What is Gold Vermeil
Gold Vermeil is a favoured option for many jewellery designers and consumers. The lower costs involved in its manufacture are appealing but more importantly, it allows designers to be bolder in their choices when creating high-quality jewellery. Pieces of exquisite design that may normally cost hundreds or even thousands are made readily available to those of us who appreciate craftsmanship while still remaining fiscally responsible. After all, when it comes to jewellery we are buying the skill of the hand and eye as well as the materials used.
What is gold vermeil?
In simple terms, vermeil describes a more adept form of gold plating beyond traditional filling. In cheaper productions, the base metals used are steel, brass and copper which are not only reactive to many people’s skin but also provide a poor surface for adhesion. This is particularly galling since the plating can often be rubbed off over time causing even more irritation to the skin and damage to the jewellery. Thankfully in cheap plating, the gold used is below 10 karats. Even in the case of gold filling, which does not rub off as easily, we can only expect a slight rise in karat and the continued use of reactive base metals. Vermeil is the only alternative that provides a non-reactive base and so allows for the use of a thicker layer of high-quality gold (usually between 14k-24k) at a minimum of 2.5 microns.
What are the advantages of gold vermeil?
The thicker layer of gold allows for a more robust finish which can be polished to a shine or left to tarnish for a more classic look. We are also seeing a lot of Vermeil which utilises both Hamilton and Pink gold as an alternative to classic Yellow. Once again the lower price tag is allowing for a more freeform approach to finishes, allowing consumers to build a diverse collection of quality gold jewellery without the traditional expense.
What is the difference between gold vermeil and traditional gold plating?
It is important to note however that Gold Vermeil is not gold. The high-quality finish produces wonderful pieces but since they are still a form of plating they can on occasion be mixed in with lower quality jewellery. The difference is down to the production and a process called micron plating. This process is superior to traditional flash plating. In flash plating, a piece is dipped in an electroplating solution and removed without checking. Micron plating measures the thickness of the gold precisely before and after application to ensure a quality finish.
Why is gold vermeil so popular?
As always it is important to maintain jewellery and vermeil is easily cleaned and very durable. The thicker layer of gold means that it is very difficult to rub off and as long as a piece is cared for properly it should last a very long time. The non-reactive core means that swimming pool chlorine and perfumes should not effect vermeil but in the truth, this is not why vermeil became popular. Beyond karats and manufacturing processes the real reason gold vermeil has propagated the market so well is that it is beautiful.
It is no coincidence that renaissance painters all started creating wonderful frescoes when they did. The base pigments of paints, the steel of chisels and the adoption of new technology in optics all spurred creativity and facilitated the creation of art we now regard with wonder. All art is a consequence of talent and technology and with the adoption of gold vermeil artists, designers and craftspeople all around the world are empowered by more accessible materials to create jewellery that we all covert. This opening of the market is truly exciting since the quality produced is getting better and better all the time and we can all look forward to the happy results.