July 20 2020 – Corrina Yome
Vermeil pronounced (vur-may), jewelry is a centuries-old metal that is quickly becoming a favourite of top jewelry designers around the world for its premium quality and sensible pricing.
Vermeil jewelry is an ideal choice if you love gold but are in the market for something more affordable.
You might be wondering, is gold vermeil for me? We have outlined everything you need to know about gold vermeil to help you decide including a care & maintenance guide.
What is Vermeil Jewelry?
Simply put, it is a combination of a thick layer of gold over high-quality sterling silver.
You can also find vermeil in other colours, such as rose gold.
Three main criteria need to be met in order for it to be considered vermeil:
1. The base metal must contain 92.5% sterling silver or 99.9% silver.
2. The purity of the gold must be at least 10 karats. Keep in mind that the more pure gold is, the softer it is, the less pure, the more durable. To make sure your gold vermeil can withstand the test of time, we recommend buying in the middle at 14K or 18K. Anything higher will be too soft and anything lower doesn’t offer you that rich gold colour.
3. The thickness of the gold coating must be at least 1.5 microns.
When these three standards are not met, then the metal becomes gold-filled or gold-plated. These are your other options when looking for gold jewelry along with solid gold.
Let’s talk a little bit about other gold jewelry options.
Unlike vermeil, gold-plated jewelry has no standard for base metal or for the thickness of the gold layer. There is a high probability that the gold finishing will wear out and chip over time because the gold coating can be very thin. When purchasing gold-plated jewelry it is good to know that they come in a variety of thicknesses and a range of varying base metals and alloys, especially for individuals with allergies or sensitivities to certain metals.
Gold-filled jewelry is hypoallergenic and in general does not tarnish. It is composed of a solid layer of gold that is mechanically bonded to a metal base. The metal base is usually jewelers' brass. Some products are made using sterling silver as the base, but because this is more costly it is not commonly used today.
Pure gold is too soft and malleable to wear in jewelry so the gold is alloyed with a mixture of metals like silver, copper and zinc. Solid gold jewelry is the most expensive and high quality option. It is durable, long-lasting and doesn’t tarnish.
Will Gold Vermeil Tarnish?
Tarnishing is a chemical reaction that occurs when the other metals that are mixed with the gold and silver in fine jewelry come into contact with air and other various substances such as lotions, perfumes and oils on the skin and cause it to darken.
The base metal used for making vermeil is sterling silver. Sterling silver is composed of 97.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals.
So in short, yes, gold vermeil can tarnish but the good news is that this darkening is only a thin layer on the surface of the metal and can easily be removed and returned to its original sparkle. With a little care and maintenance the tarnishing can even be prevented so your special piece will last for years to come.
Care & Maintenance
With care and a little maintenance, vermeil jewelry can keep sparkling through the years. Here are our top tips for how to clean and care for vermeil jewelry:
This ones at the top because it is so important! Exposure to moisture in the air can wear down your vermeil jewelry overtime and cause a reaction.
Follow these simple and easy storage tips and your vermeil jewelry will last a lifetime.
Tip 1: We provide anti-tarnish pouches for any vermeil piece over $80 along with an anti-tarnish tab. Simply store your special piece in the pouch along with the anti-tarnish tab for protection up to 12 months. Storing it in the pouch also helps to keep your jewelry safe from scratches and chips. You can purchase our anti-tarnish pouches here
Tip 2: Alternatively you can store your vermeil jewelry in a Ziploc bag, but you’ll want to make sure you get rid of as much air as possible before sealing it.
Tip 3: Whichever method you choose, the pouch or the Ziploc bag, ensure it is not stored near a heat source and doesn’t have any weight on it. This can cause discolouration and deformation.
Keep it Dry
One of the quickest ways to tarnish your jewelry is by contact with moisture and liquids. This includes lotions, hand washing, perfume and sweating.
To help keep your vermeil jewelry dry:
→ Wait at least 5 minutes after applying lotions or perfumes before putting on your special piece.
→ Avoid wearing your jewelry in chlorinated pools or hot tubs. Not doing so can cause discolouration.
→ Remove any jewelry that may come in contact with household cleaners when cleaning.
→ Even the PH levels in your sweat can cause a reaction with your vermeil jewelry so never wear your jewelry when exercising.
Clean It Carefully!
Clean with CARE! Cleaning vermeil jewelry takes special care not to rub off the outer layer of gold leaving the silver underneath visible.
Here is what we recommend:
✯ If you need to wash your vermeil jewelry, use lukewarm water and a soft liquid soap. Avoid harsh chemicals and detergents.
✯ Dip your piece into the soapy water and, using your fingers gently rub away any dirt or debris. Rinse with plain water and gently pat dry.
✯ Do not use a brush or coarse fabrics to clean vermeil jewelry as this can potentially scratch the surface.
✯ If you notice a little tarnishing you can try using a jewelry cloth to remove the dark spots if washing it didn’t do the trick. A jewelry cloth is pre-treated with special chemicals to help remove the tarnishing. But, be CAREFUL! Using it too much can actually remove the gold plating. Avoid rubbing too hard when using it, as this can also cause the top layer to rub off. The cloth's special polishing and cleansing action works until the cloth is completely darkened. Do not wash the cloth. If you are looking to purchase a jewelry cloth we have them available for purchase here
✯ If you notice hard-to-reach areas where dirt has built up or are having trouble removing tarnishing with the cleaning methods we have recommended, it’s best to have your special piece professionally cleaned. They have special tools to get the job done!
Now That You Know…
Gold vermeil is a great alternative to solid gold jewelry. It gives you all the sparkle and shine of gold at an affordable price. With a little care and maintenance it can last for years to come.
If you think vermeil jewelry is right for you, be sure to check out our custom collections to create memories that will last a lifetime at Tiny Zen Memory