Over the years gold has consistently been the most desired of precious metals. Traditionally in many parts of the world, the most exquisite pieces of jewelry have been fashioned out of 18k and 22k gold. In North America, 14k gold is the most widely used, for classic and elegant fashion accessories. Few people are actually aware of the complex process which puts rings on their fingers, chains around their necks and bracelets on their wrists even though almost everyone owns something made of gold. Recently Vermeil Gold (pronounced vermay) has made a huge comeback and has exploded on the fashion scene. Vermeil Gold or gold-plated jewelry used to have a tacky or cheap and disposable reputation; however this is no longer the case.
What it is… The standard definition of Vermeil Gold is having a base of sterling silver layered or plated with gold. The gold must be at least 10K and can go upwards to 24K; the layer of gold coating the silver base must be a minimum of 2.5 micrometers thick. The gold is applied through electrolysis. How this differs from gold plating is as follows: a base of a non-precious metal such as copper, steel or brass is dipped into a bath of electroplating solution, with a lump of solid gold. A thin layer of gold is deposited on the metal when an electric current is applied. Since the plating is rather thin, the layer of gold can wear off with regular use.
When it comes to choosing what to buy, gold vermeil is comparable to pure gold in appearance and craftsmanship. Because of its sterling silver base, gold vermeil is considerably more affordable than pure gold. People with nickel allergies or sensitivity to other metals can wear gold vermeil jewelry pieces comfortably and safely since gold vermeil by definition is not permitted to contain other metals.
In the 1800’s, gold plating was once a practical move by Georgians who set their family diamonds in gold-plated silver (vermeil) to prevent the silver from tarnishing their clothing. These days, the rise of gold prices coupled with fashion-driven trends such as layering jewelry, have once again helped boost the material’s appeal. Jewelers and designers have caught on to the Vermeil Gold trend as a substitute for solid gold. A decade ago the price of an ounce of gold was around $400 but has since quadrupled and jumped to up to $1,600 an ounce. Fashion savvy consumers who have become more price-conscious can benefit from the vermeil trend by having big name designers offer up to 40% of their jewelry line featuring Vermeil Gold jewelry.
Providing customers with a durability that is not available with regular gold-plated jewelry, Vermeil Gold is an excellent choice. The thicker layer of gold required in the process of making it provides extra protection against wear and tear that occurs during normal use, without having to spend extra the added cost found in gold jewelry. Quality Vermeil Gold can also last for generations without becoming worn.