Types of Jewelry Materials Explained: Gold Plated, Vermeil, Gold-Filled, and Solid Gold

With so many terms to describe gold jewelry, it can be confusing to know exactly what you’re buying, the value of your jewelry, and how to look after it. Here we explain the difference between different types of metals used to make jewelry, from fashion jewelry to solid gold.  

Here's a quick summary:

difference between gold plated and gold filled vermeil jewelry metal types



Fashion jewelry is simply defined by the type of metal used. Unlike fine or semi-fine jewelry, fashion jewelry is typically made with non-precious stones and metals such as brass, bronze and copper. Fashion jewelry can include some gold plated jewelry but the base metal of fashion jewelry is typically brass or bronze  (lower quality). This type of jewelry is typically extremely affordable, however, it tends to tarnish and rust easily upon contact with any moisture. Fashion jewelry is a good choice if you like to explore with different styles on a limited budget. However, you need to be okay with its short life span and not have any known skin allergies (lower grade metals and alloys are more likely to cause skin irritation).

difference between gold plated and gold filled vermeil jewelry metal types


Gold plated jewelry consists of a very light layer of gold (less than .05% to the total weight of the product. The thin layer of gold is plated onto the base metal (typically non-precious metals such as brass) to create gold plated jewelry. Gold plated jewelry is usually an affordable choice, however, since the layer of gold on the exterior is very thin, the jewelry is more prone to wearing off and tarnishing.

what is gold plated jewelry metal type quality gold vermeil



Gold vermeil is a high-quality form of gold application in which a thick layer of gold (this must be more than 2.5 microns and is usually between 14k – 22k gold) is coated over .925 sterling silver. It’s considered a higher grade than gold plated jewelry because the outer layer is much thicker and sterling silver (precious metal) is a safer choice than nickel, brass, or other alloys (sterling silver is also hypoallergenic). Therefore, gold vermeil jewelry is one of the best types of jewelry one could buy. It will not only last a very long time, is it hypoallergenic, and much more affordable than gold-filled or solid gold jewelry.

difference between gold plated and gold filled vermeil jewelry metal types jewelry



Gold-filled jewelry is a great choice since it will most likely last you a lifetime. It’s a lot less expensive than solid gold, however, that’s for a good reason. Gold-filled jewelry only contains a fraction of the gold that a sold gold piece of jewelry would (see image below). Gold-filled jewelry is made by bonding gold to a base metal (nickel, silver or other) under a high amount of heat and pressure, resulting in a jewelry piece that’s more durable. Gold-filled jewelry is a good option because it won’t rust or tarnish overtime like fashion jewelry or gold plated jewelry would.

what is gold plated vs gold vermeil jewelry metal types explanation



Solid gold is one of the purest and more expensive types of jewelry one can buy. This purity is often expressed by what you might know as karats (a karat is 1/24 part of pure gold by weight). Karats range in increments of 10k (41.67% pure gold), 14k (58.33% pure gold), 18k (75% pure gold) and 24k (99.9% pure gold). Because pure gold is naturally soft in texture, it is often mixed with other metals to make it durable for wearing it as jewelry. There’s no denying that pure gold is the best type of jewelry there is, but it’s also the most expensive kind.

difference between gold and gold plated gold vermeil metal types


The best type of jewelry for you really depends on a number of factors, some of which include your personal style, budget, known skin allergies, and how often you plan to wear it. The majority of jewelry you will find on the Desert Citizen website is Gold Vermeil (thick layer of 18k gold coated over .925 sterling silver base). We believe that is the perfect combination of long-lasting and hypoallergenic qualities at affordable prices that won't break your budget as much as gold-filled or real gold would. Check our our Desert Gold vermeil collection here

P.S. Don't forget to enjoy 25% off your entire order sitewide with code 'TREAT' 


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