What is Vermeil, and How Do You Identify It?

You’ve heard of solid gold, gold-filled, and gold plated jewelry, but what about gold vermeil? If you pay attention to jewelry trends or are a fashion lover, you may have noticed that gold vermeil is pretty buzzy all of a sudden. Even though it’s a recent trend in mainstream fashion, gold vermeil has been around for centuries. There are many reasons why it’s so in vogue right now. For one, it is an accessible option that doesn’t cut corners in the quality department.

What is Gold Vermeil?

Vermeil is a French term (pronounced ver-may) that means silver. To the naked eye, vermeil looks like gold, which is why it is such a great alternative if you are looking for something similar to solid gold. It is thinner than most other types of gold, and its aesthetic is achieved by using gold leaf or powder in place of an actual sheet of gold. For metal to be considered and sold as vermeil, the following criteria must be met:

  • The base metal used is either sterling or fine silver (vermeil gold is sometimes referred to as silver gilt or gilded silver for this reason)
  • At least 10 karats of pure gold must be used
  • The layer of gold is 2.5 microns thick

If the above aren’t met, you can assume the piece is either gold-filled or gold plated, not vermeil.

How Is It Made? 

Not to be confused with gold plated, vermeil typically starts as fine or sterling silver before it's covered in gold through electrolysis. This process ensures the final result is a high-quality piece of jewelry. As with all jewelry, several factors will determine just how nice gold vermeil is, including which base metal was used, how thick the layer of gold is, and the quality of gold used.

How Do I Know It’s Gold Vermeil?

When buying gold vermeil, it is imperative you know your stuff and what to look for:

  • Price - Although a more affordable option than solid gold, gold vermeil is more expensive than sterling silver and gold plated jewelry. If the piece you are looking at is close in price to these items, there’s a good chance the quality isn’t great.
  • Discoloration - Look at the piece of jewelry carefully to make sure there isn't any discoloration or tarnishing. If there is, you can assume the level of gold purity is poor, and we wouldn't recommend buying it.
  • Check for a 925 stamp - This is a big one, as 925 is the hallmark for high-quality vermeil. Look closely at the item and check for the 925 mark, which tells us it's silver covered in gold.
  • Buy for a reputable jeweler - This one goes without saying, but you should always buy jewelry from a trustworthy source. We offer an extensive collection of gold pieces, all of which were designed and crafted with the most profound care and attention.

The Bottom Line

No, vermeil isn't solid gold, but it is a great and durable alternative that is both trendy and affordable. People with allergies to certain metals should also consider vermeil, as the sterling silver used is a pure metal that isn't as reactive as many other materials. Bonus? Gold vermeil is incredibly durable and won't tarnish or show any other blemishes, even if you wear it every day. There are many reasons vermeil has become so popular, but it comes down to personal preference. If you love the look of gold and are looking for a less expensive option that will withstand the test of time, vermeil may be for you.

Allie Wall