Sterling Silver Information

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Gold Vermeil (Silver Gilt)

Why are we discussing "gold vermeil" on a website about sterling silver?  Simple.  The term "vermeil" (pronounced "ver-mey") refers to a silver item, containing no less than 92.5% silver, that has been plated with a gold or gold alloy that is no less than 10 karat, to a thickness of not less than 2.5 microns.

Gold is typically applied through electroplating.  One approach is called flash plating, and leaves very little gold on the surface, perhaps as little as .25 microns.  With this approach, gold is dipped into an electroplating solution for a short period of time.  This method has been called "color plating," as the gold will often wear off in a matter of days or weeks.

Much better is micron plating.  With this approach the thickness of the gold applied is measured.  The piece to be plated is soaked in a gold plating solution for a long time to ensure an ample coat of gold is applied.  Jewelry should have a thickness of not less than 2.5 microns, while watches should have a thicker coating, perhaps 5 microns or more.  This is because watches must endure much more use and abuse.

FTC Rules

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has regulations governing the use of the term "vermeil."  Here is the law:

23.5 Misuse of the word "vermeil."

(a) It is unfair or deceptive to represent, directly or by implication, that an industry product is "vermeil" if such mark or description misrepresents the product's true composition.

(b) 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 substantial thickness and a minimum thickness throughout equivalent to two and one half (2 1/2) microns (or approximately 100/1,000,000ths of an inch) of fine gold.

Note 1 to 23.5:  It is unfair or deceptive to use the term "vermeil" to describe a product in which the sterling silver has been covered with a base metal (such as nickel) plated with gold unless there is a disclosure that the sterling silver is covered with a base metal that is plated with gold.

Note 2 to 23.5:  Exemptions recognized in the assay of gold filled, gold overlay, and rolled gold plate industry products are listed in the appendix.

Gold Vermeil Bead, image courtesy of Beads of Bali.




Index Of Articles

"Silver 101"
"Sources of Silver"

"Sterling Silver Defined'"
"Silver Standards"

"Silver Marks and Hallmarks"

"Silver Testing Kits"

"The Silversmith"
"Silver Coins"

Plating & Treatments

"Silver Plated Jewelry"
"Gold Vermeil Jewelry"
"Rhodium Plated Sterling"
"Antiqued Silver"

Fake Silver Jewelry

"Alpaca Silver Jewelry"
"German Silver Jewelry"

Silver Jewelry Styles

"Bali Silver"
"Indian Silver"
"Thai Hill Tribe Silver"
"Tibetan Silver"
"Turkish Silver"

Silver Allergies

"Silver/Nickel Sensitivities"
"Hypoallergenic Jewelry"

Recent Developments

"Argentium® Sterling Silver"

"Silver PMC®"

"The Origins of Tarnish"

"Tarnish Removal"

"Firescale (Firestain)"

"Proper Silver Storage"

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