Gold Filled vs Gold Plated vs Vermeil Jewelry | Which is Best? | HarperCrown

Gold Filled vs Gold Plated vs Vermeil Jewelry | Which is Best?

If you’re a casual jewelry buyer, then you’ve probably always assumed that there was little difference between gold plated, gold filled, and vermeil. Gold plated and gold filled sound so similar, but there is a vast difference between all three of these options.

In this article, the differences in material, manufacturing, and price will be demystified so you can choose the option that’s best for you. 

Pure gold is not only expensive but too soft to be used for jewelry meant for everyday wear. That’s why gold is mixed with other metals and measured in karats.

The majority of the jewelry sold is made from base metals and then coated in gold using several processes. 

What is Gold Filled Jewelry?

This terminology is a bit misleading because rather than filling anything with gold, it is simply a term for adding a gold layer on top of another metal. In this process, you’ll get a thicker layer of gold than you would with plating.

The gold layer is pressure-bonded to the core metal. In comparison to the gold plated jewelry, gold-filled is 5% or more gold weighted. If you want to think of it, karats, that’s 10k or higher. 

While it doesn’t beat out solid gold in value, it is a much thicker layer of gold, often resulting in a high price point. The gold filling process uses intense pressure and usually requires a silver, copper, or brass base. 

What is Gold Plated Jewelry?

In the case of gold plating, the jewelry is made from brass, copper, or another metal. A layer of nickel is usually attached as a connector between that metal and the gold layer they are about to add.

A layer of gold is then fused on top using electroplating. Electroplating combines the metals in an electrolytic bath of salts. 

As you can imagine, on a delicate piece of jewelry, these layers are very small and lightweight. The gold plating is such a light layer that it doesn’t even add to the weight of the item. It is usually around 0.05% of the total weight. 

Gold plating has a lower price point making this jewelry very accessible; however, it is slightly less durable than other methods of adding gold to jewelry.

You’ll want to keep your gold plated items away from heat and moisture if possible to prolong the life of the piece.  

What is Vermeil?

This is one causal jewelry buyers might not have heard of before. Vermeil is similar to gold plating, but the base metal is higher-quality, usually silver. The layer of gold can be super thin or a bit thicker; this will greatly vary the price point of vermeil jewelry.

Since vermeil is a combination of silver and gold, it is considered of higher quality and value than gold plated items. 


Vermeil is a fantastic mid-range price point and makes an excellent gift. If you choose a thin layer of gold, it may tarnish in time and need re-plating.


Thicker layers will require less maintenance but will be priced higher. Vermeil is very versatile, and you’ve probably bought it countless times before without realizing it. 

Which is better? Gold Filled or Gold Plated or Vermeil?

What matters most to you when purchasing jewelry? The answer to this question might vary; for example, when you’re looking for everyday pieces for yourself, you might choose to go for a lower price point than when you’re looking for a gift to give your mother for her birthday.

Besides cost and quality, some people also want to factor in allergies or how long the piece will last with minimal upkeep. 

Best Jewelry for Allergies

If you have allergies or sensitive skin, you have to consider what type of jewelry you wear. Allergies are usually to the lower quality base metals like copper or brass.

The gold layer offers some protection between your skin and the base metal, but that thin layer of gold can rub off and leave your skin exposed to the metal that will cause irritation.

Vermeil would be an excellent option for people with sensitive skin because you can choose vermeil with a thicker layer of gold. Gold-filled is also an option but could be price prohibitive for some. 

Lowest Maintenance Jewelry

Gold plated jewelry that is worn often will tarnish once the base metal becomes exposed. If the piece has some sentimental value, you can have it re-plated.

However, many people choose gold plated due to its low cost and don’t expect it to last a lifetime. Once again, Vermeil is a great option here because you can choose a slightly thicker layer of gold and get a long-lasting piece for your collection that won’t tarnish quickly. 

Given As Heirlooms and Gifts

Pure gold pieces of various karats are great for special gifts and family heirlooms, but if your budget can’t handle it, there are other options.

Gold filled jewelry can contain a very thick layer of gold and makes great high-end gifts.

Vermeil has a base made of silver and then a layer of gold that comes in various thicknesses. You can find incredible pieces of vermeil jewelry, considered “demi-fine.” 

Best Everyday Accessory Pieces

Gold plated jewelry is a phenomenal choice for everyday pieces you consider an accessory. Jewelry helps accent and elevate an outfit.

With a lower price point, gold plated is an excellent choice for lightweight pieces that are affordable. You can also find great gold plated gift jewelry within a budget. 


Having three different choices (gold filled, gold plated, and vermeil) gives you a lot of options depending on the occasion and use you are going for.


If you’re looking for elegant yet affordable jewelry that is gold filled, gold plated or vermeil, check out 
HarperCrown
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2 comments

Victor

Victor

Hi Jaime,

Yes, all of our vermeil items have a minimum of 2.5 microns of gold plating. Thank you so much!

Jaime

Jaime

Hello! I’m interested in your gold vermeil. I know some products labeled as gold vermeil aren’t very durable because they use a very thin layer of gold. Do you stick to the 2.5 micron requirement? Thank you!

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