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Shopping for gold jewelry? Then you’ve probably heard the term “gold vermeil.” But what is gold vermeil jewelry anyway? We’re here to break it down for you. While vermeil is not the same quality as solid gold (though it’s not far behind), when you compare gold vermeil vs. gold-plated jewelry, vermeil is a more exceptional and durable option. 

As an added benefit, gold vermeil is a more affordable option, particularly if you’re more concerned about the diamond or gemstone than you are about the gold band. Read on for a deep dive into gold vermeil, its benefits, durability and how to keep it looking shiny over time. 

what is gold vermeil?

Pronounced “vehr-may,” this French term refers to high-quality, gold-plated jewelry, such as bracelets, rings or men’s chains, that feature heavier plating to extend wearability. To be legally considered vermeil in the United States, a piece of jewelry must meet certain standards:

  • It must have sterling silver as its base material.
  • It must be plated in a gold layer that is at least 10K, which means it contains at least 41.7% gold content.
  • The gold plating must be at least 2.5 microns (or 1/100th of a millimeter) thick.

is gold vermeil real gold?

Though gold vermeil jewelry is not solid gold, this thick, authentic gold plating makes vermeil a close second to solid gold in terms of quality and affordability. The difference between gold vermeil and solid gold jewelry is that vermeil pieces include a sterling silver base electroplated with gold; whereas, solid gold is just that — jewelry made completely of gold with no alternate core. 

does gold vermeil tarnish?

While gold vermeil can tarnish, it is not as susceptible as copper-, brass- or nickel-plated jewelry thanks to its sterling silver core. Environmental factors, such as air, moisture and humidity, encourage tarnishing, or the formation of copper dioxide — the surface discoloration that emerges over time. But you can prevent tarnishing with regular, at-home maintenance or a quick visit to a reputable jeweler. 

how long does gold vermeil last?

Because gold vermeil is a plating, it can wear over time with heavy use. However, with the right care and maintenance, the durable, thick plating can hold its own for quite some time. With proper care, gold vermeil jewelry lasts for many years or even decades, thanks to its generous thickness and superior quality gold plating.

how to clean vermeil jewelry

Since gold vermeil is a warm-toned metal, you’ll want to exercise extra care while cleaning. Though gold vermeil isn’t as prone to tarnishing as other types of jewelry, it’s still a good idea to clean these pieces every few months, depending on how often you wear the jewelry. Fortunately, gold vermeil is super easy to clean:

  • Combine a few drops of non-chemical dish soap and warm water in a small bowl.
  • Dip a soft cloth in the cleaning mixture, and gently polish your jewelry.
  • Rub any excess soap away with a soft cloth dipped in warm water.
  • Gently pat the jewelry dry.

It’s also a great idea to have a jeweler periodically clean and inspect your gold vermeil pieces. 

gold vermeil vs. gold plated

Gold vermeil is different from gold-plated jewelry due to the plating thickness as well as the base material. Plating on gold-plated jewelry is at least 0.5 microns thick, which is still five times less than the requirements of gold vermeil, making gold-plated pieces more vulnerable to wear and tear. Additionally, vermeil pieces have a sterling silver base, whereas gold-plated pieces often use inexpensive core materials, such as copper or brass. 

is gold vermeil worth it? 

Next to solid gold, gold vermeil is the most superior gold jewelry on the market and a go-to option for the quality-conscious consumer. Its thick gold-plating makes it more durable than gold-plated jewelry and accounts for a lower price tag than solid gold pieces. 

Explore the Helzberg gold vermeil jewelry line today, and discover the radiance of vermeil.