April 30th, 2022
A Simple Guide To Buying Gold Jewelry - Gold Plated, Gold-Filled and Gold Vermeil.
If you’re looking to buy gold jewelry, you’ve probably heard of the terms gold plated, gold-filled and gold vermeil thrown around by jewelers, and wondered what are the real differences between the types. This following guide will help you navigate your selection on the differences and the key factor to compare before you make any jewelry purchase!
WHAT IS GOLD?
First of all, it’s important to understand what exactly is gold. Gold is a type of precious metal that has been used in jewelry for centuries. The purest type of golf is 24k, meaning that 24 out of 24 parts of gold. However, as pure gold is too soft and malleable to use on jewelry, it is usually combined with other metal alloys to give its strength and durability and broken down as 18k, 14k, and 10k gold. Key point: the lower the carat (k), the less expensive as there are less gold contents.
1. What is Gold Plated Jewelry?
Gold-plating is a process where a thin minuscule layer of real gold is bonded onto a base metal by electroplating in a special chemical solution. The base metal varies between nickel, zinc, alloy, or brass and is commonly used for costume jewelry. While gold-plated jewelry is quite common in the jewelry world and is most cost-efficient to manufacture, it is disadvantaged with shorter longevity, usually only lasting up to 3 months when tarnishing begins. Gold-plated jewelry is also vulnerable to scratches from daily wear and tear, which can expose the brass metal.
Durability: up to 1 year and will tarnish quickly after
2. What is Gold-Vermeil Jewelry?
Gold vermeil is a premium form of gold-plated jewelry, where a layer of gold is plated on a sterling silver base metal using the same process as gold-plating. The price point is higher than plated jewelry due to its base metal material (sterling silver s925). Comparatively, gold vermeil is typically more durable than gold-filled jewelry as it is usually thicker than gold-plated jewelry, but not always so! The durability of gold-vermeil is actually based on the plating thickness- if the plating is thin, it will fade and tarnish inevitably too. It’s also a big misconception that gold vermeil jewelry won’t tarnish! Be wary of misleading information and keep in mind of the gold content when purchasing as gold vermeil may not always be high-quality.
Durability: Depending on the thickness of gold, it can last from a year up to two years.
3. What is Gold-Filled Jewelry?
The manufacturing process of gold-filled jewelry includes pressure and heat bonding multiple layers of solid 14k gold at extreme heat over a base metal, in our case, brass. Gold-filled jewelry has layers of gold alloy, rather than one external layer of gold like gold-plated and gold vermeil. Due to it’s complex process, gold-filled jewelry has a higher price-point than gold-plated jewelry. An industry standard gold-filled piece must have at least 5% of real gold content to it’s overall weight to be considered as gold-filled. Due to it’s thickness of gold, gold-filled jewelry is considered more water resistant and sensitive-skin friendly than plated or even vermeil jewelry! We consider gold-fill as the closest alternative to solid gold due to its longevity and gold-content.
Durability: If taken care of properly, can last up to years!
HOW SHOULD I CHOOSE?
Since you will be wearing the jewelry every day, it’s essential to find a piece that is comfortable, fits your style and most importantly, has a price tag you’re confident in. Here are 3 factors to consider when choosing the right piece for you:
1. Skin Sensitivity
It is important to know how your skin will react to the different metals such as copper, silver and brass as these materials may cause an allergic reaction. If you know you are reactive to nickel and zinc in gold-plated jewelry, or the copper in sterling silver, it is best to choose gold-fill.
The overall longevity and durability depends on the quality of the jewelry as well how you take care of your jewelry. Of the three, gold-filled jewelry would be more resistant to wear and tear than gold-plated and gold vermeil, especially in water, and should not fade or oxidise with proper care. You should always purchase from a reliable shop that clearly states their thickness of gold and research based on reviews online.
Gold-filled and vermeil jewelry tend to be on the high spectrum in terms of prices, while gold-plated is more affordable. If you are looking for jewelry that will become your staples and go-tos for a lifetime, we highly recommend gold-filled jewelry. Despite the higher price, you will be owning jewelry that is quality-made and with a durability that can last up for a lifetime.
Written by Michelle Chen
*This article does NOT contain any sponsored contents or affiliate links.*