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What is Vermeil?

Posted by Stacey Hodkinson on

Everyone is talking about gold vermeil right now as the latest trend in gold jewellery. But what exactly is it? What does it mean and how is it different from other types of jewellery? Let’s find out. 

Tell me about gold vermeil

Gold vermeil is essentially a thick layer of gold coating on top of a silver base metal, usually sterling silver, according to jewellery blog ShinyRefinery. You might also hear vermeil referred to as silver gilt as the two terms are interchangeable. At Aquila Jewellery, our gold items are made with a 9ct vermeil gold, covering a 925 sterling silver base with a 2 Micron gold thickness. As a reference point, well known contemporary jewellery brand Missoma also uses 2 Microns for their vermeil jewellery.

Are gold plated and gold vermeil the same thing?

No. But they are often mistaken to be! There are actually three main differences that we’ll cover below.

  • The first difference is the thickness of the layer of gold. Ethical London jewellery brand MoodGood goes into detail about this in their article ‘How To Recognise Good Quality Jewellery’ explaining how gold plated jewellery can be as little as 0.5 Microns thick. With such a thin coating, the gold plated layer can easily fade, wearing off in a matter of weeks and showing the base metal below. In comparison, gold vermeil has a much thicker gold layer. Our Aquila thickness is 2 Microns, meaning our gold vermeil coating is 4x thicker than its gold plated counterparts. The result? You can enjoy your Aquila handmade jewellery for longer! Make sure to follow our care tips at the end of this article to keep your jewellery looking as fresh as the day you bought it.
  • The second difference is the base or core metal. The base metal used for gold plated jewellery can be anything from nickel to stainless steel; occasionally it is silver. But gold vermeil is always made with sterling silver as the base metal, as this is one of the classification standards for vermeil. If you want to learn more about sterling silver and what the 925 sterling silver stamp means, check out our post about it here
  • The final difference is how they are made. Gold plated jewellery is made via a process called flash plating where the metal jewellery is placed into an electroplating solution containing gold. Next, a positive electrical charge is applied on the jewellery for a little time in order to gain the desired gold plated thickness, as stated in ‘Gold vermeil vs Gold plated: What’s the Difference?’ by sustainable jewellery brand MonicaVader.

In contrast, gold vermeil jewellery is made by micron plating which involves the gold layer being applied using gold powder or leaf, with the microns measured too.



Is gold vermeil expensive?

It depends. Gold vermeil jewellery isn’t expensive compared to solid gold jewellery but it can be more expensive than gold plated jewellery because of the sterling silver base metal. To make it more confusing, gold plated jewellery sometimes has silver as the base metal too, resulting in a higher price. It’s worth noting too that both the karat and thickness of the gold layer have an effect on the price of gold plating and gold vermeil, so it really depends on the specifics of the individual jewellery piece.


Why Aquila uses vermeil

We use gold vermeil for a number of reasons. 

  • Firstly, it is hypoallergenic just like our entire jewellery collection, including our 925 sterling silver collection. Gold plated jewellery includes nickel in the process which can cause allergic reactions on your skin. 
  • Secondly, it doesn’t tarnish easily, which means it is the perfect choice for everyday wear. 
  • Thirdly, it’s great quality. 
  • Oh, and last but not least we love the glow of gold vermeil - just look at our Tanna Chunky Gold Irregular Hoops to see that gorgeous golden gleam.

How to care for gold vermeil

Cleaning and caring for your gold vermeil pieces is the same as cleaning and caring for your sterling silver pieces. As we always say, do not wear your jewellery pieces in the sea, bath, shower or swimming pool. Remove them for exercise and when you go to bed. Take them off if you are going to be using any creams and perfumes. Remember to put your jewellery on last when you are getting ready and lastly, make sure your hand sanitiser is dry before you wear your rings. 

When it comes to cleaning your gold vermeil pieces, it’s very easy. Just apply a gentle polishing cloth on your pieces taking care to rub in one direction only. Don’t be tempted to use cleaning liquids though. Store your jewellery in a dry place, inside a soft fabric bag or pouch (your Aquila organic cotton bag or pouch are perfect for this). Ideally store your pieces separately so there is no chance of them rubbing on each other.

A vermeil convert?

We hope that we have answered any questions you have about gold vermeil and that you are sold on what a wonderful alternative it is to other gold jewellery types. If you fancy dipping into the gold vermeil trend then why not check out our new gold items for inspiration!

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