Our goal is to make jewelry that last. How long it last depends on what it is made from which also affects the price. Here's a break down on exactly what's what and a guide to help your purchase decision.
Solid gold is the more expensive option of the two because of the gold content, but it actually isn't 100% gold. The karat indicates the percentage of gold. Pure gold is 24 karats but is not ideal for jewelry making because it is very soft (think of a paperclip). It bends and scratches easily. Therefore gold is mixed with other metals, called alloys, to make it stronger and more durable. The ratio of alloys to gold determine the karat (common ones are 10k, 14k, and 18k) and the type of metal alloys determine the color (yellow gold, rose gold, or white gold.). For example, 18 karat gold is made up of 75% gold and 25% metal alloy and if it is 18 karat rose gold, that 25% alloy is going to be mostly copper.
Solid gold is going to be the best option if you are looking to invest in a piece of jewelry that you intend to keep forever and/or wear and never take off. This is because pure gold does not tarnish so jewelry containing high karat amounts can handle daily wear without losing color.
Since gold jewelry increases in value, is low maintenance, does not tarnish you may wonder why isn't all gold jewelry solid gold? Simply put: it's expensive. One way to make gold jewelry more affordable is to make jewelry from a different, less expensive metal and coat it in a layer of gold. From a visual standpoint, it can be hard to tell the difference between solid gold and gold plated jewelry. The gold plated jewelry will have the look of gold but will be less expensive, weigh less and will have a shorter life span because the plating will eventually wear away.
Gold Vermeil (ver-may)
Gold Vermeil is a type of gold plated jewelry. To be legally called vermeil in the United States, the jewelry must have sterling silver as the base metal, be plated in gold that is at least 10k gold (we use 14k), and must also have a gold plating that is at least 2.5 microns thick. In comparison jewelry simply labeled "gold plated" could have a variety of cheap base metals such as brass or steel and the gold plating is very thin, wearing off quickly.
The sterling silver base of gold vermeil makes the jewelry strong and helps the plating hold longer. This is because gold has an affinity for silver and bonds tighter to it than to other metals like brass or copper. The thick coating means the plating on gold vermeil items will not wear off quickly either. Various factors determine the lifespan of your jewelry, the largest being how you wear and care for it. Handle your jewelry with care and do not allow it to be banged or dented frequently. With good care a few years could pass before any sort of fading or loss of color occurs. With diligent care gold vermeil can last longer. When your gold vermeil piece does start to loose its gold plating it can often be replated, which restores the item to new-like status. CaWren Concierge offers replating services.
For people who want an affordable, high quality alternative to solid gold, vermeil is the answer.