The difference between Gold Vermeil and Gold-Filled

You’re wondering how Gold Vermeil and Gold-Filled are different? Is one perhaps better than the other? And what do both terms even mean? Does it actually mean a piece is filled with gold?? We hear these questions a lot. And we’re here to solve the mystery for you.

What is Gold Vermeil?

Essentially, Gold Vermeil is gold-plated 925 Sterling Silver. But once you take a closer look, you will see there it is a lot more. The main difference to standard gold plating is, there are legal requirements that need to be met to call a piece Vermeil. 

Standard gold plating can be any base with any thickness and quality of gold layer on top. Unfortunately, that means you often get items with a cheap base material and a super-thin gold coating. This layer can chip off or fade easily. - I still remember my first gold-plated necklace. I bought it for $60, and the chain showed large spots of the base metal after only a day of wear. A real bummer.  

With Vermeil, the thickness of the gold layer is legally regulated and has to be at least 2.5 microns. The base metal must be 925 Sterling Silver and therefore is perfect if you have sensitive skin. Furthermore, the quality of the gold used for the plating is required to be at least 10k (41.7% pure gold). 

What is Gold-Filled?

Despite the slightly misleading name, Gold-Filled is yet another way of gold plating. The base material usually is brass. Compared to basic gold-plating, the situation is similar to Vermeil. Gold Filled is legally regulated and guarantees you a high-quality standard.  

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) demands a certain minimum weight of the plated layer. So the thickness isn’t as important as it is for Vermeil. Instead, the FTC requires 10% of an item to be gold by weight for 10k(41.7% pure gold). For layers with the fineness of 12k (50% pure gold) or 14k (58,5% pure gold) gold, it must be at least 5% of the total item weight.  

For Gold-Filled items, the gold layer is mechanically bonded to the base metal using heat and pressure. The end product fulfills the respective physical and chemical properties of both metals used: brass and gold. Therefore it, too, is hypoallergenic. You can recognize Gold-Filled items by their stamp, beginning with GF. For instance, a 14k Gold Filled piece is marked with GF 14/20 -> 14k Gold, 1/20 gold by weight.

Gold Vermeil vs. Gold-Filled

We have put together the main features of Gold Vermeil and Gold-Filled Jewelry in a table to show the differences between both plating methods:

Gold Vermeil Gold-Filled
Gold Layer The thickness of the gold layer must be at least 2.5microns (All Goldmariie Vermeil pieces have a 5-micron layer) Depending on the quality of the gold alloy, the coating has to be 5% or 10% of the total item weight.
Base Layer 925 Sterling Silver Brass
Durability Rings: Depending on the thickness of the gold layer, Vermeil can last many years. - At Goldmariie, we do 5 microns to ensure the longevity of our jewelry. Necklaces, earrings, etc: many years as they are less exposed to external factors. Gold-Filled pieces usually will last for many years. Of course, all jewelry always should be handled with care to avoid scratches, bending, or other damages.
Is it hypoallergenic? Vermeil is hypoallergenic and an excellent choice for persons with sensitive skin Gold-Filled pieces are hypoallergenic as well. However, due to the brass base, there might be rare cases of skin reactions.
Manufacturing process Electroplating Heat and pressure bonding
Manufacturing cost Medium expensive to manufacture due to the quality of the materials used. Medium expensive to manufacture due to the more expensive manufacturing process.


With Gold Vermeil and Gold-Filled, there is no ultimate answer to the question of which one is better. Both are of high quality and significantly better than simple gold plating. 

The Silver base makes Gold Vermeil a lot more valuable and precious due to the quality of the materials used compared to regular gold-plating. However, it can rub off when worn during labor-intensive activities. Gold-Filled Jewelry also will last longer due to the specific process used to apply the gold layer to the base material. It is a question of personal preferences and how you intend to wear your jewelry, really: if you never take it off, Gold-Filled might be the right choice. If you are not wearing it during swimming or working out, Vermeil provides the best value for your money.


Why we decided on Vermeil at Goldmariie Jewelry

The answer is quite simple: we prefer authentic jewelry. We believe that authentic, beautiful gemstones deserve materials that do them justice. And this is achieved by using authentic, precious metal. Plus, jewelry that features natural gemstones like our Goldmariie Jewelry should be taken off during labor-intensive activities, exercising, or swimming to protect the crystals from scratching or discoloration. They require similar handling to Gold Vermeil, to ensure it will stay ever-gleaming and last a long time.  

For your reference: the price for 1 ounce of silver is approximately 200 times the price for the same amount of brass. That means, in buying Vermeil you always get a sufficient counter value for your money in terms of the processed materials. Some experts even think silver might become more valuable than gold in the future because silver is becoming rare. It’s already rarer than gold. To protect our mother earth’s resources, we use high-quality, 100% nickel-free, recycled 925 Sterling Silver in our products. The quality is the same as newly mined silver, but the environmental impact is many times smaller. 

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