Buying a new piece of jewellery is one of the most exciting purchases you can make. Whether it’s a gift for yourself, or for a special person in your life, jewellery is timeless - that is if you’re buying high-quality, solid gold. With many options to choose from, we understand that choosing and buying the right piece of jewellery can be difficult. But we’re here to make it easier. Looking to understand the differences between real gold, gold-plated, vermeil or filled? Read on to find out more.
When a piece of jewellery is gold plated, it simply means that a base metal has been plated or dipped in a thin layer of solid gold. Base metals are usually of lesser value and can range anywhere from brass, nickel, copper or steel. Although these pieces appear to be as visually appealing as real gold, because of its thin layer, it is susceptible to fading and revealing its natural metal colour. While buying these items may seem like you’re getting a better deal, it often requires higher maintenance like taking off the jewellery before washing, rinsing or rubbing as it can result in rusting or dirty looking pieces. If you’re willing to put in the work and remember to take off your jewellery before jumping in the shower, gold plated pieces can be a great, affordable option.
Gold vermeil is very similar to gold plating, but instead of dipping lower-cost base metals in gold, we dip sterling silver. Gold vermeil is considered a more premium version of gold plating because its material is hypoallergenic and is plated with a thicker layer of solid gold. While this is a preferred option when it comes to gold plating, with enough wear and tear, the plating can slowly come off as well.
Gold filled jewellery is considered to be an even more premium version to both plating and vermeil. That’s because Gold filled jewellery is made through a bonding process that actually melts a thick gold layer to its base metal. Despite these pieces being stamped with a karat number, it only indicates the 5% requirement of gold necessary to fill the coating that is mounted to the base metal. While gold filled jewellery is a favourable choice as it gives off a similar look to real gold, there is still a chance of discolouring and wear and tear over time.
When people refer to "gold jewellery," they simply mean solid gold materials. In its pure form, solid gold is 24 karats and is the softest and most gentle metal. In most cases, it's very rare to find pieces of jewellery made out of 100% pure gold because of its soft and gentle material. Instead, other alloys are added to the gold mixture in order to create a solid combination of what we refer to as "solid gold." When discussing gold materials, the karat indicates the parts of the piece that is pure gold in relation to the other alloys. A 10k gold piece of jewellery is 10 parts solid gold, 14 parts alloys and a 14k gold piece of jewellery is 14 parts solid gold and 10 parts alloys, and so on. The higher the gold element, the softer the piece of gold may be.