What is vermeil and how is it used for jewelry?

What is vermeil and how is it used for jewelry?

Published by Gordon Weller GIA GG on 12th Dec 2018

Vermeil Bracelet Cuff with Gemstones

Vermeil jewelry, pronounced "vehr-MAY," is made entirely of precious metal alloys. It's created by coating or plating all or part of a sterling silver object with gold or gold alloys. According to US Federal Trade Commission guidelines, to be designated as vermeil an item must be:

  • Made using sterling silver as the base metal
  • The gold portion must be of reasonable durability and a minimum of 2.5 microns thick
  • The gold must be 10 karats or higher in fineness.

Most high-quality vermeil jewelry is made with a 14, 18, 22 or 24 karat gold coating. Many people associate vermeil with gold plating. While gold plate and vermeil are similar, big differences exist in quality, durability, and desirability between the two. Key factors which set vermeil jewelry apart from gold plated pieces are the base metal and gold thickness. With gold plate, any metal can be used as the base. Brass, copper, steel and nickel are the most common, whereas sterling silver must be the base metal for vermeil. Gold plate has a very thin layer of gold, the minimum being 0.5 microns as opposed to vermeil’s 2.5 micron minimum. In general, comparable gold plated jewelry is less costly than vermeil jewelry.

What are the drawbacks of vermeil jewelry?

With vermeil, the exposed sterling silver portion of the piece can tarnish, as described in our sterling silver write-up. Also, over time, the gold coating can show signs of wear, exposing the jewelry’s silver base color. The durability of the gold covering is dependent on two factors, the thickness and purity of the gold (expressed in karats). The thicker the gold coating, the longer it will take for it to wear off. Since pure gold is a soft metal, the higher the content of pure gold, the easier it will scratch and wear. If the silver base color begins to show through, your vermeil piece can easily and relatively inexpensively be re-plated by a reputable jeweler. With proper care and attention, vermeil jewelry pieces can be a valuable addition to your jewelry collection.

Why does 100 East Fine Jewelry offer vermeil jewelry?

Click on the link to see the 100 East Fine Jewelry Vermeil Jewelry Collection. We find vermeil jewelry to be an attractive way to provide color accents with its two-toned white and yellow effect. This allows vermeil to be worn in combination with other jewelry pieces made from silver, white gold or yellow gold. Vermeil is more cost effective than mixing white and yellow gold alloys in a single piece.