Like all beautiful things, our jewellery changes with time and wear. The shine of your silver will soften, gold plating will wear into an antiqued look, and textures will mellow and develop a subtle shine. These changes are a natural characteristic of the materials and are not considered faulty.
The rate at which these changes occur depend on the care they are given and the frequency they are worn. Treat your jewellery with love by following the below instructions to keep your piece in premium condition.
Vermeil refers to a variety of gold-coated metal. For metal to be considered vermeil, it needs to meet three main trade criteria:
If these three criteria are not met, then the metal becomes gold-filled or gold-plated.
While gold vermeil is popularly used in jewellery, it is a versatile metal and has its other uses as well. A good example is the Vermeil Room of The White House. This famous room contains a wine cooler and tableware all made of vermeil. You will find vermeil being used in fixtures and furniture among other things. Also, many sports trophies and all Olympic gold medals are all made of gold vermeil.
Gold vermeil was a popular Victorian Era feature and was used heavily in jewellery, tableware and other items.
To create gold vermeil, the item is first crafted in fine or sterling silver and is then covered in gold using the process known as electrolysis. In the past, vermeil was crafted using the process of fire-gilding, but this was later banned due to the dangers inherent in this process, especially the issue of mercury causing blindness. Electrolysis, if done correctly, results in a consistent thickness and quality that is capable of lasting for a very long time, and can last for many years.
The durability of your gold vermeil actually depends on the thickness of the gold plating. In other words, gold is the primary factor when determining whether or not the gold vermeil will last. As a general rule of thumb, the thicker the gold plating, the longer the life of the piece.
Another factor to consider is the purity of the vermeil. As you may know, the higher the purity of gold, the softer it is and more susceptible to scratches and damage. If you would want gold vermeil that will last for a long time, buying 14 k or 18 k gold vermeil is recommended. Anything higher will be too soft and lower would not have the colour of gold you may be after.
Another question we get asked a lot is whether gold vermeil tarnishes.
Because vermeil is made with a silver base, and because silver is known for oxidising, it is only a matter of time before gold vermeil starts to tarnish. However, this does not have to be a permanent issue. With regular cleaning and maintaining, the tarnish can be removed and the vermeil restored to sparkle.
Gold vermeil, gold-plated and gold-filled jewellery are very similar in concept. Only slight differences in execution and materials distinguish these three methods.
There is no standard metal or gold thickness when it comes to gold-plate. You can find gold plate in a variety of thicknesses and on a range of varying metals and alloys. With gold-plating, there is the high likelihood of the gold finish wearing out and chipping over time as the gold coating is very thin.
Gold-filled jewellery is more valuable than gold-plate. It contains more gold as the gold coating is quite thick. Also, the base metal used for gold-filled items is often a gold alloy. This is hypoallergenic and also does not tarnish. Gold-filled is the next best thing to solid gold. This is why it is costlier than gold-plate or even vermeil.
Gold vermeil is similar to gold-plate in terms of affordability and amount of gold used. The main difference between the two is that vermeil has its strict standards and is made entirely of precious metals (both silver and gold are considered precious metals) while gold plate has different levels of gold thickness and is made with any base metal. If the same criteria is met for both, gold plate and gold vermeil can be one and the same!
You can find gold vermeil in many jewellery stores online and in-store, however it is essential to be a vigilant buyer. Here are some things to look for before you buy:
Certain metals such as nickel, copper, chromium and cobalt have been known to cause allergic reactions in individuals. This is not a concern with gold vermeil, as it only generally contains gold and silver.
However, if there are materials mixed in the vermeil such as nickel, sellers are required to disclose them. Be extra vigilant in inquiring about the composition of the gold vermeil.
With proper care and maintenance, gold vermeil jewellery can keep sparkling through the years. Here are our top tips for cleaning and storing your gold vermeil jewellery.