Is sterling silver which has been gold plated.
The initial process originated in France around 1750. Jewelry makers applied mercury and gold to the silver and exposed the metal to extreme heat. The heat caused the mercury to vaporize and the layer of gold to adhere to the silver. The mercury vapors caused many artisans to become blind. France made this process illegal in the 1800s. Now, gold vermeil is produced by an electrolytic process.
In order to qualify as gold vermeil and not merely gold-plated silver, a piece of jewelry must meet certain requirements. The base must be pure sterling silver. It may not be coated with any other metal prior to having the layer of gold applied. To be considered vermeil by the US Code of Federal Regulations, the gold must be at least 10 carat and be at least 2.5 microns thick. In the US, sterling silver covered with a base metal and plated with gold cannot be sold as vermeil without disclosing that it contains base metal.
There are various different levels of quality in gold vermeil. As with pure gold, a higher number of karats mean a higher quality piece of jewelry. Vermeil can be created using 10-karat, 14-karat, 18-karat, 24-karat, or 32-karat gold. You can find gold vermeil in different colors, including yellow, white, pink and tri-color.
Since gold vermeil by definition cannot contain other metals, people with nickel allergies or sensitivity to other metals can wear gold vermeil jewelry pieces comfortably and safely.
Gold vermeil will last for many years without tarnishing and without the gold plate wearing away. You should avoid wearing gold vermeil jewelry in the bath, shower or when swimming. Do not have gold vermeil jewelry machine polished as this process can wear away the gold layer. Use a soft, clean, lint-free cloth to remove dirt, oils and other material from the jewelry.
There are two distinct types of electroplating – the basis of vermeil items.
The Flash Plating, the gold is dipped into the electroplating solution for a short time. This method may also be called color plating as very little gold will coat the piece. The gold will wear off within weeks.
The Micron Plating, the thickness of the gold is measured. This is the standard for plating watches and vermeil jewelry. The piece is placed in the solution for a very long time depending of the gold thickness. 2.5 microns is the minimum for vermeil jewelry.
The Coloration, micron plating is much more standardized and reliable for colors. Micron plating can have different colors. Different karats are used to create gold vermeil, 14K, 18K, 24K, 32K of white, pink, tri-colored, yellow or other gold tone. European standards are very strict about the vermeil coloration of their jewelry.
Some pictures of pieces that are with gold vermeil:
18K gold Vermeil ring
Vintage 22k Gold Vermeil necklace
24K gold Vermeil and rosy red faceted rubies
I will continue the explanations for each metal.
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