What is Gold Vermeil? And Why You Should Care!
Image by Califindings via Etsy - 14k vermeil chain bracelet dainty paperclip faceted 7.5 inches

What is gold vermeil? Welcome to the magical world of gold vermeil.  It’s by far our favorite vermeil.  OK, it’s the only vermeil, so maybe gold is the operative word.  Or is it silver?

Are you intrigued?  What is this mystery material, anyway?

Gold Vermeil is gold-plated jewelry made of sterling silver with gold plating.  You can spot it because it will have a stamp—or hallmark—of 925 on it.  This number, 925, can also be read 92.5, meaning 92.5%.  This is good news to the jewelry buyer, because it means that the main metal, the silver, is 92.5% pure silver and just 7.5% alloys. 

golden necklace of test 925 on a black background close up

Image by Alan Sau via ShutterStock

Then you have the gold plating on top.  Because it has this hallmark referring to the silver, you know it’s the silver that is 92.5 and not the gold—you know it isn’t solid gold but gold plating.

Differences Between Gold Vermeil and Gold Plating

18k gold vermeil star crystal open bangle

Image by Glaciermistco via Etsy

While all gold vermeil involves gold plating, not all gold plating is gold vermeil. 

The difference is one of quality.  A lot of gold plated jewelry starts with some less valuable metal.  It also coats this metal with a very thin layer of gold plating.  That is how gold vermeil stands out.

There are specifications that must be met for jewelry to qualify as gold vermeil:

  • Have, at its base, what we said above, 92.5% sterling silver
  • Have plating at least 2.5 microns thick.  As a reference, some gold-plated jewelry has plating as low as 0.5 microns.  One micron is a common thickness.  Obviously, the thicker the plating, the better.  Thin plating won’t last long at all.
  • Be of gold that is at least 10 karats (which means the gold has 41.7% or higher god content).


What Does 14K Vermeil Mean?

Bottega venetta china bracelet

Image via Mytheresa.com

Watch out, girl scout, we’re going to drop some knowledge.  

Karatage is what measures and labels.  It’s all about the percentage of gold to alloy in it.  Let’s do some bullets:

  • 24K—100% gold
  • 22K—91.7% gold; alloyed with copper 
  • 18K—75% gold; alloys are silver or copper
  • 14K—58.3%
  • 10K- 41.7%

This means that 14K vermeil is sterling silver coated with gold that is 58.3% pure gold. This karatage has a nice yellow hue.  14K gold tends to be both malleable due to the softness of pure gold, and durable due the alloys.

What Does 18K Vermeil Mean?

We’ll give you one guess.

If you guessed it means jewelry with 18K gold-plating, you are a highly intelligent young urban fashion plate. Great job.

dome bangle bracelet in 14k gold

Image by Jolivur via Etsy

Is Gold Vermeil Regulated?

Vermeil is definitely regulated. First off, when you see a stamp referring to the karatage, it does have to be accurate.  The country that probably regulates it the best is the U.S.  You can be pretty sure about what is 14K vermeil and 18K vermeil in the States.  

In other countries, there could be some fudging with the karatage and the thickness of the plating.

One thing for your mental file is that Canada has different regulations—there, the plating needs to be just 1.0 micron thick.  If Canadian manufacturers market their jewelry that is under 1.5 as vermeil in the U.S., they are breaking the law.  It’s something to be aware of.

Should I Buy Gold Vermeil?

If you’re looking to show some gold and you don’t want to spend too much money, go for it.  It’s not so much about what is gold vermeil worth as it is what it’s worth to you.  A lot of fashion-conscious millennials and zoomers who you see in gold chokers and bracelets are actually wearing gold-plated jewelry—it’s a secret, but not a dirty one! 

Gold Vermeil FAQ

Q. How long does gold vermeil last?

One thing to know about the assurance of 925 gold vermeil is that it will last longer than other kinds of gold plating.  It’s the Cadillac of gold plating, if you will.  That is due to the required thickness, whether it be 14k gold vermeil or 18k gold vermeil, and due to the durability of the base metal, sterling silver.

There is no doubt that you can wear gold vermeil will last several months without the plating rubbing off at all.  The only way you’d fail to get this much use out of it would be if you wore it every single day.

If you’re really wanting to make your vermeil jewelry last, try not to wear it when sweating and keep it away from any other kind of moisture or wetness, since these are the things that cause tarnishing.

14k gold vermeil solid rectangle emerald cut pendant necklace

Image by Glaciermistco via Etsy


Q. Are there potential allergic reactions to gold vermeil?

Remember above when we explained that whether vermeil was 14k or 18k had to do with how much alloys were used?  Well, one alloy that can be used is nickel.  That’s kind of important because a lot of people are allergic to nickel.  If that describes you, be sure to find out if there’s nickel in the plating of any piece you buy.

Otherwise, other factors that can come into play are the climate and your body chemistry—it’s different for everyone.  It’s very likely that you’ll be in the clear, but do be aware of the possibilities.

18k yellow gold vermeil sterling silver padlock locket stacking earrings

Image by Glaciermistco via Etsy

Q. How to care for gold vermeil

One of the biggest things with this particular component of your jewelry collection is to keep it nice and dry.  At the very least, make sure you’re not wearing it when you put on lotion or perfume or anything like that.  If you can stop from perspiring while wearing gold vermeil that would help too.

As far as cleaning, go the usual route of a soft, dry cloth.  Yes, a gentle one.  No one’s ever going to tell you to be super rough with steel wool.

And, as far as that goes, try to avoid any kind of chemicals when cleaning your gold vermeil.

But in general, go for it.  Enjoy gold vermeil knowing that when you’re going the route of gold-plated jewelry you’re getting the best quality of it.

Tags: gold filled, gold vermeil jewelry, vermeil gold, thick layer of gold, jewelry gold vermeil, thickness of the gold, gold jewelry