History of Gold Vermeil
- Gold vermeil, which is pronounced “vehr-MAY,” is sterling silver plated with gold. The initial process originated in France around 1750. This technique called for fire gilding. 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. However, the mercury vapors caused many artisans to become blind. France made this process illegal in the 1800s. Modern gold vermeil is usually created using an electrolytic process, which is much safer than fire gilding yet produces a similar result.
- 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. Finally, the gold layer with which the silver is plated must be at least 10-karat gold, and the layer must be at least two and one-half microns in thickness.
- 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. 10-karat gold is the lowest quality and 32-karat the highest. You can find gold vermeil in different colors, including yellow, white, pink and tri-color.
- Gold vermeil is comparable to pure gold in appearance and artisanship. Because of its primary composition of sterling silver, gold vermeil is considerably more affordable than pure gold. 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. In addition, because of its increasing popularity, there is a wide array of choices in gold vermeil pieces.
- Gold vermeil will last for many years without tarnishing and without the gold plate wearing away if you properly care for it. You should avoid wearing gold vermeil jewelry in the bath, shower or when swimming. Do not have gold vermeil jewelry machine polished (typically performed by a jeweler), 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. Glass cleaner can provide added luster if necessary.
Source for this information: eHow.com