold thickness of 2.5 microns. On top of that, its coating needs to be more than a sterling silver base.
In real vermeil, a gold plated layer contains various layers of gold fineness or purity. For instance, the fineness can be between 10K and 24K. A 10k vermeil piece is lighter and features a more subtle yellow tone. A 24K vermeil piece, on the other hand, has a deep and intense yellow color.
Note: Gold vermeil is also a good option if you are on a budget. Nevertheless, it wears off quickly.
- Affordable price slightly higher than gold plated
- Eventually tarnishes and rubs off
The million-dollar question that most people grapple with is how to identify whether an item is vermeil. To know it, you must find out the base metal, gold quality and gold thickness of the item.
A quicker way is by searching for the ‘’925’ stamp on the item. If it is available, it simply means that the base metal is 92.5 per cent silver. Therefore, when you notice that your gold piece has that marking on the outside, you can rest assured that it is indeed a vermeil piece.
Differences between 10K, 14K, 18K, and 24K Gold
What Does The “925” Mark On Gold Jewelry Mean?
The process of creating gold filled jewelry is by bonding a thick gold layer with another metal, normally copper or brass. Costlier gold filled jewelry features sterling silver as the base metal. If sterling silver is the base, then it is hypoallergenic. Chances are high that it will not aggravate skin conditions.
Legally, in the United States, gold content needs to be not less than 5% of the overall weight. Often, gold filled jewelry is marked 1/20 or 1/20 14KT GF. Although its gold layer is thicker compared to the other two, this type of jewelry still tarnishes but after a long time.
High-karat gold-filled jewelry lasts up to 30 years, which means it might be the most economical choice for the long term.
Note: Gold filled jewelry is a great choice if you aren’t stuck for cash and need long-lasting pieces.
- Slightly expensive than gold plated
- Takes time to tarnish or rub off but needs care
- Not as valuable compared to solid gold
- Higher gold content – Because it contains a higher gold content compared to other solid gold alternatives, gold filled jewelry is great at retaining value even after purchase.
- Hypoallergenic – As we indicated earlier, gold-filled jewelry that has sterling silver as the base is hypoallergenic which makes it safe to put on even if you have sensitive skin.
- Highly durable – Do you know that gold filled items can last up to 30 years provided you maintain them well? Even the lower-quality ones have a longer lifespan than gold plate items.
- Flaking – With this gold jewelry, flaking is inevitable. Despite its thick coat, it will wear away over time. Although they can last a decade, at some point, their coat will start to chip.
- Cost – In terms of cost, gold filled jewelry is less costly compared to real gold. Nonetheless, it costs more compared to other real gold jewelry alternatives.
The last type of gold is known as solid gold. It is the most expensive yet highest in quality as well as gold content. Its high price is informed by the fact that it does not fade or tarnish with repeated wear.
- Increases in value
- Low maintenance
- Doesn’t tarnish
- The most expensive option
Solid Gold vs. Gold Filled Jewelry
By now you already know that real gold jewelry is costlier than gold filled jewelry. Although that is the case, caring for the latter is easier than the former. In addition to that, it is also more widely available.
The downside of gold filled jewelry when compared to solid gold is the fact that it is not as valuable and durable. While its nearly 30-year lifespan is impressive, it pales when you compare it to pure gold.
When you care for gold filled jewelry as necessary as it should be, it can last indefinitely. That explains why archaeologists continue to unearth the intact gold artifacts from ancient societies.
Vermeil vs Gold Plated vs Gold Filled: Differences
The Base Metal and Manufacturing Process
One of the best attributes about hold vermeil is that it is more hypoallergenic because of its sterling silver layer.
Gold plated jewelry erodes quickly due to its minimal gold-plated layer. Because of that, it leaves your skin exposed to the base metal.
The main difference between gold filled and gold vermeil is the underlying manufacturing process. While the former is heat bonding and pressure process, the latter is an electroplating process.
Think of it this way – gold vermeil is basically a sterling silver base featuring a gold ‘painted’ on. In some cases, it can be ‘flash dipped’ based on the thickness level of the gold plating. Gold filled, on the other hand, is normally sterling silver or brass base with a gold ‘melted on.’
Essentially, it goes through a big oven for a longer period with the gold being heat and pressure-bonded to the base layer.
Regarding thickness, it refers to the gold’s top layer thickness. For instance, in the case of gold vermeil, it is the thickness of the gold layer electroplated on top while in the case of gold filled, it is the thickness of gold that gets pressure and heat bonded on top.
In all these types of gold, thickness matters as it determines the long life or longevity of wear.
Under normal wear and tear, gold filled jewelry does not ‘budge’ easily.
Under normal wear and tear stress like sweat, skin and water contact, gold vermeil jewelry increases as vermeil is not water-resistant.
Understanding Gold Purity (Does Higher Karat Translate To Higher Gold Quality?)
Does purer gold mean better? Purer gold means more pure, more expensive and worth more money. With gold, the phrase ‘less is more’ certainly applies. The less pure gold is, the more alloy metals constitute it.
Gold that is bonded or blended with more alloys tends to be stronger. This might be preferable particularly for jewelry because 24k gold tends to be very soft but not as long-lasting. The lower the karats inside a piece of jewelry, the stronger it will be.
- The lower the number of karats, the stronger jewelry is. Higher karat gold is softer.
- Higher karat gold is more resistant to tarnishing. Lower karat gold is not resistant to tarnish.
- Because it is purer, higher karat gold is more valuable. Monetarily, lower karat gold is not worth that much.
- Higher karat gold is more yellow
Related: Differences between Platinum, White Gold, Yellow Gold and Rose Gold
How To Protect Yourself From Buying Fake Gold Products
Unfortunately, counterfeit products exist in almost every industry. Precious metals are no exception.
The good thing is that there are many safeguards that you can employ to protect yourself from fraudsters. One effective way of verifying the authenticity of gold products is by purchasing gold coins and bars strictly from the London Bullion Market (LBMA) approved refineries, mints and dealers.
An international organization, LBMA sets standards for precious metals that trade all over the world. The organization boasts more than 150 members from 30 nations, among which are the largest financial institutions and banks.
Some of the quick red flags to help you identify fake gold products include:
- Seam along the rim
- Mottled or grainy appearance
- Too large
- Too light
- Imperfect lettering or imprint
- Sold under spot price
Do you want to do right by the environment but do not have the cash to purchase premium gold jewelry? Reclaimed brass is an affordable alternative.
Of great importance to note is that the brass industry depends on recycling meaning there is no new mining of materials which damage the earth. While brass does not boast similar value as gold, it features the same color and shine.
On top of that, brass does not tarnish but if you polish it occasionally, it lasts a long time. Plenty of sustainable and ethical jewelry brands that use reclaimed brass are available.
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