Here at Rachael Ryen we strive to offer our customers as much information as possible about the jewelry you're purchasing. One of the most common questions we hear is "what is the difference between gold-filled and gold vermeil jewelry?" So today we're passing along our knowledge about this topic with the hope we can help make your buying decision a little easier.
First, Gold-Filled jewelry is not the same as Gold Vermeil. We've seen jewelry designers interchange the terms "Gold-Filled" and "Gold Vermeil" and want to stress that these are two very different processes in the world of jewelry manufacturing. They also result in two different products of different price points and durability.
The easiest way to define what gold-filled jewelry is would be to first address what it is not. Gold-Filled jewelry is not plated. Making gold-filled requires heat and solid sheets of gold. The manufacturer starts with a sheet of base metal, most often jeweler’s brass. Then they add a layer of solid gold sheet over the brass, heat and press together to both layers fuse to one another. If the material is double clad, this process will be repeated on the other side of the brass so the entire sheet has an external layer of gold bonded to it. The final products are sold in sheets or wire.
In the US, the Federal Trade Commission requires items sold as “gold-filled” contain a minimum of 5% gold. Most gold-filled material is 12 karat or 14 karat gold-filled and will be stamped 1/20 12kt GF or 1/20 14kt GF respectively. Gold-filled is not to be marketed or called "gold" as its not solid.
Since gold-filled material has an actual layer of solid gold on its exterior, the material can hold up for years even if worn daily. To keep your gold-filled jewelry looking new, simply wipe with jewelry polishing cloth. Ammonia is also helpful in keeping a brilliant shine.
What do we use that is gold filled? Components found in all Rachael Ryen fashion jewelry pieces are made with 14k gold including our chains, jump rings, claps and ear wires.
Gold Vermeil (pronounced ver-MAY) has a base of sterling silver, often seen stamped as “925”. This base metal is then coated with at least 2.5 microns of gold that is 10 karat purity or more. All of our gold vermeil pieces are 14 karat or greater. While vermeil is a plated metal, its much thicker and more durable than items labeled “gold plated” or “gold dipped” which have, on average, 75% less gold in terms of thickness.
With any gold plated items, special care should be used to keep your pieces looking new longer. Always remove your jewelry before showering, swimming, exercising or any activity which will expose it to water. To clean your vermeil jewelry, we recommend a mild liquid silver polish Simply follow the directions on the bottle, but never submerge gemstones in the solution (its best to apply with a cotton swap or ball).
Many of our pendants are bezel set in gold vermeil as are our popular gemstone stud earrings seen below.
We hope this information will make your buying decision a little easier. As always, if you have any questions about our items please email us.