Confused? What's the Difference Between the Different Types of Gold Jewelry?


What is gold vermeil?

Gold vermeil. Gold plated. Solid gold. There seem to be so many different types of gold jewelry that it’s hard to keep up in terms of figuring out which one is best for you or for a gift for someone special. Which one is the best? Which ones will tarnish? Which can you get wet, shower or swim in? Will gold vermeil tarnish? The answers to these questions are simple and complex at the same time.

Gold jewelry history

First discovered about 5000 years ago, gold was used for many thousands of years only to create jewelry and symbols to use during worship. Around 1500 BC, the ancient Egyptians began using gold as a currency and in use for international trade. Most of the gold used for trade came from the main gold bearing region of Nubia.

What is gold vermeil?

Many people wonder what the difference is between gold plated and gold vermeil jewelry and why there is such a price difference. What does the difference actually mean? The answer lies in two places-the base metal and the gold thickness. Essentially, gold plated jewelry is when a light layer of gold is electroplated over a low-quality base metal such as brass, copper or other low-end metal.

The problem occurs because some people are allergic to these metals- in particular copper, nickel and brass is used as the base for many silver- and gold-plated designs. This is why gold-plated jewelry is much cheaper than gold vermeil. If you’ve ever had a gold ring or other piece of jewelry turn your body green within a few days, it's fair to say it was made of cheap gold plating. This is because the base metal is usually a lot of copper in a metal alloy.

Gold vermeil has a thick layer of gold electroplated on top of sterling silver 925 (which means 92.5 pure silver with 7.5% other metal) and is the highest quality of silver jewelry available. In order to be sold as gold vermeil in the US, the plating must be at least 2.5 microns thick, which is five times thicker than gold plating on average. Because of the higher quality materials used, as well as the thicker gold plating on the jewelry, gold vermeil is more expensive, but it will last much longer. Because of this, gold vermeil is a great option for special gifts and pieces that you don’t want to have to replace quickly. With proper care, gold vermeil will last for years before you need to have it replated. Many of our pieces at Treasure and Kin are gold vermeil which ensures a thick layer of gold so that you can enjoy your pieces for years to come. Additionally, gold vermeil is hypoallergenic for those who have allergies to cheaper base metals.

Will Gold Vermeil Tarnish?

Another question that many people wonder is if gold vermeil will tarnish. The answer is generally no. With typical use and wear, gold vermeil is the highest quality, and longest lasting option aside from solid gold. While gold vermeil can tarnish because the base layer is Sterling silver and gold tarnishes over time so it can easily be polished away. Typically, gold vermeil will not tarnish much because it has such a thick layer of gold over it. It is the best option for those who don’t want to have to spend a large amount of money on solid gold.

Is tarnishing a sign of poor-quality jewelry?

No. Gold vermeil will change color over time due to the fact the sterling silver underlayer of the piece. Because silver is mixed with copper, this is what will cause discoloration over time. This isn’t a sign of poor quality and is a natural occurrence with the metal.

The indication of good quality vermeil jewelry is that it can be cleaned and won’t remain discolored. You can use anti tarnish cleaning cloths to easily clean your vermeil jewelry.

If you purchased solid gold jewelry, you will notice that over time your solid gold pieces will discolor and it’s due to the same reason. Solid gold 14K and 18K jewelry is also mixed with sterling silver and copper. Since 24K gold is too soft to be used for jewelry, it must be mixed with other metals to create jewelry pieces. You should clean and care for your gold vermeil, sterling silver and solid gold pieces the same way by gently wiping them with anti-tarnish cleaning cloths in between use.

Is gold vermeil hypoallergenic?

Yes, gold vermeil is hypoallergenic. This is because the base metal is sterling silver so it’s a great option for anyone that has allergies to many common base metals such as brass, copper, nickel, or zinc.


Speaking of solid gold, what is it and why is it so expensive?

Solid gold is exactly what it sounds like- a solid piece of gold shaped into a piece of jewelry. Because of this, as you can imagine, it is expensive. The


What is rose gold vermeil?

Many people also wonder: what is rose gold vermeil? While rose gold is undoubtedly beautiful, something to be aware of if you have allergic reactions to copper or other metals, you may want to steer clear of rose gold. Rose gold by nature is a mixture of gold with copper which gives it the slightly rosy hue. If you find yourself irritated by a piece of rose gold jewelry the copper content may be to blame.

Can gold vermeil get wet?

Gold vermeil can get wet with water. In fact, you can use plain water to clean the jewelry with a wet cloth. Just follow the care guide that comes with the jewelry. However, as with all jewelry whether it is gold vermeil, solid gold or sterling silver try not to let your jewelry be exposed to chemicls. You should avoid swimming with your gold vermeil or 925 sterling silver jewelry in both pools and the shower. This is because swimming in the pool exposes the gold to chemicals such as chlorine that will damage your pieces. Similarly, wearing gold vermeil in the shower exposes it to the chemicals in soaps and shampoos that start to destroy the metal.

Is gold plated real gold?

Yes. Gold plated is real gold that has been electroplated onto a base metal such as brass, zinc or copper. In regular gold plated jewelry the gold layer is very thin usually around .5 microns and this results in the gold wearing away fairly quickly and revealing the base metal underneath. When you buy a low priced  piece of gold jewelry that quickly changes color and (unfortunately turns your skin green yikes!) it is usually gold plated. The benefit is that you won’t pay as much for the jewelry, however, if you are looking for a piece that will last for a longer time, you want to choose gold vermeil, gold filled or solid gold.


Gold plated vs gold filled which is better?

The difference between gold plated and gold filled is that gold plated pieces are electroplated or dipped in gold whereas gold filled pieces have gold heat or melted onto the base layer. Additionally, gold plated pieces are usually created using thin layers of gold plated on top of either brass, nickel or zinc. Gold filled pieces on the other hand are created by melting the gold over a base metal of sterling silver or brass. 

Gold filled is legally required to be 5% of the item’s total weight. Gold filled will last much longer than regular gold plated (.5 microns) and can be worn while showering, in the water and to sleep. It is recommended that you not expose it to chlorine or salt water. You can wear it and use standard lotions or creams but try to avoid harsh chemicals such as acids or peels etc. as this will damage the jewelry.

When comparing gold filled to gold vermeil however, it can be a toss up as to which is better. It depends upon the piece, how thick the layer of gold is on the vermeil piece among other things. At Treasure and Kin, our gold vermeil jewelry is plated at a thickness of 2.5-3 microns, which is 5 times thicker than regular gold plating. With proper care, the pieces will look beautiful and last for years to come.

Many of our pieces are gold filled with a sterling silver base which ensures that they will last for many years to come. When choosing a gold-filled piece of jewelry, be sure that the base metal is sterling silver and not brass if you have any sensitivity or allergies. Considering that brass is made up of 90% of copper and 10% zinc, it’s likely that if you are allergic to brass you are also allergic to copper as well.

Gold filled vs. solid gold which is better?

Deciding whether to purchase gold filled or solid gold can be a big decision. Gold filled jewelry is a great option that will last for many years with proper care. It is also less expensive than solid gold so many feel it is a great way to invest in gold without spending a large amount.

Solid gold is the most expensive type of gold jewelry in that it is composed of?

Just as the name suggest, solid gold is comprised entirely of gold without any base metals or alloys added. It is a great choice if you are looking for jewelry that will last forever and will have a good resale value then solid gold is a great choice. It is more expensive than other types of gold however.

One karat contains 1/24 pure gold so the higher the karat amount the more pure gold content that it has.

Solid gold is more expensive because it contains higher gold content generally. It can come in 10K, 14K, 18K  karats with the higher karat levels meaning more gold content. If it is not 24K gold then it is mixed with another metal-usually sterling silver or copper.

Ultimately, the type of gold jewelry you choose is dependent on what your goals are for your jewelry. If you are looking for something that you don’t intend to keep very long, then regular gold plated jewelry is fine. If you are looking for quality jewelry that will last and is affordable, then gold vermeil or gold filled jewelry is a great option. If you are looking for quality piece with a higher karat count, and want a high resale value then solid gold may be your best option.