Gold plated, gold vermeil, gold-filled, what does it all mean Basil!? Austin Powers jokes aside, this is an important question when purchasing jewelry. Hopefully, by providing you with a little insight into the key differences behind these types of pieces you can make an informed decision as to what type you are looking for.
Gold plated jewelry is jewelry that has a base metal such as copper or brass and then is coated in a thin layer of gold. Gold plated jewelry is not water-resistant and is not made to last forever, though it is a great option for those of us that like to have variety in our closet.
Gold Vermeil or silver-gilt is considered to be demi-fine jewelry that is hypoallergenic. This type of jewelry is achieved when a thick layer of gold (typically 2.5 microns) is plated on top of a sterling silver base. Like gold plated jewelry, gold vermeil is not water-resistant, it can however last for years with proper TLC.
Gold-filled jewelry is jewelry that has a solid gold layer bonded to a metal base such as sterling silver. The layer of gold typically makes up 5% of the item's total weight. This type of jewelry is water-resistant and made to withstand everyday wear. Gold-filled jewelry will last longer than both plated and vermeil due to the thicker layer of gold and the way it is manufactured.
Below is a little infographic to help explain further:
The quality within each of the above categories can also vary depending on whether it's 14k, 18k, or 24k gold (24k having the highest gold content) and the life expectancy for all largely depends on the wearer!
Each one of these options provides something for everyone's taste and budget. Now with the knowledge to feel confident in your decision, it's time to shop!