What is Gold Vermeil? What is Gold Plated jewellery? What on earth is Gold Filled jewellery? And how are they different from 100% Gold?
Don’t panic! We can help you sort through this minefield of terms so you know exactly what you’re purchasing!
At Antonia Guise I design jewellery made in Gold Vermeil (I’ll explain I promise!), so as the Founder and Designer I know a lot about the key differences and what they really mean. So, if you’ve ever wondered why the costs of these different types of Gold jewellery vary so wildly then this is the article for you.
First thing’s first; what is 9 carat, 18 carat and 24 carat Gold jewellery? OK! So, this is obviously what it sounds like, all these pieces will be made with solid gold, and will be the most expensive jewellery you’ll find on the market. The second most common type of gold jewellery is gold plated. This means that the piece has been cast in a different metal and then plated with a small layer of gold on top to get the gold look. The main aim here is to create gold looking jewellery without the price tag of solid gold.
Back to solid Gold. The difference between 9,18 and 24 carat is purity, with 9 carat being the least pure. A ‘carat’ is the purity measure – there are 24 possible carats meaning that 24 carat is 100% pure gold and has no other metal mixed with it. 18 carat means it scores 18/24 on the purity scale, so contains some other metals. And 9 carat scores 9/24, so is mostly other metals mixed with gold. Gold is expensive, so as we go up the purity scale the more expensive the item will be.
Solid gold jewellery legally has to be Hallmarked before it can be sold in the UK. The hallmarking process tests the purity of the metal. If it passes the tests the Assay Office apply a stamp to the piece. This means that you can easily tell whether or not the piece is actually solid gold and what carat it is by it’s gold hallmark, but that’s a whole other article.
Gold plated jewellery is designed to look like gold for a fraction of the price. There are various different combinations of Gold plating. At the bottom end of the market there is brass plated in gold, this will be the cheapest as brass is extremely cheap. Then there is bronze plated in gold, and finally at the top end of the market there is Silver plated in gold, which is also known as Gold Vermeil.
The plating is done via electrolysis. A thin layer of gold (known as a micron) is applied to the surface of another metal using an alkaline gold plating solution and electricity. There can be up to 3 microns of plating per piece. The thicker the layer of gold, the more long lasting the plate is.
Gold plated jewellery will sometimes have a hallmark too. If it’s been cast in silver and then plated in gold and weighs over 11 grams the piece legally requires hallmarking the same as gold. However silver has a different mark from Gold – again a whole other article – which is how you can tell the difference.
The term Gold Filled generally only applies to chains. The term refers to the fact that the main body of the jewellery is sterling silver or base metal with a thin layer of gold bonded around it, using a different method to Gold Plating.
The main difference between the two main types of gold is in terms of day to day wear and tear. Solid gold won’t tarnish over time, it might become scratched, but generally won’t lose its shine.
Gold Vermeil pieces do tend to tarnish or oxidise over time as the silver underneath is exposed to oxygen in the atmosphere and water. It also might dull and the layer of gold wear off gradually, but the jewellery can always be re-plated and return to it’s original lustre. At Antonia Guise all our Gold Vermeil jewellery comes with a 3 year guarantee meaning we’ll cover any re-plating your piece may need.
The fact is that when it’s cared for properly most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between your solid gold ring and a gold vermeil one. It really comes down to what you’re looking for.
At Antonia Guise we work with both solid gold and gold vermeil. Our bespoke engagement rings are all made with 18ct gold and our ready to wear range is made of Gold Vermeil. If you have any questions regarding bespoke pieces then I’m always happy to help. Drop me an email and I’ll get back to you.