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 gold vermeil is still quite unknown.
So where does gold vermeil fit with regards to other types of jewelry? Is it durable? Which designers make gold vermeil jewelry? How do we clean it? 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% pureness) coated with a layer of gold with minimum thickness equivalent to 2.5 micron of pure gold and a minimum purity of 10 karat.
The required thickness of the gold layer will vary depending on the pureness of gold. For instance, jewelry that uses a sterling silver base with a coat of 18-karat gold needs a minimum thickness of 1.9 micron to be considered gold vermeil. 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.
Gold vermeil can be done with yellow, rose, white and black gold coating.
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, named electrolysis. In electrolysis, the silver base is submerged into a solution made 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. The longer a jewelry piece stays in the solution, the thicker it will be the gold layer.
Gold-plated jewelry uses a base metal, typically sterling silver, bronze or brass, coated with a layer of gold. Jewelry that has a sterling silver base and a coat of 10-karat gold thinner than 2.5 micron cannot be referred to as gold vermeil but rather gold-plated. Gold-plating is highly used in fashion jewelry. This technique allows designers to create captivating statement pieces with a gold-tone finish that would otherwise be costly and heavy were they only made of solid gold. Gold-plated jewelry can come in white, gold, black and pink tone finish.
Solid gold jewelry refers to jewelry made with gold alloys. 100% pure gold has 24 karats. 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. In the case of 18-karat solid gold jewelry, the alloy contains 75% of pure gold, 15% of copper and 10% of fine silver. Alternatively, to create a 14-karat rose gold jewelry piece, we would require an allow containing 58% of pure gold, 32% of copper and 10% of fine silver.
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.