Difference between plated, filled and vermeil jewelry

People ask me this question at least a few times a week! So, I decided to dedicate this post to defining the types of metals used in my shop.

Please keep in mind that gold filled, vermeil and plated also can refer to rose gold items.

Here are a few images of my plating machine. With it, I can change the finish of necklace charms or rings as a customer requests or just work on new project designs like this silver horseshoe ring.

Jewelry Plating Machine

Plus, I really enjoy the versatility, and that I don’t have to go elsewhere for plating charms, rings or earrings anymore.

Jewelry Plating Machine

I’ll admit that plating is not the best option for every piece of jewelry, but it does work on these rings very well because the plating on the outside is what really matters. That’s why I kept the bands silver! It also works well on charms, earrings, etc. I love this thing.

So let’s break it down here:




What is gold-plated?

A base metal such as steel, brass or zinc  is dipped into a bath of electroplating solution. When an electric current is applied, a thin layer of gold is deposited on the metal.

What is sterling silver?

Sterling silver is a mixture of pure silver and other metal, usually copper. The alloy that results gives silver its strength. The standard is at least 92.5% silver – so that’s why you see the .925 stamp.

What is gold vermeil? 

This is pronounced “ver-may” and I always say it wrong! Most vermeil is plated with 22K-24K gold. It’s a great combination for those with allergies to normal plated jewelry items. The difference between vermeil and gold-filled is in the thickness of the gold and the base metal used. In vermeil, the base is sterling silver.

What is Gold-filled? 

Gold-filled can also be called rolled-gold. These jewelry items are not actually filled with gold. They are made of a base metal that’s usually brass, zinc or copper and then covered by sheets of gold in a mechanical bonding process. It’s basically a really thick layer of gold that will last a very long time. The gold content is 5% or 1/20 of the total weight. With little care, it will not peel or flake and should last as long as solid 14k gold jewelry. Gold-filled is also very safe for sensitive skin. 

Gold jewelry does react with chlorine. Never take your gold jewelry into a pool or spa unless you like a tarnished look!

Now that you know your metals, be sure to check them all out in our Etsy shop!