There are many different types of jewelry on the market, from plated to solid, and it can be confusing when shopping for the best jewelry. Gold jewelry is a beautiful way to show your love and appreciation for someone special in your life. There are many different types of gold jewelry, each with their own unique characteristics. In this blog post, we will go over the four most common types of gold jewelry: what is gold filled jewelry, what's vermeil jewelry, what's solid gold jewelry, and what's plated jewelry. We'll also discuss which type is best for you!
What is gold filled jewelry?
There are a few key differences between the types of gold jewelry. The first is, what is gold filled jewelry? Gold filled means it has been mechanically bonded with a base metal by heat and pressure, containing 100x more gold than gold plated items. In comparison to plated or vermeil items, this type of gold jewelry can last for decades! This makes it perfect for those who want beautiful gold pieces without the solid gold price tag.
What is vermeil jewelry?
Next up, what's vermeil jewelry? What does vermeil mean? Vermeil is a step up from plated jewelry in terms of how much gold it contains. At a minimum, vermeil will contain 5x more gold than plated. However, it still contains less than gold filled. Sterling silver is a mixture of 92.25 percent pure silver and the other seven percent being another metal such as copper, zinc or nickel to increase hardness.
Vermeil has been around for centuries, but it became popular again in the 1960's when Yves Saint Laurent used vermeil jewels on his designs. In comparison to plated items, with proper care this type of gold jewelry can last for many years without wearing through! This makes it perfect for those who want beautiful golden pieces but cannot afford solid gold options. Note: if you have very acidic or sensitive skin, this is probably not the jewelry for you.
Is solid gold jewelry best?
What about solid gold jewelry? Solid means the purest of this list and there are many types of karats that qualify as solid gold. The purest gold is 24 karat and it is very soft, so many jewelers use 14, 18, or 22 karats to give the jewelry strength without compromising quality. Of those options, 14k is the strongest and most durable. In comparison to plated items, this type of golden jewelry is heirloom quality and will last a lifetime. The solid gold I love and work with most is 14k due to its durability.
What is plated gold jewelry?
Finally what's plated jewelry? Plating means that a (typically) thin layer of metal has been deposited onto another metal such as brass or copper by using heat and pressure in an electrolytic process where electricity flows from one electrode (the item) into the other (the plate). It can also be called "electroplating", but not all types of electroplating are used on gold-plated pieces since some cannot support their own weight when in jewelry form. Plated items are the least expensive option for gold jewelry, but they don't last as long since the plating can wear down faster than other types of metal used in their place. If you have more acidic skin (like me!) plated jewelry can be diminished to an oxidized sadness – where no gold is left on the piece – within a matter of hours. Because of this, I do not offer plated options unless it's vermeil. If I can't personally wear it, I don't make or sell it.
So then, what is thick gold plated jewelry??
Similar to plated jewelry, thick plated jewelry is the exact same process as above. However, the process is repeated multiple times to achieve more gold on the piece than typical plating but still (usually) less than gold filled items. It's still an affordable option and a fantastic one when you're a maker who's casting pieces and want a more luxurious, and less oxidative, finish.
Now that you know which types of jewelry are the most affordable and which are the best value, you'll be able to shop like a pro! Notice what type of metals are being used when shopping online. I've noticed that a lot of jewelry sites do not specify what type of metals they've used, which makes me immediately suspicious of their quality. If someone is claiming that they've hand made your item but can't tell you what materials were used, move on. It's not worth buying something that won't last. I always use gold filled, solid gold, sterling silver, or vermeil metals in my jewelry work. The type of metal used in each piece is clearly listed on its product page. So start shopping today for your next favorite piece! Questions? Comments? Don't hesitate to reach out – I'm here to educate and help you find the perfect piece!