Gold plated vs gold vermeil are two different types of gold jewelry that have been growing in popularity. Both are alternatives to solid gold, enabling you to buy jewelry that’s both affordable and beautiful.
When shopping for jewelry, it is important to understand the difference between these two to avoid getting ripped off. At first glance, both may look the same, but they are not.
So how do you tell them apart? This article explains the differences between gold plated vs gold vermeil so that you can make a more informed decision when buying jewelry.
What Is Gold Plated?
This is when a thin layer of gold is electroplated over another metal. Using electricity, jewelers attract both metals to each other and then fuse the gold to the base metal.
Jewelers make use of several metals for this process, including copper, silver, brass, nickel, and platinum. However, they often use a copper base because it does not tarnish easily and has a bright, clean appearance.
The thickness of the gold plating will determine how long it lasts and how much wear it can withstand. The typical thickness of gold-plated jewelry is between 0.5 to 2.5 microns (a micron is equal to one-millionth of a meter).
A human hair is about 50 microns thick, so you can imagine how small this measurement is. The gold plating will eventually wear away, revealing the base metal underneath, which can look unsightly and cause skin discoloration.
What Is Gold Vermeil?
Gold vermeil is the process of electroplating a sterling silver base with a thick layer of gold. The gold must be at least 10 karats and the layer must be at least 2.5 microns thick to meet the standards set by the Federal Trade Commission.
The quality of gold vermeil jewelry depends on the thickness of the gold layer and the method the jeweler used in plating it. Jewelers also make use of a variety of gold colors, including yellow gold and rose gold.
Gold vermeil jewelry is popular because it’s a great way to enjoy the look and feel of gold at affordable prices. Besides, sterling silver is hypo-allergenic, which means that people with sensitive skin can wear gold vermeil jewelry without having allergic reactions.
SEE: Gold Plated vs Gold Filled: What Is the Difference? Which Is Better?
Gold Plated vs Gold Vermeil
The main difference between gold plated vs gold vermeil is the base metal. Gold plated jewelry has a cheap metal base (usually copper or brass) while gold vermeil jewelry has a sterling silver base.
Another difference between gold plated vs gold vermeil is the thickness of the gold layer. Vermeil must have at least a 2.5-micron layer of at least 10 karat gold over sterling silver. Gold plated has a much thinner layer, which can be as thin as 0.5 microns over a base metal.
Gold vermeil is more expensive than gold plated because it’s has a sterling silver base and a thick layer of gold. Gold-plated jewelry is the more budget-friendly option, so you should go for it if you can’t afford gold vermeil.
Gold vermeil is thicker than gold plating and because of its sterling silver base, it won’t tarnish as easily. It’s much more durable than gold-plated pieces, so you don’t have to worry about it wearing off over time.
So Which Type of Jewelry Should You Choose?
Gold vermeil jewelry is a fantastic choice if you’re looking for something affordable and durable. It’s also hypoallergenic, making it the best option for those who have sensitive skin.
Gold plated jewelry is an excellent choice if you can’t afford gold vermeil jewelry but still want the look of gold. The disadvantage is that the layer of gold is so thin that if you wear it often, the base metal underneath will be visible.
In this case, you will have to go to a jeweler to have it re-plated. How often depends on how heavy your usage is and how thick the layer of gold was, to begin with.
In addition, the base metal underneath gold-plated jewelry can cause allergic reactions in some people. Be sure to put this into consideration when making your choice (especially if you have sensitive skin).
SEE: Is Gold Plated Real Gold? What Exactly Is the Difference?
How Do You Know if Your Jewelry Is Gold Plated or Gold Vermeil?
Look for the stamp
If the piece of jewelry has a stamp that reads GP, then you can assume it is gold plated. Gold vermeil jewelry, on the other hand, will have a stamp that reads “GV” and the karat number to indicate its quality.
Test with acid
One of the best ways to test the quality of your jewelry is to use an acid test kit. These kits are available online or at your local jewelry store and can help you determine if your jewelry is gold plated or gold vermeil.
Use a magnet
Gold is non-magnetic, so if your jewelry sticks to a magnet, you know it’s not gold-plated or vermeil. If it doesn’t stick, you’re at least one step closer to knowing if your jewelry is gold plated or vermeil.
Use a soft cloth
Grab a soft cloth and rub the piece of jewelry in question vigorously. If any of the gold comes off on the cloth, then it’s gold plated; if no gold comes off, then it could vermeil. This isn’t a definitive test, but it’s certainly worth trying if you suspect that your piece is fake.
Try a magnifying glass
Another way to check if your jewelry is gold plated or gold vermeil is by using a high-powered magnifying glass. If you notice that the color appears dull and blotchy, then you may be dealing with a piece of gold-plated jewelry.
SEE: How Long Does Gold-Plated Jewelry Last? Tips on How to Care For Your Jewelry
How Do You Take Care of Gold Jewelry?
Keep it away from chemicals
Products like makeup, perfume, and hair sprays contain chemicals that tarnish your jewelry, so put them on after you’ve applied these products. You should also remove your gold jewelry before swimming, as chlorine and other chemicals in the pool can damage and discolor it.
Don’t store it in the bathroom
It can be easy to leave your jewelry on the bathroom counter, but that’s not the best place for it. The moisture and heat from the shower can cause metals to tarnish. If you have a lot of gold pieces, get a jewelry armoire with drawers. You can also buy small zipper bags to keep them in.
Wipe it down after wearing it
Use a soft cloth or a polishing cloth to wipe down your gold jewelry after wearing it. This will remove any residue and keep tarnish at bay.
Wash with soap and water
The best way to clean your gold jewelry is with a solution of dishwashing liquid and water. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove any dirt or grime from the piece and rinse thoroughly in warm water.
You can also soak your jewelry in warm water and dishwashing liquid for up to 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly under running water, pat with a soft cloth, then let it air dry.
Store your pieces separately
Store your gold jewelry separately so it doesn’t scratch against other pieces in your collection. When traveling, place each piece of gold jewelry in its own protective fabric pouch or small plastic bag and pack it near the top of your suitcase for easy access.
Remove it when doing household chores
Remove gold jewelry when doing household chores and washing your hands, as harsh chemicals in cleaning products can damage it. You should also remove it before exercising, dancing, or doing any activity that may cause your skin to sweat.
Clean gold jewelry with vinegar
If you notice any tarnish on your gold jewelry, which is common with older pieces, you can use white vinegar to clean it.
Fill a small bowl with one cup of white vinegar and two tablespoons of baking soda. Then, put your gold jewelry in the bowl and let it soak for 15-20 minutes. Next, remove the pieces, rinse them under cold water and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.
SEE: How to Clean Gold Plated Jewelry (Without Ruining It)
How often should you clean your gold pieces?
Once a week. If you wear your gold jewelry regularly, you should clean it about once a week. If you don’t wear it regularly, you can clean it less often — once every month is a good rule of thumb.
Can gold-plated jewelry cause allergies?
Yes, it can. The problem with gold-plated jewelry is that the base metal underneath can contact your skin, causing allergies. This happens when the layer of gold is too thin or when the gold starts to wear off over time.
So, if you’re allergic to nickel, copper, or other base metals, you need to stay away from gold-plated jewelry.
Where can you buy gold jewelry?
You can buy gold jewelry from any good jewelry store or online. You can also buy them from departmental stores, pawnshops, and even flea markets.
To sum it up, there are many differences between gold plated vs gold vermeil. Gold plated is a method of plating a very small amount of gold over a base metal. Whereas gold vermeil, as it relates to jewelry, is a method of plating a thick layer of gold over sterling silver.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s best to choose whichever one works best for your needs.
Thanks for reading.
Visit Africana Fashion for more articles on gold-plated and gold vermeil jewelry.