Decoding the Difference: Gold Vermeil vs. Plated Gold

When it comes to jewellery, the allure of gold stands timeless. Yet, not all gold jewellery is created equal, particularly when comparing gold vermeil with gold plated options. For shoppers looking for both quality and elegance, understanding these differences is key. This post delves into why gold vermeil jewellery, such as our gold bracelets and gold necklaces with their luxurious appeal and enduring quality, emerge as the superior choice.

Beyond the Surface: What Makes Vermeil Stand Out

At CARAT LONDON* all our gold vermeil jewellery is crafted using a foundation of 925 sterling silver. Sterling silver is an ideal base material as it is renowned for its brilliance and durability. Sterling silver is composed of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper. This high-quality base is what sets gold vermeil apart, offering a perfect canvas for the luxurious gold layer that is applied on top. In contrast to that, gold plated jewellery is a term used to describe any jewellery that has received a thin gold coating. The base used for gold plated jewellery can be different metals such as silver, brass, copper or nickel. Gold vermeil jewellery is thus the more delicate and exquisite choice.

5x Thicker Gold Layer: The Superior Durability of Gold Vermeil

A defining feature of gold vermeil is its gold layer thickness, which typically is 2.5 microns thick. Gold plated jewellery on the other hand, can quickly lose its lustre as the gold coating on top of the base metal is typically very thin. For gold plated items, the gold layer is typically as thin as 0.5 microns. Due to the stronger and thicker layer, gold vermeil jewellery is thus much more durable and wear resistant than gold plated jewellery. The 5x thicker gold layer of gold vermeil ensures that pieces retain their beauty and integrity over time, making them an ideal choice for everyday wear.

Solid Gold vs Gold Vermeil vs Gold Filled vs Gold Plated


The Level of Purity That gives Gold Vermeil an Edge over Gold Plated Jewellery

Gold vermeil jewellery must use gold that is at least 10k or higher. This requirement guarantees that the gold layer is not only thick but also of high purity, enhancing both the jewellery's value and its aesthetic appeal. The higher the karat number, the higher the share of pure gold used in the metal composition. 18K gold indicates a 75% purity level, 14K equals a 58.3% purity level, and 10K is 41.7% pure gold. At CARAT* LONDON, for the vast majority of our products, such as our gold pendant necklaces or gold hoop earrings we use 18K gold, as we believe that 18K gold is the ideal level of purity for jewellery. 18K gold features the rich and vibrant yellow-orange colour texture that most people associate with ‘gold’ and compared to 100% pure gold, 18K gold offers a much higher level of bent and scratch resistance. For those who value the appearance and longevity of their jewellery, gold vermeil stands out as the superior choice, combining durability with the aesthetic qualities of fine jewellery. 

Women wearing a gold vermeil pendant necklace

Electroplating: The Technique used to Craft Gold Vermeil

Gold vermeil jewellery is made by coating a base of sterling silver with a layer of gold via an electrochemical process called ‘electroplating’. Electroplating involves using an electrical current to transform dissolved metal ions into a solid, thin metal layer that coats an electrode. Electroplating binds a thin layer of gold to the sterling silver base, resulting in a fusion that combines the best of both metals. The authentic and luxurious look and feel of yellow gold, coupled with the superior durability properties of sterling silver. The utilisation of this process further ensures a uniform and durable gold layer, distinguishing it from the often less consistent gold plated jewellery. With its sterling silver base topped with a thick layer of high-quality gold, gold vermeil jewellery is often indistinguishable from full gold pieces, placing it leagues above gold plated alternatives in the realm of demi-fine jewellery. 

Why Gold Vermeil Jewellery is Better for Sensitive Skin than Gold Plated Jewellery

Gold vermeil's pure or sterling silver base, combined with a thick layer of high-quality gold, minimises the risk of allergic reactions commonly associated with base metals found in gold plated jewellery. Gold plated jewellery on the other hand may cause skin irritations. Research published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that “Nickel interliners under gold, silver or chromium plating, as well as nickel‐silver and some white‐gold alloys, caused positive patch‐test reactions” (Source). Gold vermeil jewellery is thus a safer and more comfortable choice if you have sensitive skin. 

A gold vermeil tennis bracelet featuring a single line of elegant rainbow stones

Gold Vermeil Hoop Earrings

Demi-Fine Jewellery: Modern Elegance without the Hefty Price Tag

Demi-fine jewellery bridges the gap between fashion jewellery and fine jewellery, offering a balance of quality, affordability, and style. Gold vermeil perfectly encapsulates this category, providing the luxurious look of fine jewellery without the hefty price tag associated with fine jewellery. While gold plated jewellery is typically cheaper than comparable gold vermeil jewellery its value is also lower. The often lower-grade base metal of gold plated jewellery and its thinner gold coating are causing the price discrepancy. If you are looking for timeless and durable beauty, gold vermeil jewellery is definitely the way to go. It offers a far better balance between elegance and value and is also an ideal option for birthday, Christmas, anniversary or wedding gifting.

Explore Our Precious Gold Vermeil Pieces

If you are looking for jewellery that combines aesthetic appeal with quality craftsmanship, gold vermeil is unmatched. Its resemblance to fine jewellery, coupled with its inherent durability, makes it the best choice if you are looking to build a timeless jewellery collection. Whether you are seeking a unique piece for a special occasion such as gold rings or gold earrings that capture your individual style and that are also ideal for everyday wear, our wide range of gold vermeil items will surely feature the right piece for you. For those intrigued by the allure of gold but looking for something a bit different, our white gold plated sterling silver jewellery, such as our silver necklaces for women, or our silver earrings for women are a great alternative. Offering a cooler tone compared to the warm hues of gold vermeil, our white gold jewellery features many staple pieces ideal for any sophisticated jewellery collection. If you found this blog post useful, also check out our gold jewellery style guide, or our posts on what are huggie earrings and how to wear drop earrings.

Pendant Necklace Gold Vermeil

Gold Vermeil Tennis Bracelet


Frequently Asked Questions

What is gold vermeil jewellery?
Gold vermeil jewellery is jewellery with a 925 sterling silver base coated in a layer of gold that is 2.5 microns thick and features a gold purity level of at least 10k (karat).

How does gold vermeil differ from gold plated jewellery?
Gold vermeil is crafted by applying a 2.5 micron thick gold coating to a highly durable 925 sterling silver base. In contrast to that, the base of gold plated jewellery is often made from lower-grade metals such as brass, copper or nickel and the gold coating is only 0.5 microns thick.

Is gold vermeil jewellery more durable than gold plated jewellery?
In general, yes. The thicker gold layer used in gold vermeil jewellery plus the more durable sterling silver base make gold vermeil jewellery more durable and better suited for everyday wear.

Can gold vermeil tarnish?
It can tarnish over time but at a much slower rate than gold plated jewellery. Proper care extends its shine.

How should I care for gold vermeil jewellery?
Clean it with a soft cloth and avoid chemicals and water. Store it in a dry place.

Is gold vermeil hypoallergenic?
Generally, yes, due to its sterling silver base and thick gold layer, gold vermeil is a good choice if you have sensitive skin or suffer from allergies.

How can I identify gold vermeil when shopping?
On our website, our product titles clearly indicate which metal is used to craft a piece. Look for the description “Gold Vermeil”.

Why choose gold vermeil over gold plated jewellery?
Three reasons: Gold vermeil is more durable and wear resistant than gold plated jewellery, it offers better value for money and due to its thick 18K coating offers the same rich yellow gold texture and colour that is typically associated with more expensive fine jewellery.