Which Type of Gold Jewelry is Right for You?
We love wearing gold jewelry! Gold has a lot to offer: a classic and luxurious look, a warm color, trendy layering possibilities, and high-quality options. Solid gold pieces are a long-lasting investment and perfect for everyday wear. In contrast, gold vermeil and gold-filled options offer a more accessible way to add gold to your collection and experiment with trendier pieces. We carry options in all of these gold types and hope you find this info helpful in selecting your jewelry!
Gold Filled Jewelry
Gold-filled jewelry is created by a pressure and heat bonding process that adheres a layer of gold onto a different metal base (usually brass or sterling silver). US standards require that gold-filled jewelry must have 1/20 weight of the jewelry piece in gold to be labeled as such. This is good to know because it means that your gold filled jewelry has a relatively thick layer of gold, and it is bonded to the base metal in a process that creates a very durable product (compared to other typical plating methods). The manufacturing process makes gold-filled pieces quite resistant to water and everyday wear, safer for sensitive skin, and they can often look very similar to solid gold pieces. You can sometimes find a maker's mark (a tiny, hidden stamp) on a gold filled piece that will indicate "1/20 GF," "14k GF," or similar.
Gold Vermeil & Gold Plated Jewelry
Gold vermeil is created by an electroplating process covering the piece in a gold layer, usually 14k. One distinction between gold plated and gold vermeil is that vermeil always, by definition, contains a sterling silver base rather than an alloy metal. The thickness of the gold layer over the sterling silver must be a minimum throughout of 100 millionths of an inch in order to be labelled as gold vermeil. This thickness will affect how long the gold layer will last through exposure to water, wear and tear, and other elements.
For those with metal allergies, gold vermeil is generally better than other types of plating. Any hints of the base metal that may become exposed will be of sterling silver, which tends to be more hypoallergenic than other base metals. And, with proper care, gold vermeil jewelry can last quite a long time! It is another great option, along with gold-filled, for gold jewelry without investing in a solid gold piece.
For those without sensitivities, other types of gold plated jewelry, such as gold plated brass or other base metal alloys, can be great options as well. Also, jewelry may be labeled as gold plated (rather than gold vermeil) and still have a sterling silver base - for example, a designer could describe their material as "14k gold plated over sterling silver." Just make sure to read the details when purchasing, or check for the .925 stamp (meaning sterling) on the piece to determine if the underlying metal is sterling silver.
14k Gold & 18k Gold Jewelry
14k gold is the most common type of gold used in jewelry and specifically refers to a metal mix that is 58.3% gold, compared with 18 Karat, which is 75% gold. 24k gold is pure gold but is generally considered much too soft to be worn as jewelry. 14k gold is a wonderful option that is beautiful in color and shine while being durable enough to wear all the time. Often, the maker will use a tiny stamp hidden somewhere on the piece to indicate the purity of the metal used, for example, "14k" or "585" for 14k gold and "18k" or "750" for 18k gold.
18k and 22k gold some other options that are used in some of the jewelry we carry. 18k gold can be used to compose a piece of jewelry without compromising durability or strength, and has a truly beautiful warm glow. 22k gold is softer and is more often used for accents on a piece that is mostly composed of other metal.