Types of Gold Jewelry Explained: Gold Plated, Vermeil, Gold Bonded, Gold Filled, & Solid Gold
Hey Golden girls! Excited to be jewelry shopping but confused with the different types of metal? No need to be frustrated! At Le Serey, we've got you covered with our handmade, everyday jewelry. Say goodbye to green marks on your neck and tarnish from low-quality pieces. Let us help you understand the differences between gold plated, gold vermeil, gold filled vs gold bonded, and solid gold. We're here with the info about the different types of gold to help you make the best choices for your lifestyle and needs.
GOLD PLATED JEWELRY
The most affordable gold jewelry option is gold plated jewelry, but be warned, this type of jewelry is considered costume jewelry or fast fashion jewelry and is not designed to last for a long time, usually tarnishing after only weeks or months.
Cheap, thin gold layer tarnishes quickly and easily, not waterproof, not good for sensitive skin.
How it's made:
Gold plating involves the process of electroplating a thin layer of gold onto a base metal such as nickel, brass, copper, or some other low-priced alloy.
Is this still considered gold jewelry? The answer is yes, but many people might argue that it is not genuine gold and that it is fake gold. The main problem is the gold content. The gold plated industry is not regulated and therefore does not have to contain a minimum percentage of gold in order to be considered gold plated. While a layer of real gold that ranges from 10k to 14k is employed, the layer is quite thin and is attached to a substandard gold alloy that will eventually become visible, therefore rendering your plated piece less than 1% gold.
Gold plated jewelry is the least durable option of gold jewelry available in the market. While it might be a good alternative for someone who is searching for an inexpensive option or a costume, it is crucial to keep in mind that gold plated jewelry should not be exposed to water and may cause your skin to turn green or black. If you have allergies or have sensitive skin, you may want to avoid wearing this type of jewelry altogether as many people find they have skin irritation from gold jewelry.
Mid-priced jewelry, much more durable than gold plate, hypoallergenic and good for sensitive skin.
How it's Made:
Gold vermeil (pronounced ver-may) is 2.5 microns of gold plating over 925 sterling silver. Even though the process is the same as gold plating, the thick micron plating makes it much more durable and will last much longer than gold plated jewelry. Unlike gold plated jewelry, Gold Vermeil jewelry is regulated in the United States, requiring at least 2.5 microns of gold plated on top of sterling silver, you can be sure of the quality of the piece you are purchasing.
Note: Some countries have different specifications for gold vermeil . For instance, Canada only requires 1.0 microns gold to be labeled gold vermeil, (less than half the gold required for U.S. Gold Vermeil), which means you will be receiving an inferior product to U.S. gold vermeil and can expect your piece to last less than half as long. Also, please note that some U.S. jewelry sellers try to get away with selling inferior gold vermeil products by labeling it "sterling silver with gold overlay". This typically means that the gold plating doesn't meet U.S. standards to be labeled gold vermeil.
Gold vermeil is great for people with sensitive skin because it's hypoallergenic. However, since the base metal of gold vermeil is sterling silver, it can tarnish if it's left in the open and not sealed in an air tight bag. Luckily, you can easily clean off the dark spots with a polishing cloth or tarnish removing solution. It is also important to note, that eventually with excessive use, the gold can wear off in areas with a lot of contact. Though durable, it is not considered waterproof and should not be worn when swimming or showering.
Please Note: We recommend purchasing gold vermeil products from trusted brands. While some companies claim their products are vermeil, their products don't actually have 2.5 microns of gold, which is required to meet U.S. standards. For consumers, it is difficult to measure gold microns with the naked eye and without proper equipment. At Le Serey, we send our vermeil pieces to a reputable factory that uses x-ray measurement technology to prove how much gold they are plating on top of the sterling silver and that it meets the U.S. standard for vermeil products.
GOLD BONDED JEWELRY - AKA Gold Filled
Gold bonded, aka gold filled, jewelry is perfect for everyday wear because it it is great for sensitive skin and comparable to solid gold in terms of durability, yet much more affordable. With proper care, gold filled jewelry can last a lifetime!
Highly durable, water proof and tarnish resistant. Thicker gold layer makes it great for sensitive skin and comparable to solid gold in terms of durability. Easy to care for.
How it's made:
Gold filled jewelry is a special type of jewelry featuring a solid layer of gold that's mechanically bonded to a base layer, usually brass, using a high pressure, high heat pressure bond. According to US standards, it must contain 1/20th (or 5%) of the total weight in gold. You may find markings like 1/20 14K GF or 1/20 14K on your piece - but not always. If you need jewelry that has longevity but costs less than solid gold, then opt for gold bonded - or gold filled- jewelry. Wherever possible, at Le Serey we use gold filled options for our jewelry because of it's proven quality and durability.
Gold filled has some limitations, however, because of the way it is manufactured; it is only available in wire or sheet form, so it cannot be casted or poured into a mold. That's why gold filled charms are typically flat (made from sheets), or hollow (two pieces of sheet metal soldered together). Whenever we can't make charms or rings out of gold filled, we use gold vermeil instead.
What makes gold bonded jewelry stand out? For starters, gold filled pieces contain almost 100x more gold than gold-plated jewelry. Plus, the mechanical bonding ensures that that gold won't rub off or flake away like plated pieces. Gold-filled boasts the durability as solid gold, but without the hefty price tag. And if you're someone with metal allergies, gold fill is completely safe for sensitive skin. With its tarnish resistance and waterproof properties, gold filled jewelry is perfect for daily wear and an active lifestyle.
US gold filled jewelry is our material of choice; we use gold filled where ever we can because it is higher quality than gold vermeil and gold plated, but still not as expensive as solid gold. Our favorite gold filled jewelry includes: Our Saint Christopher Necklace, any of our Layering Chains, our Locket Necklace, our Sequin Necklace, and our Herringbone Chain.
What is Brazilian gold filled? Brazilian gold fill has become popular, but don't be fooled, it is not true U.S. Standard gold fill and is a cheaper, less durable product. Brazilian gold filled consists of 1/30th (or 3%) of 18k gold over a base metal. It has 40% less gold than US gold filled. In terms of durability, it is slightly better than gold plate, but inferior to gold vermeil. We do not use it in our products because it does not prove to hold up to everyday wear and tear.
Solid gold is an outstanding investment, as it retains its color, does not cause allergies, and be worn daily because it is waterproof and tarnish resistant. It is considered heirloom quality and can last the lifetime of the wearer (and beyond!). Our made to order Recycled Solid Gold Collection is high quality, real solid gold jewelry at a fraction of the price of our competitors.
How It's Made
Solid gold jewelry lives up to its name - it's crafted entirely of pure gold, without any base metals. The karat of gold used in each piece determines the amount of gold versus alloy. Although pure gold is too soft to wear, it's often alloyed with other materials to increase durability. So, 14k solid gold has 58.3% gold and 41.7% alloy, while 18k solid gold comprises 75% gold and 25% alloy. If you're on a budget, lower karat gold varieties, such as 9k or 10k gold are less costly since they contain less gold. However, different karat weight does affect the color of the gold jewelry. For instance, 24k gold jewelry will have a bright, more orange hue, while 10k and 14k gold will have a softer, more yellow golden color comparatively.
Solid gold is an outstanding investment, as it retains its color, does not cause allergies, and suits everyday wear. However, it can be a bit pricey, and buying from certain retailers can result in unexpectedly high costs. Solid gold jewelry is also considered heirloom quality and can be passed down from one generation to the next.
At Le Serey in order to offer the best price and avoid high markups, we offer made to order solid gold jewelry. We avoid high markups by not carrying inventory and only making the piece when a customer places an order. Our turnaround time is usually 10 - 14 days for our made to order collection, but in turn, we are able to pass these cost savings on to our customers and offer genuine solid gold jewelry at a fraction of the price of our competitors.
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GOLD JEWELRY: WHICH IS BEST?
We always recommend considering your budget and lifestyle when considering which gold jewelry to buy. At Le Serey, we prefer gold filled, gold vermeil, or solid gold jewelry because these materials makes for a more luxurious and premium jewelry that can last a lifetime. If you’re looking for gold jewelry that feels expensive and will last forever but is still attainable, then shop our gold bonded and solid gold collection today.
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