The Ultimate Guide to Your Gold Jewellery - Is It Actually Real Gold?

What is the Difference Between Gold Plated, Gold Vermeil & Gold Filled Jewellery?


There is a common misconception around whether jewellery is "real gold" if its plated or whether gold filled jewellery is solid gold. Gold-filled, gold plated and gold vermeil are terms that are sometimes confused or are unfamiliar. They differ in important ways and these terms are not interchangeable.



What is Gold Plated Jewellery?

Gold-plated jewellery is known for its thin layer of gold applied over another affordable metal such making it a shiny and attractive addition to your jewellery collection. There are various types of gold plated jewellery, some which will tarnish sooner than others. So pay attention to the product details when purchasing. Stainless steel is the most reliable and durable, with proper care these last for years, cooper is the lowest grade and will tarnish and oxidize easily.


Examples of gold plated bases:


· Stainless steel - Water resistant, hypoallergenic, durable and tarnish free

· Titanium - Water resistant, hypoallergenic, durable and tarnish free

· Copper - Will tarnish after a few wears.


Gold plating refers to the method of putting a piece of economical metal into a chemical solution that contains gold, then passing an electric current through the piece after that. Gold is attracted to the base metal by the electric current, where it reacts to form a thin coating of gold.

Gold Plating: Is It Real Gold?

Gold plated jewellery is gold that is plated over another metal. Gold-plated jewellery isn't solid gold. But if a piece is gold plated, the gold is usually around 0.5 microns thick.


Up to the Neck Jewellery only uses stainless steel or titanium based jewellery which provides a longer lasting jewellery which will not tarnish and can be worn in water. However some high street retailers often use gold plating over copper bases to create gold jewellery that is very low cost & affordable. It’s cheaper production cost allows them to creates a bold gold look that sits within the fast fashion market where trends are short lived so durability or tarnishing is not a concern.



What is Gold Vermeil Jewellery?

Gold vermeil, (pronounced vuh-mayl) is also gold plated, however the plating must be at least 2.5 microns thick (opposed to 0.5 for regular gold plating). Another big difference is the base metal. Gold vermeil has a base of real silver. Since the gold plating on vermeil jewellery is thick, it lasts a lot longer than plated gold.


Vermeil jewellery is considered "demi-fine jewellery" because it comprises two precious metals (gold and silver). The higher the karat weight and the thicker the gold layer, the more valuable and expensive the piece will usually be. Gold vermeil jewellery is associated with demi-luxury brands such as Up to the Neck Jewellery and catering for people after high quality, durable jewellery but without the luxury price tag.

Gold Vermeil: Is it Real Gold?

Gold vermeil is real gold, too, just like gold plating. It’s just not solid gold throughout. The highest percentage of gold usually used in this type of jewellery is 18-carat gold.



What is Gold-Filled Jewellery?

Gold-filled means a layer of solid gold is mechanically bonded on top of jewelers brass. The gold layer must constitute one-twentieth (or 5%) of the total weight of the jewellery. Most of the time, the gold is 14k gold, but sometimes it's 12k gold (it's stamped with 14/20 or 12/20).


Rather than simply plated over the surface of the jewellery, the gold is mechanically attached to the base and can never wear off. Jewellery filled with gold isn't electroplated but rather bonded with heat.


Jewellery made from this material has the same characteristics as solid gold but is much more affordable. You can find high-quality gold-filled jewellery as an alternative to gold-plated jewellery if you are after long lasting jewellery at a reasonable price point.


Which Type of Gold Jewellery Should You Purchase?

It's easy to confuse these three types of gold jewellery because each has a gold coating on its surface. There is no doubt that gold makes all forms of jewellery more valuable and durable in some way. Simply consider how long you plan to wear your jewellery purchase and where you want to wear your jewellery. On holiday in the sea? Only on special occasions? Or everyday?


Explore our special pieces perfect for daily wear and special occasions. Our favourite selection of fine gold vermeil jewellery can be viewed here. And also browse through our full collection of everyday wear hypoallergenic, waterproof & tarnish free jewellery here.