So, what is gold vermeil? This is one of the most recurrent questions we get asked here at Vandômian and usually it leads to a numerous list of questions around this subject.
Most people are familiar with gold-plated jewelry or solid gold jewelry but where does gold vermeil fit? Let’s dig deep into the topic and answer these and more questions.
Plain and simple gold vermeil is the combination of a sterling silver base (92.5% pure) coated with a layer of gold with minimum thickness eqivalent to 2.5 micron of pure gold and a minimum purity of 10 karat.
For instance, jewelry that uses a sterling silver base with a coat of 18-karat gold needs a minimum thickness of 1.9 micron. Alternatively, jewelry with a coat of 12-karat gold requires a 5 micron-thick coat to be considered gold vermeil.
Any combination of thickness and purity that falls above the mentioned thresholds is also considered gold vermeil.
Since it uses sterling silver and gold it is a great option for people that have allergies to other base metals, like nickel.
Gold vermeil jewelry uses the same plating technique as gold-plated pieces, electrolysis. In electrolysis, the silver base is submerged into a solution to attract ions of gold at a certain temperature and voltage. Thickness of the gold coat is determined by the amount of time the jewelry piece stays submerged.
Gold-plated jewelry uses a base metal like sterling silver or brass, among others, coated with a layer of gold. Jewelry that has a sterling silver base and a coat of gold thinner than 2.5 micron cannot be referred to as gold vermeil but rather gold-plated.
Solid gold jewelry refers to jewelry made with gold alloys. 100% pure gold is 24-karat gold. 100% pure gold is not used in jewelry because it is very fragile and it can get deformed with little pressure. Solid gold jewelry is usually made of 18-karat, 14-karat, 12-karat or 10-karat gold. Jewelry below 10-karat gold cannot be called solid gold jewelry.
Gold vermeil lies in between gold-plated and solid gold jewelry.
Gold vermeil is a fantastic option for its durability and it can last many years if properly taken care of. That is: taking it off when showering, applying perfume or make up or touching hot water or harsh chemicals.
The best way to clean it requires 3 things that we all have at home: mild hand soap, slightly warm water and a soft cloth to dry it. Easy peasy! Be careful to avoid using any chemicals or harsh detergents.
The word vermeil comes from the French language and should be pronounced ver-may.
Charlotte Chesnais vastly uses gold vermeil to give life to her stunning jewelry designs. Gold vermeil jewelry from Charlotte Chesnais always uses a mix of 18-karat gold and a thickness of 5 micron. Well within the boundaries of what gold vermeil is.