I love solid gold jewelry. It’s a worthwhile investment given how long-lasting it is. But, I don’t always love the price tag. Budget-friendly alternatives (other than costume jewelry) are gold plated and gold vermeil.
Is gold vermeil better than gold plated?
Yes. In fact, almost all of my dainty gold rings are solid gold or vermeil for this reason! Gold vermeil is made with precious metals such as sterling silver and heavily plated with gold to ensure long-lasting wear. “Vermeil” is a French word and pronounced “vehr-may.”
The base metal is sterling silver, contains at least 41.7% gold content, and the old plating is at least 2.5 microns thick, according to the Federal Trade Commission. (A micron is 1/1000th of a millimeter.)
Does gold vermeil jewelry tarnish?
In short, yes. Unfortunately, gold vermeil can wear off after heavy use. But, by taking good care of your vermeil pieces, the gold plated layer can last for years because of its thickness.
Is gold jewelry still in style?
Delicate gold and silver jewelry has been in vogue for the past several years and isn’t going away anytime soon. Though solid gold jewelry is beautiful, gold vermeil jewelry is a budget-friendly alternative “dupe” and looks just as nice and is also long-lasting if you properly care for it.
Some of my favorite gold vermeil pieces are from Aurate, a brand that sells 14k and 18k recycled solid gold rings, which will last for generations to come. Solid gold is guaranteed to never tarnish, so you never have to take it off and you can wear it in water. Vermeil requires a bit more care.
What color gold is vermeil?
- Yellow gold vermeil is the most common color for vermeil. It’s classic and sophisticated. It’s made with yellow gold and has a warm, golden color that is similar to solid gold.
- Rose gold vermeil is a pink or coppery color and made with rose gold. It is often described as romantic or feminine.
- White gold vermeil has a silver or platinum color and is made with white gold. It is often described as modern or elegant.
Is gold vermeil hypoaltergenic?
While individual sensitivities may vary, gold vermeil jewelry, like solid gold jewelry, sterling silver jewelry, and stainless steel jewelry, is generally considered to be hypoallergenic. This means the metals used minimize the risk of allergic reactions. So, people with sensitive skin (like myself) can usually wear these types of metals for extended periods of time without any issue.
I have always had issues with costume jewelry (also called fashion jewelry) because it’s made of low-quality materials. It’s an inexpensive alternative to fine jewelry because it’s made with base metals, such as brass, nickel, aluminum or copper. These metals tarnish easily and very often cause irritation or allergic reactions. So, I prefer to invest in quality metals that I can wear all day.
How do you take care of vermeil jewelry?
To keep vermeil jewelry tarnish free, you must care for it and store it properly. Avoid contact with harsh chemicals, lotions, perfumes, and cleaning agents, all of which can accelerate tarnishing. Store your vermeil jewelry in a dry and clean place, away from moisture and air exposure.
Can you get gold vermeil jewelry wet?
Vermeil jewelry is more durable and resistant to wear and tarnish than lesser quality gold-plated jewelry. However, it’s still important to be mindful when exposing it to water and moisture. A small amount of exposure to water is generally not harmful, but prolonged or frequent contact with water can potentially damage the jewelry over time. Here are some guidelines to follow:
- Avoid prolonged exposure to water, such as swimming, showering or sweating during a long workout session can potentially weaken the adhesive that binds the gold layer to the base metal or cause tarnishing.
- Avoid harsh chemicals, soaps, and cleaning agents for the same reason. It’s always best to remove your jewelry before these types of exposure.
- Brief contact with water, such as when washing your hands or getting caught in the rain is fine. But, try not to allow the jewelry to stay wet. Removing it or drying it off is always best.
How do you clean gold vermeil jewelry?
To keep your gold vermeil jewelry sparkling, clean it regularly to wash away dust, dirt and traces of chemicals from lotions, perfumes, hair products, body oils or pH levels, all of which may cause your jewelry tarnish. It is recommended that you deep clean your pieces before storing your them for an extended period of time. Be sure to clean them should you notice any evidence of oxidation. Tarnish becomes darker, harder to remove and comes back more frequently the longer it sits.
Here’s the simplest way to clean your gold vermeil jewelry:
- Combine 1-2 drops of dish soap with lukewarm water in a bowl. Whisk until bubbly.
- Place your jewelry in the bowl for 5-10 minutes allowing it to soak.
- With a soft bristle brush, gently clean the hard to reach areas on your pieces (like in between the gemstone settings and chains). *Sustainability tip: reuse an old clean toothbrush for this. The bristles are usually soft.
- Place your jewelry in a separate bowl of clean water (without soap) to rinse it.
- Finally, use a microfiber cloth to pat it dry. You can use any soft cloth, but microfiber is especially soft and absorbent.
One trick I learned from my mother is to store sterling silver jewelry and gold vermeil jewelry in small plastic bags with a silica gel packet (which can be purchased, but also come in vitamin bottles and countless other things you probably have around the house) and/or a piece of paper towel. Both will absorb any moisture in the bag and help keep your jewelry inside tarnish free!
I hope you find these tips helpful!
Main image by The Street Sensei for dapperQ’s new book dapperQ Style: Ungendering Fashion, that I am featured in.