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What Is Vermeil?

Whether you realized it or not, you’ve probably come across vermeil jewelry before. Even so, you’re not alone if you’re still asking, “What is vermeil?”

Also known as vermeil gold, gilt silver, or gilded silver, vermeil is a specific type of gold plating. The process involves plating sterling silver or fine silver with a layer of gold that is at least 10 karats and 2.5 microns thick. To determine what is vermeil and what is not, you must know the base metal, gold thickness, and gold quality of a piece. A quicker and easier way to identify vermeil is by looking for the number 925. This marking means that the jewelry is 92.5% silver, so when you see it on a gold piece, you can assume it’s vermeil.

Vermeil is a quality choice relative to standard plated jewelry, offering the look of gold at a lower price tag than pure gold pieces. However, there are also disadvantages to vermeil, which many consumers find disappointing. For shoppers on a budget, it can be better to opt for real gold and perhaps own fewer pieces. At Marion Cage, we have steered away from vermeil, offering lower priced gold items and mixed metal pieces instead. Learn more about vermeil, its pros and cons, tips for buying, and potential alternatives below.

At Marion Cage, we're happy to answer all your questions online or in our retail gallery space, pictured here. Learn what is vermeil and what is not, its pros and cons, tips for buying, and potential alternatives.

The Pros of Vermeil Jewelry

When gold color is a must-have but the budget is tight, vermeil satisfies both requirements without sacrificing as much quality as plated jewelry that isn’t vermeil. Due to the thickness of its gold layer, vermeil plating lasts longer than other plated jewelry. Vermeil is also more tolerable to sensitive skin than regular gold plated jewelry because of its silver base and thick gold coating.

The Cons of Vermeil Jewelry

Any metal plating can and eventually will wear off. While vermeil lasts longer than most other plated jewelry, over time the silver underneath will start to show through. We have also encountered vermeil pieces with visible cracks in the plating and layers of gold peeling off. These issues can occur if a piece was not perfectly polished and cleaned before plating or if it gets dinged or bent.

Tips and Alternatives

When buying vermeil, it’s best to stick to earrings or pendants, because the plating will last longer on items that have less direct contact with your skin. Rings, on the other hand, will quickly show signs of wear, and the gold color will soon become compromised. Vermeil has its advantages, but it doesn’t last. If you want the benefits of a beautiful gold color, we recommend purchasing solid gold, especially for rings.

Solid gold rings, such as this Swell Stacking Ring from Marion Cage, provide a much better value than vermeil gold jewelry.Swell Stacking Ring in 14k yellow gold

For shoppers on a budget, we recommend these tips:

  • Choose smaller gold pieces, such as these Tiny Sliver Studs in 14k yellow gold.
  • Consider lower karat purity. Many of our rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets are available in 14k gold.
  • Buy mixed metal pieces, such as our Chinese Zodiac Charms in 10k gold with oxidized silver chains or our Clover Necklace in 14k yellow gold on an oxidized chain.
  • Purchase fewer pieces, prioritizing quality over quantity.

Mixed metal pieces, such as this Clover Necklace in 14k yellow gold on an oxidized chain from Marion Cage, are a great way to save money will still getting the benefits of real gold jewelry.
Clover Necklace in 14k yellow gold on an oxidized chain

At Marion Cage, we offer gold jewelry in a range of karat purities to meet your needs. We also carry a variety of styles in our line that mix silver, oxidized silver, or black rhodium plated silver with accents of 14k gold. These mixed metal pieces keep the price relatively low while still offering you all the advantages of gorgeous, high-quality gold.

Shop Marion Cage Today

Check out more Marion Cage exclusive designs and shop today! You can shop online or in person at 3807 Magazine Street in New Orleans, LA. If you visit our retail gallery in New Orleans, be sure to take a look at the Rodger Stevens exhibition of sculptural jewelry, on display now through October 6, 2018. Learn more about this artist and exhibition here.

If you have any questions about what is vermeil or would like to hear more about the lower priced gold jewelry currently in our inventory, contact Marion Cage online or call us at 504-891-8848.