Table of Contents
What Is It?
Over the past few years, vermeil gold – or gold vermeil – has been in the spotlight in the gold industry. Surprisingly, though, this type of gold has been around for centuries.
Still, not many people know what it actually is.
Gold vermeil is not exactly real gold, but it certainly looks like it. Just like gold-plated jewelry and gold-filled items, gold vermeil is a cheaper alternative to real solid gold.
The word ‘vermeil’ is French for ‘silver’, but it refers to a wide range of metals coated in gold.
The aspects of vermeil gold are very specific, and coatings must meet fixed criteria to be considered vermeil.
Firstly, the gold layer must have a thickness of at least 2.5 microns to be vermeil and not gold-plated. Gold plating can be as thin as 0.5 microns thick, so vermeil contains more substance.
Secondly, the metal upon which the coating is placed must be sterling silver or fine silver – the focus on silver is probably why we have borrowed the French term to name this technique. Also, the gold must be at least 10 karats in order to be considered a vermeil coating.
How Is It Made?
As we now know, when making gold vermeil you need to start off with either sterling silver or fine silver items.
When the process of coating the silver in gold first came about, fire-gilding was the process by which the gold was melted and poured over the silver.
However, this method has proven to be extremely dangerous and has since been replaced with a much safer process called electrolysis.
Electrolysis is a detailed scientific process, but in a nutshell, it is the process of sending electric currents through a substance in order to break it down and extract the necessary elements from it.
Electrolysis is not only a safer method than fire-gilding, but it also provides better results. For example, if electrolysis is successful, the thickness of the vermeil will be the same throughout the whole coating.
What Is It Used For?
Since it first came about in eighteenth-century France, vermeil gold has been used to cover a variety of objects.
Although it is commonly used these days to manufacture affordable gold jewelry alternatives, it was most commonly used to cover large objects that would have incurred a huge cost, had real gold been used.
It really can be used on any type of object and helps people who cannot afford solid gold to enjoy the gold experience.
Very wealthy people have been known to use the gold, too.
There is a room in the White House, for example, which apparently has an entire set of tableware made out of gold vermeil – with a vermeil wine cooler to match!
Even British royalty is a fan of the gold alternative and has used it to make the Crown Jewels. Clearly, gold vermeil is well respected in all walks of life.
Why Is Gold Vermeil So Great?
Well, the main attraction of vermeil is that it is much more affordable than solid gold, but looks very similar. Another reason that vermeil gold is so highly considered is that it is much more durable and special than gold-plated items.
Also, although it looks like solid gold, vermeil gold is much lighter than regular gold, so it’s easier to wear and use.
Perhaps that is why the crown jewels were not made out of solid gold! Vermeil is also widely used because it is very simple to care for and to clean.
All that needs to be done to maintain the shiny exterior of vermeil gold is to wipe it every now and then with a silver cleaning product.
Why Should I Choose Vermeil Gold Over Gold Plating Or Gold-Filled Products?
Gold vermeil is more valuable than gold plating for a few reasons. Firstly, whereas vermeil gold is coated onto a sterling silver or fine silver, gold plating is placed on top of less precious metals, including copper and brass.
Not only does this make vermeil more valuable, but it also means that gold plating does not solely use non-allergic metals. Because of this, gold plating can lead to allergic reactions once the plating has worn down.
Secondly, because vermeil must be at least 2.5 microns thick, it is much more durable and valuable than gold plating, which has no required thickness. Most gold plating is around 0.5 microns thick, which makes the plating much easier to remove with wear and tear.
Gold-filled jewelry can use any type of base metal, so often has a much cheaper metal than silver.
However, the gold coating is usually much thicker on gold-filled items than it is on vermeil.
This means that although vermeil is made from higher quality materials, the gold-filled layer can be more durable than vermeil. Which one you buy depends not only on your preference for the base metal but also on your budget.
Can Vermeil Gold Tarnish?
Unfortunately, it can. Although solid gold cannot tarnish, the thin layer of vermeil gold is much less resistant to everyday wear and tear.
Although nothing beats the quality and preciousness of solid gold, gold vermeil is a great alternative for those who cannot afford pure gold’s extortionate prices.
Sure, it will not be quite as durable or precious as solid gold, but it will look extremely similar and be easier to wear! Both silver and gold are nonallergic metals, so vermeil gold is suitable for anyone and everyone.
If you are looking to treat yourself to a new piece of jewelry, why not consider getting a beautiful gold vermeil piece? We’re certain you won’t regret it.