Gold vermeil plating is the process of bathing jewellery in gold and has a long history stretching back to the 1800s. If you’re considering a gold necklace, earrings, or bracelet and are curious about whether gold vermeil plated jewellery is right for you, we’re here to help. Read on for our guide to gold vermeil plating, including its unique characteristics, and how to care for your new treasure.
What is gold vermeil plating?
A gold vermeil plating is a layer of gold that’s bound to the outside of sterling silver jewellery. The technique dates back to the nineteenth century and is a more affordable option compared to solid gold, but gleams just as brightly.
It’s made by placing the sterling silver jewellery into a chemical solution that contains gold particles. An electric current is then passed through the solution, which attracts the gold and binds it to the jewellery piece. This creates a gold coating across the surface of the silver—this is the vermeil plating.
Is a gold vermeil plating the same as a standard gold plating?
No, not quite! Standard gold plating uses the same process as gold vermeil plating, but with a couple of differences.
Firstly, standard gold plating applies a gold layer to less expensive base metals (such as copper or brass) in order to create a more affordable option. A gold vermeil plating refers specifically to the process of adding gold to sterling silver—not any other type of metal.
Secondly, to describe something as gold plated, you need only add a gold layer that’s 0.5 microns thick—compared to 2.5 microns for gold vermeil platings. So gold vermeil plated jewellery has a thicker coating and more gold content, which means it lasts longer and makes it more durable (as well as more valuable).
In short, a gold vermeil plating gives a higher value piece of jewellery—not only in terms of the thickness of the gold layer, but also the metal that’s hiding underneath.
How long does gold vermeil plated jewellery last?
A gold vermeil plating is more durable than a standard gold plating due to the extra thickness of the gold layer. With proper care and infrequent wear, your gold vermeil plated rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets can last for years. However, if you plan to wear your piece frequently (especially rings) then you might need to re-plate your jewellery up to two or three times a year.
How should I care for my gold vermeil plated jewellery?
1. Keep it clean
For daily cleaning, you can gently polish your gold vermeil plated jewellery with a microfibre cloth (not a silver polishing cloth!)—just like the ones that come in your sunglasses case. These are gentle enough that they won’t leave scratches or degrade the gold coating on your jewellery.
If it needs a more thorough clean, you can use normal washing up liquid and lukewarm (not hot) water. Rather than submerging your jewellery, you should wet the same microfibre cloth mentioned above, and use it to very gently clean the gold surface. When you’re done, use a fresh cloth dipped in plain water to clean off any residual soap, and pat dry.
2. Keep it away from liquids
It’s a good idea to remove your gold vermeil plated jewellery before applying things like moisturisers, perfumes and hand sanitiser. As a general rule, your jewellery should be the last thing you put on in the morning, and the first thing you take off at night: spritz your perfume, put on your jewellery, and then walk out the door.
3. Remove it before certain activities
If you’re about to do anything that may scratch or knock your jewellery, it’s best to take it off first. This is particularly true of rings, which are much more likely to come into contact with rough surfaces. If you’re about to lift a dumbbell at the gym, use harsh chemicals to clean the house, or swim in the sea, best to remove your gold vermeil plated jewellery before you start.
4. Store it away from jewellery made from other materials
When you’re not wearing them, store your rings, necklaces or bracelets in a clean, dry place away from your other jewellery. Keeping your gold vermeil plated jewellery in a separate bag, cloth or pouch will protect it against bumps and scrapes, ensuring the gold layer doesn’t get damaged.
What sorts of jewellery can I buy with a gold vermeil plating?
This is a super versatile finish that can be applied to all jewellery. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out Pearls & Pomegranates’s gold vermeil plated collection to get started.