The world of jewelry has tons of terms that you’d literally never hear anywhere else. Like fine dining and architecture, this is an art form that draws from many cultures throughout the world and reaches far back into history.
With techniques and tools passed down through the ages, we end up in the modern world using terms like gold vermeil – but what does that even mean? You may have heard it before, but you’ve probably got questions.
We’re here to set the record straight on gold vermeil, so you know what you’re getting into the next time you buy quality jewelry online or in-store.
Gold Vermeil Defined
Pronounced “ver-may,” this is a French word that translates as silver-gilt orgilded silver. The technique is ancient, and historical records show that civilizations have been overlaying gold onto silver items for many thousands of years.
From theIncas of South America to the Greeks mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, people have been using hammers, heat, and high-pressure instruments to create gold visual displays, and methods have only improved with time.
Today, we see many gold-plated and vermeil artifacts kept behind glass, from the Royal Crown Jewels to the many museums of Europe. French artisans were the ones to perfect the technique safely in the 18th century, and now craftsmen rely on electroplating to do the job today.
There is even a Vermeil Room in the White House in Washington DC, where portraits of the First Ladies hang on the walls, and silver-gilt tableware fills the room. Still, we turn to Europe for guidance on what vermeil means.
Like their wine, cheese, and fine clothing threads, Europeans take their jewelry seriously enough to make legal regulations about it. Many of these rules have made their way to the United States over time, and vermeil is one of those terms.
Today, a piece of jewelry must meet three conditions to legally be called vermeil in the USA. Whether you’re dealing with a Diamond Prong Cuban Bracelet or an engagement ring, these are the rules – no exceptions. They are as follows.
- Sterling silver, an alloy made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other, must be the base material. That means no nickel, brass, copper, or tungsten.
- The gold plating must be a minimum of 10 karats, which equates to a gold content of 41.7%. Some companies raise the standard of their vermeil to 12k or 50%.
- That plating must be at least 2.5 microns thick. Although a micron is 1/1000th of a millimeter, this ends up being a substantial amount of gold on larger pieces.
Regulations are not 100% consistent from one country to the next. Canada, for instance, has much lower requirements for what they consider to be gold vermeil. The thickness of the gold plating can only be 1 micron thick, which is less than half the amount you’ll get in the United States.
Plus, some Canadian brands use questionable marketing practices to sell you gold vermeil jewelry without really telling you the truth about these details. It’s important to read the fine print and make sure you know exactly what you’re buying every time.
If you’re fine with buying Canadian vermeil, make sure the price reflects the actual amount of gold you get. This jewelry can still look great, but you want to protect yourself as a consumer.
Advantages of Gold Vermeil
We’ve had our history lesson on gold vermeil, but what’s the purpose behind these regulations, and why have these techniques held up for so many years?
We can start with the obvious – gold vermeil is meant to look as if your jewelry, tableware, or accessories are made fromsolid gold all the way through. Gold remains the most recognized and popular precious metals on the planet, and wearing it means that you’re basically dripping with wealth and style.
You can enjoy vermeil jewelry without emptying your bank account, which opens up a range of possibilities for people from all walks of life.
In some cases, jewelers argue that vermeil is actually a better investment than a pure gold ring since it may be easier to maintain over a period of time, requiring less maintenance and reducing long-term costs, too.
If you are in the market for anEternity Ring, for instance, vermeil can give you the look you want and reduce some of the risks. That sterling silver base is tougher, so you can wear the ring every day and make it last.
Vermeil Vs. Gold Plated
You may be wondering – what’s the difference between vermeil and regular gold plated jewelry?
As we mentioned before, it’s all about the regulatory measures, ensuring clear standards for jewelers to follow, and making it easier for you – the customer – to get a quality product.
Gold plating is a very broad term without any definite parameters, meaning every single manufacturer will use different materials and techniques. Sterling silver isn’t required, for example, meaning a ring or bracelet may contain materials such as nickel or brass, depending on who makes it.
There are also no restrictions on the karat or the thickness of the gold used in plated pieces. While you may encounter gold plated jewelry worth more than vermeil, brands will often use the term to indicate lower-quality materials and a thinner layer of low-karat gold.
Be careful when buying gold-plated jewelry of questionable origin since it may contain allergy-causing materials like nickel. That’s why sterling silver – completely hypoallergenic – is a safer bet for many people.
On the other hand, you’ve got gold filled jewelry, which usually features a very thick layer of high-quality gold. This is as close as we get to a 100% gold piece without going all the way. Of course, you should always investigate your jewelry to know exactly what you’re buying.
White Gold And Other Variants
If you’ve decided that gold vermeil is the right stuff for you, it’s time to look at what’s available.
Remember that 10k is the minimum amount of gold that can qualify as vermeil, but you may want to dial that up to 14k or 18k, depending on your budget. There may not be a clear distinction between the appearance of these multiple products, but you’re the one who will be wearing it.
It’s also worth considering white gold vermeil as you browse for jewelry, especially if you’re going for a big, bold piece like a Diamond Prong Cuban Necklace.
Maybe your skin tone works better with lighter, brighter material like white gold, or you think it will complement your wardrobe better. The key here is to ignore what everyone else is doing and buy the jewelry that you want most of all.
Some products even have a mix of different colored-gold vermeil, which can be a cool addition to your collection. Be sure you examine all your options and know what’s going on before you make the final call.
The Best Gold Vermeil Jewelry
There’s a common theme here when discussing gold vermeil – it’s all about trust. When you see that vermeil label, you know that you’re getting a certain degree of quality and quantity, which goes a long way in a world of jewelry where things aren’t always 100% clear.
A big part of building and maintaining that trust is to stick with a jeweler you know and love, with plenty of positive feedback and transparent service.
You’ve got a lot of options for jewelry with the rise of the internet, but not all brands look after their customer base as well as they should. Hold yourself to a higher standard of quality, and make sure you only buy gold vermeil jewelry from companies with a rock-solid track record.
Developing a relationship with a jeweler is a huge asset in the digital world, and the peace of mind you get in return is worth it.
Gold vermeil has a history of high standards, so keep a high bar for the jewelry you purchase.
It seems like a simple concept on the surface, but the meaning behind gold vermeil goes deep. Download this knowledge and never forget it – you’ll need it as you build your jewelry collection and develop your tastes over time.