The real difference between gold filled, vermeil, plated and solid gold jewellery.
There are so many different options in the jewellery market today that it can be difficult to know what the best options are. Here is an explanation of the different terms and what they mean.
Gold is one of the most expensive commodities in the world and the price of solid gold jewellery reflects this. The purity of gold is measured in karats, the higher the karat the purer the gold. In its purest form, which is 24k gold, it is too soft for most uses and for that reason it is mixed or alloyed with other metals such as silver or copper. This hardens the gold and makes jewellery more durable. The addition of different alloys also changes the colour of the gold, 24k gold is a rich warm colour whereas 14k has a lighter golden hue. Rose gold has more copper alloy added to it to create that pink colour.
The most popular types of gold used for jewellery are 9k, 14k and 18k. The benefit of buying solid gold jewellery is that it will last a lifetime and longer, often becoming heirlooms, is resistant to tarnish and can be melted down/recycled and made into new pieces.
Gold filled jewellery is made from thick layers of gold bonded over a base metal such as jewellers’ brass. In order for it to be deemed gold filled it must contain a certain percentage of solid gold and by US standards this must be 1/20 of the items weight and should equal 5% pure gold. For this reason, gold fill is the next best option to solid gold, it is safe for sensitive skin and will last much longer than gold plating.
Gold vermeil is another affordable alternative to solid gold jewellery and for a piece to be considered vermeil it must fit the following criteria: The base metal must be sterling or fine silver, it must be plated in at least 10k gold and the thickness of gold applied to the piece must be at least 2.5 microns. As sterling silver is used as a base it makes vermeil jewellery hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin and due to the heavy plating of gold, it is more durable than standard gold plating.
Gold plating refers to a very thin layer of gold applied to a base metal. There is no restriction on what metals can be used and unless the base metal is stated by the manufacturer this may make the piece unsafe for sensitive skin. The general thickness of gold applied to the piece of jewellery is 0.5 microns, a lot less than gold filled or vermeil, which means the gold could wear quickly. The benefit of gold plating is you get the look of gold with generally a cheaper price tag but are not guaranteed the higher quality of the other options.
At Ash Flynn Jewellery we currently use gold filled and gold vermeil in the making of our pieces and we hope to add solid gold in the near future. We use these processes and materials as they are high quality while still being affordable and they are suitable for sensitive skin. We would love to hear from you if you have any questions about any of the materials we use to create our beautiful pieces. You can contact Ash through social media or firstname.lastname@example.org.