What is Vermeil?

There are a variety of gold and gold-plated metals used in jewelry, and even more variety in their price points. Here at Corey Egan, we work in solid 14 or 18 karat gold, as well as 14k vermeil. But what exactly makes up vermeil jewelry? Let’s cover that today.

Three vermeil necklaces layered on the neck of a model wearing a maroon wrap topThe Vermeil and Diamond Crystal Fragment Necklace and the Medium Helios Necklace paired with the gold rise necklace.

What is Vermeil?

Vermeil jewelry is created when a thick layer of gold is bonded over a sterling silver base through the process of electroplating.

Our vermeil pieces start as the exact same piece we sell in solid sterling silver, but they go through the extra step of then being plated with a layer of 14k gold.

Large Lucia diamond dangle earrings in Vermeil

In order for jewelry to be classified as vermeil, the plating must meet a minimum thickness of 100 millionths of an inch, or 2.5 microns. How do we know our plating meets this magic number? Our platers use X-ray fluorescence testing to verify each piece meets the required thickness.

The Large Helios Necklace in Vermeil

What’s the difference between Vermeil and gold plated or gold-fill jewelry?

It’s what’s inside that counts!

Ok… it’s not the only difference. But for starters, vermeil jewelry is always sterling silver at its core.

The Small Helios Hoops in Vermeil

Gold plated and gold fill jewelry are created using base metals instead of silver. Usually these are brass, copper, or sometimes nickel for gold-plated jewelry.

Gold plated jewelry doesn’t require the minimum thickness for classification like vermeil, so it can be a gamble as to how thick that gold layer really is.

Gold-fill is a bit more standardized in it’s gold content. Despite its name, is not actually filled with gold. Rather, the base metal of brass of copper is heat bonded to a sheet of gold, and the end result is about 5% gold to other metals.

Large Lucia Diamond Necklace in Vermeil

Why choose vermeil jewelry?

It really comes down to price! Vermeil has the look of luxurious yellow gold, with a price point that is closer to sterling silver. This can mean a big cost savings for larger pieces that might be cost-prohibitive for the buyer in gold.

It’s also good to remember that vermeil jewelry is made of two precious metals, not a base metal. So its more covetable than gold-fill or gold plated items.

Flash Necklace in Vermeil

How does Vermeil Wear over time?

On the whole, vermeil jewelry resists tarnishing better than sterling silver. However, with that silver at its base, tarnish can sometimes creep through. This is more likely to happen if you get your jewelry wet or live in a very humid environment. You can remove the tarnish using our recommended jewelry cleaner or this at home method.

Crystal Fragment earrings with diamonds in vermeil

Vermeil earrings and vermeil necklaces wear beautifully over time, but on high-touch surfaces like rings and some bracelets, you are likely to see the plating wear off much faster. If you’ve noticed that I don’t offer my rings in vermeil, that’s why! I recommend saving up for solid gold for your rings. Or in the case of bracelets, I would opt for yellow bronze if solid gold is too pricey. 

The Flicker Earrings in Vermeil

Is vermeil or solid gold right for me?

As a designer, I love offering vermeil pieces for the collectors who love the look of gold jewelry but a lower price point. I find that my collectors who purchase vermeil like to have lots of options in their jewelry box and often change their jewelry with their mood and their outfits.

But my customers who tend to wear their staple items and never take them off? For those clients, solid gold is the better option, if only for the fact they can get it wet without worry of tarnish.

About the Author

As a long-time jewelry designer, I love the process of sculpting, engraving, and setting everything by hand. Through my exploration of texture-driven techniques and organic shapes, I hope you can feel my passionate energy and intention behind every piece.

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About the Jewelry

Inspired by organic silhouettes, textures, light, and shadows for the collector with an eye for natural beauty.

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About the Studio

Every piece is dreamed up and brought to life in my sunny Berkeley, California studio! You’re welcome to make an appointment to do a little in-person shopping and try things on.

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