What’s Vermeil vs Gold Plated Difference?


My girlfriend is a golden girl because she definitely knows how to wear eye-catching vermeil jewelry, cook delicious Italian food and so much more.

However, I’ve been asking myself if she’s aware that her stunning leaf necklace with matching earrings I bought her is gold vermeil and not gold-plated jewelry. 

Before we get into her response, let’s quickly clarify.

Gold vermeil jewelry distinguishes itself from gold-plated insofar that vermeil (glow in French) is a metal alloy made from 925 silver base and gold coating whereas gold-plated refers to any metal that can be covered with a gold layer. Further nuances separating the similar metal mixtures do exist.

Which similarities and differences can be observed when comparing vermeil versus gold-plated rings, bracelets, and other accessories is laid below step by step.

This way you can confidently make better jewelry buying decisions as well as take good care of the lovely pieces.

What Is Gold Vermeil vs Gold Plated?

To fully answer that question, let’s first define both metals on their own using a jewelry metal table with their material properties.

Vermeil vs Gold-Plated Chart: 5 Key Differences

Gold Vermeil Gold Plated
Made from sterling silver and gold layering Made from a metal (e.g. brass, copper, platinum etc.) and gold coating
Thick gold layer (2.5 microns) Thin or thick gold layer option
10-karat gold or above Any gold karat
Hypoallergenic Depending on the jewelry core hypoallergenic or allergic
looks like solid gold or pink gold Can look like gold, white gold, or any other possible color combination

As the vermeil vs gold-plated table above indicates, there are notable key distinguishing factors when evaluating these two sought-after metals for jewelry making.

5 Benefits and Drawbacks of Gold Vermeil

#1 Vermeil Advantage

The reason vermeil (pronounced ver-may) is trendy jewelry is easy to see. Firstly, it is quite difficult to separate it from a real gold pendant for the untrained eye. 

#2 Gold Vermeil Quality

Secondly, gold vermeil is, in comparison, generally a higher valued piece than its counterpart gold-plated jewelry.

This perceived value derives furthermore from the fact that to label vermeil for what it is, the vermeil promise ring or bracelet needs to possess a thick solid gold layer of a minimum of 2.5 microns.

Micron is a unit of length also known as micrometer and is the jewelry industry norm used to define (gold) metal thickness, whereby a micron (0.001) equals a millimeter. Any micron above 1 can be labeled as high or of good quality and anything below is inferior. 

#3 Gold Vermeil Value

In that sense, gold vermeil is intrinsical, not just perceived, of high gold value compared. Moreover, the gold karat of ten or above makes it, according to US American law, officially vermeil.

Any jeweler trying to sell you a collar necklace or similar and calls it vermeil, but it doesn’t possess the above necessary properties as formulated by US law can be, in that regard, liable for misuse of the word.

Durability and material quality are what the law is especially interested in when looking into vermeil standardization, and this is a good thing for jewelry consumers.

Despite the great esthetical, material, and legal benefits, vermeil is not perfect. 

#4 Vermeil Gold Disadvantage

Pure gold is not as affordable to everyone as vermeil. Therefore, no one should purchase a vermeil band that is practically overpriced by counterfeiting and falsely labeling it as fine gold jewelry.

The lower value of vermeil when placed next to real gold is only significant regarding gold trading at a pawnshop or when buying a piece of jewelry for yourself or significant other.

One of its few weaknesses of vermeil accessory is, gold vermeil is of course not real gold which the latter usually possesses a yellow hue and is extremely durable next to other pure gold qualities.

#5 Gold Vermeil Judgement

Other than that, gold vermeil is an excellent jewelry material choice, if not the best one, outside solid gold, of course. 

With these insider secrets of vermeil jewelry at your disposal, let’s now briefly look at gold-plated fashion accessories, how it stacks in comparison to vermeil before you shop, gift, or wear that outstanding stud, matinée, or diamond vermeil setting style. 

4 Benefits and Drawbacks of Gold Plated Jewelry

#1 Gold-Plated Jewelry Advantage

First, gold-plated chains or rings have the advantage over vermeil in that you have a bigger variety of jewelry to wear since they are no legal restrictions on how to make gold-plated pieces.

Typically, gold-plated items consist of any metal at the core. Then layered through a process called electroplating with gold, where the metal is dipped into a solution.

In short, gold-plating exists in so many ways and forms.

The goal of gold-plating is usually to give a jewelry piece some resemblance of fine gold without the attached price tag. Strictly speaking, even vermeil is gold-plating in the sense that 925 sterling silver base is plated with gold just like any other metal base.

In other words, whatever metal is used as a foundation, when it is getting coated with gold it is largely referred to as gold plating.

#2 Gold-plated Jewelry Monetary Benefits

Next to the variety of charms, earrings and so on you can purchase, gold-plated versus vermeil, as it is typically the cheaper material.

It makes sense, as the chart above illustrates, whereas for vermeil earrings for example you need sterling silver as a base metal.

With classic gold-plating, you can obviously skip that and choose any cheap metal like gold-plated brass designs.

The price advantages over vermeil make gold-plated pieces so attractive, and many jewelry buyers opt for that.

#3 Gold Plated Accessory Drawbacks

My girlfriend eats healthy (at least more than I do, oh my sweet cakes). Nevertheless, when it comes to skin irritations she is really sensitive and there might be a problem with gold-plated jewelry chokers, statement earrings, and so forth.

Since there are no requirements, like the government’s microns thickness jewelry guide on vermeil for the metal foundation when coated with real gold;

It leads to jewelry makers providing you and me with inferior fashion bracelets, bands, rings, etc.

From cheap brass gold-plated earrings to lariat pendants necklaces covered with gold but underlying nickel or copper metal.

Many people like my girlfriend are allergic to some of these, especially nickel. Yes, they are inexpensive, but this comes with a possible downside which vermeil, which is silver-based, doesn’t commonly possess.

I guess the saying is true here, that you can’t have everything.

#4 Gold plated Overall Value

There is a place for gold-plated trinkets as well as plated fine jewelry using the gold coating. The freedom of gold-plated versus vermeil is that you can get a beautiful, yet affordable gold-plated copper accessory.

Alternatively, you can obtain a 14K white gold piece with a precious metal like platinum as part of this exclusive jewelry composition.

Though truth be told, the fashion market offers more inexpensive gold-plated than gold vermeil-inspired items. 

On the other hand, the former tends to be the better priced and value choice when in doubt.

Will Gold Vermeil Tarnish?

Though gold vermeil is at least 2.5 microns thick, the gold coating may wear and tear over time. Especially when exposed to water, detergents, and other acids like perfumes or even your sweat. To avoid tarnishing while you keep the glow, wear, and store vermeil items safely in a jewelry box.

Which Is Better Vermeil Or Gold Plated? – (Conclusion)

A remarkable pure 24-karat pure gold engagement ring for her is only affordable for most when you sell your car or pawn your house, boat, etc.

However, and thankfully most people are sane enough and won’t sell their wheels or rooftop in exchange for a fine gold ring. Instead, you will either save for it or simply get a cheaper alternative.

Gold vermeil is such an alternative, as it really has the appearance of real gold for the average Joe and Jill, minus pure gold pricing.

Moreover, vermeil is in comparison to gold-plated jewelry durable though not as high value like solid 22K yellow gold for example.

A dazzling promise ring for him and her made from vermeil is nonetheless a buying argument you can be proud of and furthermore can usually afford without breaking the bank or selling all your assets.

My girlfriend loves her gold vermeil gift that much that if I’m lucky she’s going to make me real Sicilian lasagna soon again.

Hopefully, you are too by now inspired and knowledgeable enough on the significant differences between gold-plated and vermeil jewelry.

By the way, there is also gold-filled, which is another interesting part for smart consumers like you. Learn more about it here.

For now, you are fully informed. With that in mind, go ahead and get your favorite jewelry piece today and make yourself or someone happy.

Bill Dominic

Bill is an art history and business graduate. Moreover, he loves to test, compare, shop jewelry & fashion items for his 5 sisters, girlfriend, nieces when not enjoying a great novel.

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