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 are a fashion lover and you pay attention to jewelry trends, 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 with a slight emphasis on the y such that it lingers at the end) that means silver plated with gold. To the naked eye, vermeil looks like gold. That's why it's such a great alternative if you are looking for something similar to solid gold. Its thinner than most other types of gold, which makes it lighter. Moreover, 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 criteria 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 binds the metals together and ensures the final result is a high-quality piece of jewelry. As with all jewelry, several factors determine just how flawless gold vermeil is. These include which base metal is 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, you must know what to look for so that you get the best quality and long-lasting vermeil possible. So make sure you know the details of the composition of any gold vermeil jewel you're reviewing.


Although a more affordable option than solid gold, gold vermeil is more expensive than sterling silver and gold plated jewelry. That’s because the core within gold plated jewelry is made from cheaper metals, usually copper or bronze. Then, the outside layer of gold is much thinner than for gold vermeil.

So, if the price of the piece you're looking at is closer to gold plated options, there’s a good chance the quality isn’t great. Then again, you should also keep in mind possible scams, especially when it comes to the quality of gold in your vermeil.


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 because 925 is the hallmark for high-quality gold vermeil. Look closely at the item and check for the 925 stamp. This is what tells you that the silver is covered in gold. More specifically, it means that the piece is made up of 92.5% silver with the rest in gold.

Moreover, different countries have various regulations for how thick the gold must be. To give you an idea, in France, which is where vermeil comes from, you can expect 18 carat gold leaves around your silver piece. On the other hand, the US regulations describe a minimum of 14 carats. Although, there’s nothing stopping you from demanding higher quality from your gold vermeil.

Buy from 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, vermeil and silver pieces. All of these are designed and crafted with the most profound care and attention. We guarantee exceptional quality and originality of design.

Why is Vermeil So Special?

Gold has fascinated people since at least 4000BC when it was where it was used to make decorative objects in Europe. It was the Ancient Egyptians though who first used gold an official token for the exchange of goods around 1500BC. Then, fast forward to the French goldsmiths in the 18th Century to find vermeil. They essentially discovered a more effective way of embellishing silver with gold.  by using mer and you get vermeil. Today, even Olympic medals are made of vermeil!

Gold vermeil jewelry is increasingly popular because of its long-lasting qualities. Also, many people are allergic to plated gold because its made with impure base metals. Another added advantage is that gold vermeil is lighter than pure gold. This is a hidden blessing when it comes to earrings.

It’s worth also noting that gold vermeil is a precious metal. Therefore, even though it can be more cost effective than pure gold, you’re still buying something special. After all, you’re getting solid silver with a thick layer of the best quality gold leaves possible and state-of-the-art workmanship.

What Does Gold Vermeil Mean?

The gold vermeil meaning is enveloped in history. It actually comes from the Latin word vermis which means worm. Then, with time, the French language morphed it into the words vermeil and vermillion. That’s because  the French goldsmiths first used mercury in their process to make vermeil. This gave it a bright red vermillion shine, just like the dyes that came from the worm-like insect, the chochineal.

So, next time you wear your gold vermeil jewelry, you can imagine the centuries of time that came before and that will continue to come. Isn’t it beautiful to be part of such a fabric of human invention and to pass that on in your family? It’s almost more special than pure gold. After all, it took centuries of trial and error to transform the vermeil precious metal into your gold vermeil jewelry.

Gold Plated vs Vermeil vs Gold Filled

Don't worry if you find the terminology confusing. That's because there are actually only 4 different types to remember, in descending order of price: pure gold, gold vermeil, gold filled and gold plated. 

When comparing gold vermeil vs gold plated, simply note that vermeil uses pure silver for the core. On the flip side, gold plated uses copper or bronze. Also, the thickness of the gold is smaller at 3 microns versus at least 5 microns for vermeil.

On the other hand, gold vermeil vs gold filled has a similar gold thickness. Although, gold filled usually has 14 carat gold to cover the copper or bronze. Vermeil gold though, uses 18 carat gold which also means it doesn’t tarnish. The less pure gold is, the more likely it will tarnish.

Last but not least, of course you can always buy pure gold jewelry which is as durable as gold vermeil jewelry. Nevertheless, the price isn’t quite the same. Moreover, if history and human workmanship is your thing then perhaps gold vermeil offsets itself as slightly more unique.

What is Gold Vermeil Jewelry?

Like any other precious metal, gold vermeil is for any jewelry.  This includes chains, rings, bracelets, necklaces and many more. We all know how personal jewelry can be though. So, why not even talk to your jeweler and see what custom designs they have that could suit you?

The Hottest Trends

Whether you’re trying to complete an outfit or simply trying to jazz up your look, there’s something about unique and well-crafted designer jewelry. We pride ourselves on offering ageless classics like the herringbone chain whilst also offering you something just for you. Some people favor anklets and others want mismatched earrings. Whatever it is, you'll find your dreams answered with our gold vermeil collection such that you can find something to wear forever. 

Does Gold Vermeil Tarnish and How to Look After Your Gold Vermeil?

Generally, no vermeil does not tarnish. Having said that, everything wears and gets dirty. That’s why it can helpful to clean your gold vermeil jewelry with a toothbrush and soapy water. Once you’ve dried it with a non-abrasive cloth, you can then give it extra shine by polishing it with a shammy cloth. This porous leather cloth is perfect for getting some extra shine from your gold vermeil jewelry. Either way, just like any jewelry, gold vermeil jewelry needs care and attention if you want it to shine forever.

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. That's because it uses pure sterling silver 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. After all, vermeil is harder and longer-lasting. You can therefore enjoy your jewelry for as long as you like. Perhaps you can even consider passing it onto your daughters and their daughters? Why not start the memories of a lifetime?