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What is the Difference between Gold, Gold Plated and Gold Vermeil Jewellery?

What is the Difference between Gold, Gold Plated and Gold Vermeil Jewellery?
Gold pepite

Did you know that there are many different types of gold? 

For a buyer, this can understandably be a little overwhelming, especially when you are trying to find that perfect piece of jewellery.

Gold jewellery can hold many important traditions around the world and is often synonymous with marriage. 

Gold is truly a statement piece and understandably you will want to know that you are getting exactly what you paid for. 

In this article, we will learn about the different kinds of gold commonly used in the jewellery industry.

We will advise just what buyers need to know before they go shopping and ease the selection process. 

Let's take a closer look at the differences between gold, gold plated, and gold vermeil jewellery.  

1. Solid gold

Mine waste vegan jewellery

Solid Gold is the most valuable form of gold and its value is defined by what is known as karats.

The more karats gold has, the purer it is.

The purity of gold will always decrease with the addition of other metals to create the required strength needed for jewellery.

The final colour and warmth of the gold is derived from the metals that are added to create its lasting look. Metals include nickel, platinum, copper, silver or zinc.

What do karats mean exactly?

When shopping for gold, looking at the karats is the easiest way to determine its true value. 

For instance, 24 karats is the highest purity on the market, so if your jewellery says it is 12 karats, that means the item has 50% solid gold and 50% added metals. As mentioned previously, gold used for jewellery is typically composed of other alloys.

The following are the common combinations: 

Gold karats

Jewellery should be stamped to indicate its purity to the buyer and determine its value or how much it is worth. 

Depending on the item, the stamp may be in the form of a three-digit number.

This number is the percentage of gold per thousand. 

For example, a 18 karats gold ring should be marked as 75% or 750.

If you have any doubt when buying your gold jewellery, always check for the stamp on the jewellery.

If there is no stamp, pass your way.

What are the differences between the different types of gold?

Gold naturally reflects yellow and red but it can come in a variety of colors: when additional alloys alter its overall color and appearance. 


Yellow gold

Yellow Gold is pure gold mixed with alloys such as copper and zinc. 

Yellow gold is the naturally occurring colour of pure gold. 


Pink gold

Pink Gold also known as rose gold or red gold, is typically a mixture of yellow gold, copper, and silver. 

The variation of pink hue or the richness of the rose-tone will depend on what percentage of copper is added to the gold. 


White gold

White Gold is pure gold mixed with either silver, palladium or nickel.

White gold is commonly plated with a product called Rhodium, a metal that coats the gold and gives the item a white tone. 

The concern for buyers with White Gold is that the plating typically wears off over time and therefore requires replacing.

2. Gold plated

Gold Plated jewellery is essentially where a metal goes through a process called ‘electroplating’ to cover it with a thin layer of gold to create its finished look.

Plating is quite common in the jewellery world, with gold and rhodium being two popular types. 

This process was invented by an Italian chemist, Luigi Brugnatelli in 1805, the first person to plate a thin coat of gold onto silver.

Essentially, this is a cheaper alternative to gold.

There is no minimum thickness required for gold plating and a thin coating may be easily damaged.

Gold plating often has little to no resale value as reclaiming the percentage of gold is not often worth the process or time. 

3. Gold vermeil

Gold Vermeil is when a gold coating is used over the top of sterling silver. 

The word Vermeil is French for Silver so this product is also known as Gilded Silver or Silver Gilt.

For an item to be considered Gold Vermeil it must contain 99.9% fine silver or 92.5% sterling silver and be coated in a minimum of 10k of gold. 

The thicker the gold coating, the higher the quality of the product meaning it will be more durable and last longer.

Gold Vermeil is similar to gold plating because of its affordability, however, the difference is the standards for Gold Vermeil are stricter as it must be made from both silver and gold. 

What to look for as a buyer?

The general rule when shopping for gold is: the value of the gold is proportionate to its purity. 

Be aware of misleading information! It is very important to read the details of the materials used for the jewellery your are purchasing. Unfortunately, transparency is not always the way to go in the jewellery industry. 

You will often encounter shops selling gold jewellery although it is a silver jewellery with a gold plating. 

Gold stamp 999,9

Always ask for the karats of your gold jewellery.

If there is no stamp, pass your way.

Scéona's philosophy when it comes to gold

Solid gold jewellery

By choosing to exclusively work with 18k recycled gold to craft our pieces, we believe recycling e-waste is a wonderful alternative to gold mining. 

Recycled gold is bringing new life to this beautiful metal and allows to reduce the amount of waste discarded to the landfill. 

Without compromising on the quality of your jewellery, you now have the choice to select more sustainable alternatives to mining.

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