Material Information

Gold Vermeil? Gold Filled? Gold Plated? Sterling Silver?

What are the differences between gold-plated, gold vermeil, and gold-filled?
What does the karat measure? How much silver is in sterling silver? What is Oxidized Silver?

Gold-plated: A base metal such as steel or brass is dipped into a bath of electroplating solution, with a lump of solid gold. When an electric current is applied, a thin layer of gold is deposited on the metal. Since the plating is quite thin, the plate (and hence the colour) on findings can wear off.

Sterling Silver: is a mixture of pure silver and some other metal, usually copper. The resulting alloy gives the silver strength. The standard is at least 92.5% silver. Hence the .925 stamp you see on some sterling silver items.

Oxidized Sterling Silver: is a natural process, it happens when the sterling is exposed to oxygen, so the tarnishing process begins once the sterling silver is exposed to open air. Over time and wearing a piece the natural oxidizing process evolves on its own to form tarnish or patina on sterling silver. The chemical oxidizing process speeds it up so we can enjoy the gun-metal effect (that I use in my pieces) sooner rather than over time. By using chemicals to bring out this natural dark color, we can control the color and deepen the dark look if we would like, and also use a finishing gloss to make this color have a permanent darkened metal hue.

Vermeil: (Pronounced: Vermay) is sterling silver that has been gold-plated. Most of our vermeil is plated with 14K-24K gold. This is a good combination for those with allergy to normal, plated jewelry items. The difference between vermeil, and gold-filled, is in the thickness of the gold and the base metal used. In vermeil, the base is sterling silver.

Gold-filled: also called rolled-gold. These jewelry items are not actually filled with gold. They are made of a base metal (usually brass or copper) covered by sheets of gold in a mechanical bonding process. Effectively a thick coat of gold: the gold content is 5% or 1/20 of the total weight. Use gold-filled items for your top-of-the-line jewelry. Usually made with 14k gold, it is hard-wearing. With reasonable care it will not peel or flake, and should last as long as solid 14k gold jewelry. It is safe for most people with sensitive skin

Gold jewelry reacts with chlorine. Never take your gold jewelry into a pool or spa.

Allergies: Some people have allergic reactions to some plating.

The most common is nickel plating possibly up to 10% of people react to nickel. Unfortunately nickel is used to color gold, as an alloy, and sometimes in the electroplating process. If allergy is a problem, most jewelry makers like to use surgical steel, sterling silver, vermeil, or gold-filled items. The plating on plain electroplated items is usually too thin. A product called “Jewelry Shield” by Newall, which comes from the USA, claims to provide protection for jewelry allergy suffers.