The Truth About Gold - Gold-filled, Vermeil & Gold-Plated
People often ask me “Is this made with ‘Real Gold?’' It's one of my most asked questions and it’s actually a complicated one to answer.
Gold in its purest form is far too soft to be practical and can easily bend or scratch. Instead the alloys (a metal made by combining two or more metallic elements) that we know as, 14K, 18K, 24K etc. are used to create fine gold jewelry and can hold up under daily wear. This gold tends to be very expensive and can raise the price point significantly on your favorite jewelry. Since I’m a strong proponent for high quality but accessible jewelry I use goldfill and vermeil gold in all my handmade jewelry. Read on for a deeper look into why and what these terms mean..
What is gold filled or gold fill?
These terms mean that a piece of jewelry has 1/20th or 5% pure gold, and like ‘Real Gold’ it’s mixed with alloys. In Gold fill, multiple layers of solid, 14k gold have been securely pressure bonded to a core of jeweler’s brass. The US regulates the industry standard at 5%. When manufacturing the layers require intense heat and pressure. They’re structured like a sandwich - the bottom layer is gold alloy, the middle layer is a metal core of brass or sterling silver and the top layer is also gold alloy. While continuing to apply high heat the layers are rolled over repeatedly. This process bonds the metals together and ultimately creates that long lasting finished product. Gold fill is actually the industry leader for high quality yet affordable jewelry.
What is gold vermeil?
Vermeil, pronounced Ver-may…cuz French, is also another regulated term. In the US, Vermeil is composed of two precious metals. It must have a base of sterling silver and be plated with at least 10K gold. This means the coating is at least 41.7% pure gold. I use 24K plating. Lastly, the coating itself must be at least 2.5microns thick. Like gold-filled, vermeil is built to last and
As a point of reference, I never use gold plated. It is not held to strict standards regulations. Gold fill contains at least 100 times more gold than gold plated. The base metal is often copper, nickel or common (not jeweler’s) brass and the thin gold coating is .5 microns. This is why gold plated things often turn dark, peel off and worst of all turn your skin green.
I use Gold fill and Vermeil because the quality for the cost is simply outstanding. Using ‘Real Gold’ can raise the price of a piece by four times. With proper care and storage, your Gold fill and Vermeil jewelry can last through many years of wear and love, look great and not break the bank. When choosing your jewelry don’t be afraid to ask your jeweler these questions - what’s the gold’s karat weight, the thickness of the layer and the quality of the base metal.
Top reasons to choose gold filled or vermeil