Gold Vermeil vs Gold Plated vs Gold Filled: Your Questions Answered

Gold Vermeil vs Gold Plated vs Gold Filled: Your Questions Answered

To the untrained eye, they might all appear the same, but beneath the surface lies a world of difference in the quality, durability, and price point of each gold piece.

In this article, we spill the gold and clarify the difference between gold-plated, gold-filled, and gold vermeil jewelry. Find out the pros and cons of each below.

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What is Gold Vermeil?

What is gold vermeil, is it even real gold, and why is it so popular? Gold Vermeil (pronounced "ver-may") is a specific kind of gold jewelry with exceptional durability and quality. Its creation process involves a base of sterling silver electroplated with a thin layer of gold, typically 18k or 24k. 

Now, why is this significant? The use of sterling silver as a base distinguishes gold vermeil from gold-plated items, which usually have a brass or nickel base. This means that with gold vermeil, you're getting a higher quality product because sterling silver is more valuable, hypoallergenic, and durable compared to brass or nickel. 

The golden layer is thicker in gold vermeil than in gold-plated jewelry. The thickness is usually about 2.5 microns, which contributes to its durability. It's crafted to last—with proper care, gold vermeil can serve you for decades before its golden sheen begins to fade. 

"Vermeil is essentially gold plating on top of a sterling silver base."

What is Gold Plated Jewelry?

With gold-plated jewelry, a thin layer of gold is applied to the surface of another type of metal or plastic.

Gold plating involves dipping a base metal in a very thin layer of gold. Underneath that gleaming exterior is a different kind of metal acting as the foundation.

The base metal in gold-plated jewelry varies, often made from inexpensive metals like copper or brass. The gold layer, though thin, still lends the piece that luxurious, high-shine finish. This is a popular choice for trendy or fashionable accessories as it offers the allure of gold without the hefty price tag. 

What is Gold-Filled Jewelry?

Gold-filled jewelry, often marked with ‘GF’ or ‘14/20’, is made by bonding a thick layer of gold to a base metal, typically brass or silver, using heat and pressure. This method gives the jewelry durability and a genuine gold exterior that’s more resistant to tarnishing. Gold-filled pieces contain a hundred times more gold than gold-plated pieces, offering a more valuable and longer-lasting product. 

"Unlike gold-plated jewelry, gold-filled jewelry is bonded to the base metal."

Things to Consider

How does this all help when it comes time to buy? As you shop, consider what you want out of your gold jewelry. Something for casual days, luxurious nights out, or to pass down for generations? Do you accessorize with jewelry often, or once in a blue moon?

Care and Cleaning

Gold doesn't tarnish as easily as other metals. You've probably noticed that even sterling silver tarnishes after just a few wears (which is why we sell oxidized silver jewelry styles), but gold tends to get dull as it's exposed to sweat, creams, household cleaners, perfumes, and the like. 

Remove rings before applying lotion, avoid spraying perfume on gold necklaces, and take off all jewelry when you shower or swim (even if it's real). Cleaning gold vermeil, gold-plated, or solid gold jewelry follows the same process:


  • Warm water
  • Dish soap
  • Clean soft cotton or microfiber cloth
  • Soft-bristled toothbrush
  1. Squirt a few drops of dish soap into a small bowl of warm water and mix until bubbles form.
  2. Dip the cloth into your solution and gently run your jewelry until it's clean.
  3. Rinse and gently pat dry, allowing it to air dry afterward.
  4. For stubborn spots or fine grooves, you may have to soak the piece for a few minutes and use a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub lightly. 
  5. Any scrubbing should be as soft and gentle as possible. Gold is a soft metal, and rubs down over time, meaning you should avoid as much abrasion as possible.
  6. Never use a traditional jewelry cleaner on gold-plated gold vermeil pieces as it can remove the gold layer.


With proper care and storage, these pieces can become long-time fixtures in your jewelry box. But...

  • Gold-filled jewelry lasts the longest on average, followed by vermeil and then gold plated.
  • Gold-plated jewelry lasts 6 months to 2 years on average with regular use.
  • Gold vermeil lasts longer than gold-plated because of the electroplating process.


Gold-plated items are generally the most affordable, while gold-filled jewelry is typically pricier due to the greater amount of gold used. Gold vermeil strikes a middle ground, offering a luxurious appearance at a more reasonable cost than solid gold pieces. 

Note that carat count also determines the price, meaning gold-filled pieces won't always be more expensive than other options.

Quick Recap

Gold Vermeil

Gold Plated

Gold Filled

Sterling silver base

Any base metal

Any base metal

Electroplating bonds gold to the silver base

Piece is simply dipped into liquid gold

Pressure or heat bonds gold to base layer

Minimum requirement of 2.5 microns of gold

No thickness requirements

Gold layer must be at least 5% of total metal content

Loses plating relatively slowly

Loses plating more quickly

Thicker plating means long-lasting wear

Shana Gulati: Handcrafted 18k Gold Vermeil Jewelry

At Shana Gulati, we've made our name with handcrafted 18k gold vermeil jewelry. In the name of ethical luxury, our pieces are uniquely crafted using upcycled diamonds, earth-conscious materials, and traditional Indian gems. Our style is inspired by the culture and art of Jaipur, and our artisans are all highly skilled in the art of Indian jewelry making.

Shop Gold Vermeil Jewelry