Gold Filled vs Gold Plated vs Vermeil – What is the difference?

What’s the difference between gold filled, gold plated, vermeil and pure gold?

14k Gold Filled: — Silvery’s choice — It is made of a base metal (usually brass or copper) covered by sheets of gold in a mechanical bonding process. Gold Filled jewellery contains at least 5% gold by weight. This is 100+ times more gold than gold plated jewellery! The coating of gold is thick which makes it last as long as 14k gold jewellery. Gold-filled items are usually used for top-of-the-line jewellery by designers who want the quality as well as the ability to provide a more affordable piece. It is safe for most people with sensitive skin or allergies and it won’t leave marks on your skin. Under normal wear and with the same care you would give any precious metal jewellery, 14K gold filled jewellery will not flake or peel. It is far more durable than plated jewellery and can be treasured for many years which makes gold filled jewellery an affordable alternative to 14K gold jewellery.

Gold Plated: A base metal such as copper, steel or brass is dipped into a bath of electroplating solution, with a lump of solid gold. When an electric current is applied, a thin layer of gold is deposited on the metal. Since the plating is quite thin, the plate, and therefore the colour, on the piece can wear off over time. This is a cheaper alternative to 14 karat gold jewellery and  still looks stunning. The layer of gold used for plated jewellery is very thin so extra care should be used to protect it from scratching and from the elements. Plating will tarnish after a while and would need to be re-plated in time.

​Gold Vermeil: — Silvery’s choice — Vermeil ( pronounced “ver-may”) jewellery is made from a base of sterling silver that has then been gold plated with a thicker coating, often as much as 50% thicker than a traditional gold-plated piece. This method is often used for jewellery, tableware or fine pieces of home decor. Vermeil is a good combination for those with allergies to normal, plated jewellery items. To the naked eye, it looks just like pure gold but is often less expensive and can be shined up to a gloss, or left to tarnish for a more vintage look. Also Vermeil Plating will wear off after time and would have to be handled with care.

14k & 24k Gold: Pure 100% gold is 24 karat gold. This means that 24 out of 24 parts are gold. Pure gold is not very useful for jewellery because it is too soft so it is alloyed with other metals in order to make it durable, cost effective or to effect colour. 14 karat gold is 14 parts gold to 10 parts alloy (14 + 10 = 24). 18 karat gold is 18 parts gold to 6 parts alloy (18 + 6 = 24), and so on until you reach pure gold at 24 karat. Depending on the colour of gold the other parts may be copper, silver, nickel, zinc, tin, palladium, and/or manganese.

Let’s face it…gold is pricey and it doesn’t get cheaper! If you just don’t have the budget or the inclination to spend lots of money on solid gold jewellery, 14k gold filled jewellery and Gold vermeil are wonderful alternatives to pure 24k gold.

We hope this helps all our customers to know what they are buying the next time they come shopping at Silvery. Keep an eye on our site for our consistently growing custom gold vermeil range.