Gold vermeille ( pronounced ‘vermay’ ) refers to sterling silver that has been plated with a layer of gold. The base metal is usually sterling silver but, in some markets, this isn’t always the case. If the item is to qualify as gold vermeille it must have at least one 10 karate layer of gold 1.5 micrometres thick. Gold vermeille jewellery findings have become popular in recent years as the price of gold has risen astronomically making heavier gold pieces price prohibitive for the trend market. For the history of gold vermeille, click here.
Gold-filled differs from gold vermeille in that isn’t a plated process and can’t be casted using the lost-wax casting method used in sterling silver. This limits the possibilities of what gold-filled findings can look like. However, chains and basic findings such as lobster clasps and jump rings are very popular in gold-filled because they are similar in durability to solid gold. The most popular gold-filled findings and chains are made with 14kt gold which is less “brassy” than 18kt, but with less of an orange hue than 10kt gold.
The main struggle designers have with gold vermeille is oxidization whereby the gold takes on a darker orange patina from the oils, and any lotions, on the skin. Cleaning agents can only restore gold jewellery back to its original shine to a certain degree; often re-plating the gold piece becomes necessary. However, it cannot be plated if pearls have been incorporated into the gold jewellery as the plating process reacts chemically with the pearls, permanently eroding their luster.
Amoracast has worked with its factories to perfect an electrocoating process whereby the plating is permanently protected from tarnishing and wear. The gold vermeille jewellery findings designed by Amoracast are plated with14kt gold to match gold filled findings and chains. They are then brushed and electro-coated for protection so they do not tarnish. The hand-brushed finish gives the pieces a softer and more elegant appeal while the coating protects the satin effect.
By law, for an item to be designated as Gold Vermeille there should be at least 1.5 micrometers, or 1.5 microns, of gold plate on its surface to distinguish it from lighter plating, or flash plating, which may have as little as 0.25 micrometers. Some designers may even require custom platers to use 2 microns of gold. Gold vermeille is a much more expensive process, but it is far more durable against everyday wear and tear, lasting about 6 months of normal wear. However, a protective coating like the one used by Amoracast provides durability that far surpasses the heaviest of gold plating. It is a labour intensive process but the resulting premium product allows designers the freedom to use pearls and porous stones which cannot be plated. It also provides clients with the peace of mind that their jewellery will not tarnish and the plating will never wear off giving their owners years of enjoyment.