Types of Gold Jewelry Explained: Gold Plated, Vermeil, Gold Filled, & Solid Gold

March 11, 2019 2 Comments

There are so many types of gold jewelry available, which can be very confusing and frustrating when you’re shopping. We’ve all been there - your favorite necklace turning your neck green. At Simple & Dainty, we are committed to handcrafting jewelry that is perfect for everyday wear. We wanted to explain the differences between the types of gold jewelry available - gold plated, gold vermeil, gold filled, and solid gold. Read on and you’ll see why gold filled & gold vermeil are our main materials!

What is Gold Plated Jewelry?

Gold plated jewelry is a very light layer of gold - 0.05% actual gold or less - on top of a base metal (usually brass or copper). The thin layer of gold is plated onto the base metal to create gold plated jewelry.

What is gold plating?

Since the gold plating is very thin, the gold can rub off easily. It is also more prone to tarnishing when exposed to any kinds of liquids or chemicals. Although gold itself does not corrode, copper and brass will, especially when exposed to liquids (in air, sweat, lotion, perfume, etc). Gold plated jewelry is much cheaper than the other types of gold jewelry because it uses a tiny amount of gold. Gold plated is a good option for jewelry you need for just an occasion or trying out new trends.  

We do have a piece that is gold plated - our Constellation Necklace. The gold plating on our constellation charm is much higher quality than traditional gold plated jewelry (think Forever 21). It is also coated with an anti-tarnish coating, so it will last much longer other gold plated jewelry. We still do not recommend exposing it to any liquids or chemicals, just to prolong the longevity of the piece!

What is Gold Vermeil?

Gold vermeil (pronounced ver-may) is heavy gold plating (2.5 microns by US standards) over sterling silver. It does not tarnish and is hypoallergenic, so people with metal allergies can wear it safely. Since the gold plating in vermeil is much heavier than gold plated jewelry, the gold lasts much longer and will not rub off (although over time, some gold may wear off).

What is gold vermeil?

Many charms can’t be made gold filled due to the way it’s created, so we use gold vermeil in place. A few of our necklaces have gold vermeil charms on gold filled chains, such as our Dainty Horn NecklaceRoman Coin Necklaces, and Tiny Lock Necklace. Gold vermeil jewelry is a great choice for those who want something to wear daily without tarnishing, while still being affordable.

What is Gold Filled?

Gold filled is a solid layer of gold mechanically bonded to a base - usually jeweler’s brass. The layer of gold consists at least 1/20th of the jewelry’s total weight. The gold is usually 14k gold, but sometimes may be 12k gold (sometimes stamped with 14/20 or 12/20, respectively).

What is gold filled?

Gold filled jewelry has almost 100x more gold than gold plated jewelry. Since the gold is mechanically bonded to the base rather than plated, it can’t rub off. It has the same qualities as solid gold jewelry at a fraction of the cost. Gold filled jewelry is also great for people who are allergic to metals, as the material will not cause an allergic reaction.

Gold filled jewelry is our material of choice; we use gold filled where ever we can, as it’s higher quality than vermeil and gold plated, but still not as expensive as solid gold. Our favorite 100% gold filled jewelry include: Traveler's Coin Necklace, Everyday Hoop Earrings, Gold Solitaire Ring, Saint Christopher Necklace, and Tiny Tag Necklace

Gold filled jewelry is perfect for everyday wear, as it can handle the wear and tear of daily life - and it's very affordable. With proper care, gold filled jewelry can last a lifetime!

What is Solid Gold?

Solid gold jewelry is just as the name suggests. There are many different karats of gold, which determines the amount of gold vs alloy. Pure gold (24k) is too soft and malleable to wear in jewelry, so the gold must be alloyed with other metals to give it strength and durability. 14k solid gold means 14 parts gold (58.3%) and 10 parts alloys (41.7%), while 18k solid gold means 18 parts gold (75%) and 6 parts alloys (25%). The lower the karat, the less expensive it is because it is using less gold.

What is solid gold?

Solid gold is the best quality of gold there is - it’s great to wear everyday, won’t tarnish or fade, and is hypoallergenic. However, since the whole piece of jewelry is made of gold, it is very expensive and unaffordable to many. Many retailers of solid gold jewelry also have high markups, so one simple necklace can be hundreds of dollars.

What’s the Best for Me?

The best type of gold jewelry that's suited for you depends on a number of factors - your budget, how often you wear your jewelry, whether you’ll be able to take good care of it, and more. We love gold vermeil and gold filled because they're both affordable, yet high quality enough for everyday wear. Here’s a chart that summarizes each type of gold jewelry.

Gold plated vs gold vermeil vs gold filled vs solid gold

We hope this post was educational to you and helped you understand more about the different types of gold available!

2 Responses


July 07, 2019

This information was so useful!! Thanks for sharing!


March 12, 2019

This was a great read, that you for explaining the difference! It’s just inspiring me to want to buy more of your pieces knowing they will last!

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Jewelry Sizing Guide




Inside Diameter Ring Size
14 mm 3
14.8 mm 4
15.6 mm 5
16.45 mm 6
17.3 mm 7
18.2 mm 8
19 mm 9