Here is a brief explanation of the differences between Vermeil, Gold Filled and Gold Plated jewellery The main difference between Vermeil and Gold Filled is in the thickness of the gold and the base metal used.
What is Vermeil?
Vermeil is produced by coating sterling silver with carat gold. Gold is usually 18k or pure 24k gold. To be considered vermeil, the gold must be at least 10k and have a minimum gold thickness of 2.5 microns on all surfaces. A Vermeil piece of jewellery is made entirely of precious metals which gives the piece a central value. Vermeil jewellery should maintain the look of yellow gold for many years.
What is Gold Filled?
The term "gold filled" means that a thick layer of gold is bonded to a base of other alloys such as rhodium, brass or sterling silver through heat and high pressure. The gold layer on gold-filled is approximately 100 times thicker than gold plated. Gold-filled items are regulated and the quantity of gold must be at least 1/20th by weight of the total product which is 5% the gold content and 95% other metals. Gold-filled jewellery is an economical alternative to solid gold! It is safe for most people with sensitive skin and is hard-wearing.
What is Gold Plated?
Gold-filled materials are regulated in the jewellery industry whereas gold-plated materials are not. Gold plated is the lowest in quality. A much thinner layer of gold is electroplated onto an alloy metal.
So to wrap up - vermeil jewellery can be more valuable, as it is made of sterling silver, than gold-filled items made with a cheaper base metal or alloy. As for gold-filled jewellery, the thickness of its gold coating is mostly thicker than that of vermeil items. Therefore, you may find that from a durability standpoint, gold-filled pieces are superior to vermeil ones.