What Is Gold Vermeil?
Vermeil is one of the most popular alternatives to real gold. It’s made from gold-plated sterling silver.
Because silver is a less expensive material, plating it in gold allows retailers to sell it at a lower cost than the real thing. So, buyers can purchase “gold” jewelry at less than half the cost.
In most cases, the difference between the two materials is invisible to the naked eye. A veteran jeweler may be able to identify it by oxidation patterns, but it looks just like regular gold to most people.
Vermeil and Durability
While real gold and vermeil look similar, they’re very different in terms of durability. Silver is far less durable than gold, and silver is the primary material used in vermeil production.
Thus, it tends to deteriorate much quicker than the authentic material.
Unfortunately, the gold layer is purely cosmetic. It doesn’t add any strength. Over time (like decades), it crackles off and exposes the silver underneath.
Markings for Vermeil and Gold-Plated Jewelry
Gold and vermeil look so similar that jewelers actually developed markings to differentiate them.
This makes it easier for jewelry retailers to identify the material if a seller ever brings them a piece of material.
If you have a piece of jewelry and you’re wondering whether or not it’s made from real gold, look for one of these markings:
Those markings all denote a gold-plate. If it has one of these markings, your jewelry is made from vermeil.
Also, some vermeil jewelry is marked with a standard silver purity value. This is a number that denotes how much silver is in the piece.
When a ring is marked “875”, for example, it means that 87.5% of the ring is silver. The remaining 12.5% is attributed to its gold plate.
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