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What is Gold Plated, Gold Vermeil, Gold-Filled, and Solid Gold jewelry?

  Today on the market, we find all these different names for jewelry with gold color. The purpose of this article is to describe to you the meaning of each of them and their differences.

What will you find?

  • Their meanings and differences, including their official terms established by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and their published “Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries.” 

  • Gold Purity Chart of the most common gold purity levels, plus advantages and disadvantages in each of them.

  • Conclusions & Recommendations

Base Metal, no gold

   Gold Plated Jewelry

   Gold Plated refers to jewelry made with a base metal, usually brass and copper, and a thin layer of gold. The gold layer should measure at least 0.5 microns (a micron is 0.001 of a millimeter) to be considered gold plated. This process is made with a quick dip of the metal in chemical solutions ending with a layer of gold, therefore the plating. Even though the plated jewelry can have the same appearance as the solid gold at first, this layer of gold fades and tarnishes quickly, usually when it is rubbed too hard or when it is constantly in contact with the water, which causes that appearance of dirty looking jewelry and the discolored skin.  The cost of plated pieces can vary depending on the thickness of the gold layer, but in general, prices are low because of the inexpensive value of the materials.


     FTC’s definition of gold plated jewelry created through this plating method:

  “An industry product … on which there has been affixed on all significant surfaces by an electrolytic process an electroplating of gold, or of a gold alloy of not less than 10 karat fineness, which is of reasonable durability and has a minimum thickness throughout equivalent to 0.175 microns (approximately 7 millionths of an inch) of fine gold, may be marked or described as ‘Gold Plate,’ ‘Gold Plated,’ ‘Gold Electroplate’ or ‘Gold Electroplated’ … if the term is immediately preceded by a designation of the karat fineness of the plating.”


    FTC also states that mechanical (rather than chemical) plating processes may be used in gold plated pieces: 

“An industry product … on which there has been affixed on all significant surfaces by soldering, brazing, welding, or other mechanical means a plating of gold alloy of not less than 10 karat fineness and of reasonable durability may be marked or described as ‘Gold Plate,’ ‘Gold Plated,’ ‘Gold Overlay,’ ‘Rolled Gold Plate,’ ‘Rolled Gold Plated’ … when such plating constitutes at least 1/40th of the weight of the metal in the entire article and when the term is immediately preceded by a designation of the karat fineness of the plating.”


   Gold Vermeil Jewelry

   Gold Vermeil is a version of Gold Plated, where is used the same production methods. However, they differ in base metal; Gold Vermeil uses 925 sterling silver, with different standards established by regions. For example, the USA  required at least 10K of gold layer and 2.5 microns of density as industry-standard, unlike Canada, which required just 1.0 microns of density for the layer of gold.

In general, Gold Vermeil is known for the thickness of the gold coating, which almost always is higher than Gold Plated. The USA standards for Gold Vermeil tend to last longer, but it does not mean it will last forever. This layer of gold also fades and tarnishes. As we already know, it is just a layer of gold, thicker but a layer, which means if the piece of jewelry gets a hard scratch, the gold will vanish. And, of course, you can not shower or swim with your vermeil piece; it is definitely not everyday jewelry.

If you consciously use and care of your good quality vermeil jewelry, it can last longer, but consider that just because your sweat may leave a green residue on your skin over time.

   FTC’s official definition of gold vermeil:

“An industry product may be described or marked as ‘vermeil’ if it consists of a base of sterling silver coated or plated on all significant surfaces with gold, or gold alloy of not less than 10 karat fineness, that is of reasonable durability and a minimum thickness throughout equivalent to 2.5 microns (or approximately 100 millionths of an inch) of fine gold.”


    Gold Filled Jewelry

   As gold plating and gold vermeil, gold filled jewelry is also made of a different base metal, commonly brass, copper, steel, or nickel. The difference here lies in the process, which is a very old technique from the beginning of the 20th century, where the gold is mechanically bonded onto the base metal. This process is not used anymore for the modern industry because of its expensive cost and time consumer.

While gold plated is measured by its thickness, Gold Filled is measured by weight. To be considered gold filled jewelry by law, the gold layer must contain at least 5% gold to the total weight. Gold filled maintain its gold cast for longer than plated or vermeil, but it will undoubtedly go through tarnishing and discoloration over time.


   The FTC’s definition of gold filled jewelry continues as an extension of the mechanical plating processes passage cited in the Gold Plated Jewelry section:

“… When such [mechanical] plating constitutes at least 1/20th of the weight of the metal in the entire article, the term ‘Gold Filled’ may be used.”



   Solid Gold Jewelry

   Solid gold in its pure form is 24k (indicating that 24 out of 24 parts of the metal are gold). Although this can sound the best, it is not. In its pure form, slightly reddish yellow, gold is too soft, which easily scratches, bends, and wraps, whereby is not recommendable for everyday wear. Because of this, alloys are added to create a stronger and more practical metal for jewels. The gold and the alloys are mixed together. Depending on the ratio of pure gold to other alloys, jewelry is categorized by purity level: 10k, 14k, 18k, and 24k (by the karat system), karats that are known as “solid gold.” The mix with the alloys in each level retains the desirable properties of pure gold: color, shine, everlasting, and inability to tarnish or fade with time.

   At OneGoldFamily, we have selected the two strongest, durable, affordable, and still extremely beautiful gold karats for our jewelry, 10K and 14k gold, which means it is 41.7% and 58.33% gold, respectively, alloyed with other precious hypoallergenic metals. These two karat amounts are the perfect mixtures of gold for everyday jewelry wear, in addition to their beautiful colors, delicate hue, and durability.


   We are NICKLE FREE, which means chances for metals allergies are very remote with us. Plus one full-year Guarantee.

   Visit our online store.


Gold Purity Chart of the most common gold purity levels, plus advantages and disadvantages in each of them.

Conclusions & Recommendations

   Gold Plated, Gold Vermeil, and Gold-Filled jewelry are terms established to describe or mark a piece of jewelry with base metal and a layer of gold, in addition to their specific characteristics mentioned above. Being a layer of gold on a base metal, it will be inevitable that this layer of gold fades and tarnishes over time. You have to practice extreme care for these jewels and do not wear them daily to extend their life with the gold color.

   It would help if you analyzed the weather where you live, your job, and the environment around you, already knowing that it is crucial to avoid water, sweat, rub, then, you will have an idea if they are a good addition for you or no.

   Quite the opposite is solid gold. You can wear your solid gold jewelry every day and sometimes forget that you have them on. They will never tarnish or discolor your skin. Then, If you are looking for a piece of jewelry that lasts forever, that you can wear every day, keeping its beautiful color, you should prefer solid gold jewelry.


   Here at OneGoldFamily one of our core values as a company is quality—we want to make sure that there is longevity in your OneGoldFamily pieces so you can enjoy them for years to come, and that is why we just work with solid gold, on the bases of transparent and responsible sourcing practices and the use of sustainable materials.


   Do not forget to go to the product description every time you like a piece of jewelry, do not skip this step ever, because every so often, it is just there where you can find that you are seeing Gold Plated/Gold Vermeil/Gold-Filled jewelry. Unfortunately, sometimes on the product statement is just found the gold layer karat that was used, and even worse, their prices may be the same or higher as solid gold jewelry, at least our solid gold jewelry. You can also find dishonest sellers who do not give you correct information. Then, we recommend you do complete research and ask questions before purchasing if necessary; choose a transparent business that offers a complete description and guarantee. You deserve a great experience and the truth of your purchase.

 It’s very treasured when we start collecting for quality, value, and sustainability!

 Our customers are our priority, then please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any comments or concerns. We will be more than happy to assist you.

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