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What’s the difference between gold plated, gold filled and gold vermeil jewellery?

Gold plated hoop earrings on a terazzo trinket tray

If you’re looking for a more cost effective alternative to solid gold whilst still getting the gorgeous warm colour that gold is famous for then there are a number of different options which give a beautiful finish at a fraction of the price.

Gold plated, gold filled and gold vermeil are terms that we often see used to describe jewellery. If you don’t know what they mean, it might seem that they are interchangeable, but actually there are a number of key differences between them. This short guide to will help you to better understand what each term refers to so that you’re clear about what you’re buying and can make an informed decision about the right option for you.

What is gold plated jewellery?

Gold plating is when a base material is electroplated with a thin layer of gold. I use 23.7ct hard gold plating for a lot of my pieces and find that it’s a really affordable and good quality option which still gives that beautiful buttery yellow colour that we all love gold for. The earrings in the photo at the top of the page are made from hard gold plated silver.

With gold plated jewellery, the metal being plated is most often brass, copper or silver (I use Ecosilver, a 100% recycled alternative to Sterling silver, as the base for mine) and the thicker the plating the more durable and hard wearing it is. Although the coating can wear off over time you can extend the life of your gold plated jewellery by taking care when wearing it and storing it. Do check out my recent blog post How do I clean my gold & silver jewellery? for some handy tips on how to best look after your gold plated pieces.

Handmade gold vermeil bubble ring