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

Tue Aug 17, 2021

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.

Here's a quick summary - you can also Pin it for later!

Gold plated vs gold vermeil vs gold filled vs solid gold

Read on for more details, and you’ll see why we love solid gold, gold filled, & gold vermeil!

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 the air, sweat, lotion, perfume, etc). Gold plated jewelry is much, much cheaper than the other types of gold jewelry because it uses a tiny amount of gold on top of a base metal. Gold plated jewelry is a good option if you need jewelry for just an occasion, or for trying out new trends.  

What is Gold Vermeil?

Gold vermeil (pronounced ver-may) is 2.5 microns of gold plating on top of sterling silver. US standards require there to be at least 2.5 microns of gold plated on top of sterling silver, but some other countries require less, such as Canada only requiring 1.0 micron. It is hypoallergenic, so people with metal allergies can wear it safely. Gold vermeil lasts much, much longer than gold plated jewelry because the plating is so much thicker. Over years, with lots of excessive use, the gold can wear off in areas with a lot of contact.

Since the base metal of gold vermeil is sterling silver, and sterling silver can tarnish, gold vermeil can tarnish if it's left in the open and not sealed in an air tight bag. Luckily, you can easily clean off the dark spots with a polishing cloth. Gold vermeil should be treated just like a sterling silver piece.

We recommend purchasing gold vermeil products from trusted brands because some companies can claim their products are vermeil, but their products don't actually have 2.5 microns of gold. 2.5 microns converted to inches is .0001", so as you can imagine, it's quite hard to measure without proper equipment. At Simple & Dainty, we send our vermeil pieces to a reputable plating factory that has the capability of measuring how much gold they are plating on top of the sterling silver.

What is gold vermeil?

Many charms can’t be made of gold filled due to its limitations (more on that soon!), so we use gold vermeil instead. 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 - and we absolutely adore our gold vermeil rings (Starburst Signet Ring, & Dainty Baguette Ring to name a few). Gold vermeil jewelry is a great choice for those who want something to wear daily while still being affordable.


What is Gold Filled?

Gold filled is a solid layer of gold mechanically bonded to a base - jeweler’s brass. US standards require the gold layer to consist of 1/20th (or 5%) of the jewelry’s total weight. Gold filled can be made with 14k or 12k gold, with 14k being more common. Sometimes there is a marking on the jewelry piece that says 1/20 14K GF or 1/20 14K, but not necessarily all the time. 

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, unlike gold plated jewelry. It has the same qualities as solid gold jewelry at a fraction of the cost - it's tarnish resistant and waterproof, making it great for everyday wear. Gold filled jewelry is also great for people who are allergic to metals, as the material will not cause an allergic reaction.

Gold filled has some limitations because of the way it is manufactured; it is only available in wire or sheet form, so it cannot be casted or poured into a mold. Gold filled charms are either flat (made from sheets), or hollow (two pieces of sheet metal soldered together). Whenever we can't make charms or rings out of gold filled, we use gold vermeil instead. 

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

Brazilian gold filled, which is different than US gold filled, is another type of gold filled that is very popular nowadays. Brazilian gold filled consists of 1/30th (or 3%) of 18k gold over a base metal. It has 40% less gold than US gold filled, but can still last a while with proper care. 

We have four Brazilian gold filled pieces: our Herringbone NecklaceHerringbone Bracelet, Chunky Rope Necklace, and Chunky Rope Bracelet. We try to carry US gold filled pieces as much as we can but it can get expensive, so we use Brazilian gold filled to bring the price down.

Overall - gold filled jewelry is perfect for everyday wear because 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 is the best quality of gold there is. Just as the name suggests - the whole jewelry piece is made entirely of gold (no base metal). 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?

Our solid gold collection has many timeless pieces that are easy to cherish. We use 14k solid gold because of its durability and beautiful yellow hue - it's not too yellow like 22k gold, and not too pale like 10k gold.

Solid gold is especially tarnish resistant, hypoallergenic, and perfect for everyday. It’s the most hypoallergenic type of gold, so it’s amazing for people who have sensitive skin. Solid gold is a precious metal that will last many lifetimes and can easily become cherished heirlooms! If you are looking for a "forever" piece that you can pass down, this is the material for you.

Some of our most popular 14k solid gold pieces are our: Tiny CZ Screwback Stud Earrings, Everyday Hoop Earrings, Triple Baguette Huggie Hoop Earrings, Dainty Mariner Chain Necklace, and of course our Dainty Cable Chain Necklace.

Shop Solid Gold NecklacesShop Solid Gold Studs  |  Shop Solid Gold Earrings



What’s the Best for Me?

The best type of gold jewelry that's suited for you depends on a number of factors, such as your budget, how often you wear your jewelry, whether you’ll be able to take good care of it, and more. If you have the budget, solid gold is the absolute best quality of gold you can get because not only will it last many lifetimes, you can also pass it down generations. If you're looking for something more affordable, you can opt for gold filled and gold vermeil because they're hypoallergenic, waterproof, and great 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! Let us know if you enjoyed the post in the comments below, or if you have any questions :)

25 Responses

Grace Renee Gallery

December 01, 2023

It’s evident that your expertise in the subject matter shines through, making it an invaluable resource for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of gold jewelry. Well done!


September 15, 2023



September 07, 2023

Nice post, thanks. I now know what to look for.


July 18, 2023

Gold filled is the best if you can’t afford solid genuine gold 10k 14k. 18k. ….
Gold over sterling silver is a nice touch that looks great too 😊 !!!

Mark Caldwell

July 13, 2023

Excellent way to explain the differences. There is no mystery left to confuse or leave you feeling misled, just empowered to invest more love in gift giving instead of doubt. Definately helps you choose more wisely within every budget


June 14, 2023

So glad your jewelry is waterproof! How does it live up to when exposed to chlorine? I’m wondering if it is okay to wear your jewelry in the pool or if I should take the pieces off when swimming. Thanks so much in advance!

Jennifer Louis

May 24, 2023

I absolutely love this guide on types of gold jewelry! It’s informative and well-written, making it easy for beginners like me to understand the different styles and trends. The visuals are stunning too, making me want to explore more options for my next gold jewelry purchase. Thank you for sharing!

Rose J

March 20, 2023

Very enlightening! Was ignorant about the kinds of gold processing techniques. I learned a lot in just a few minutes. So glad to have found you n line. Thank you so much for offering us this information.


February 20, 2023

Hey Audrey!

Our pieces do not have nickel :) Sometimes gold vermeil can have nickel as a barrier between the sterling and gold, but we made sure ours has zero nickel. Hope this helps – let me know if you have any questions!



February 20, 2023

Yo I’m absolutely so glad I read this! I didn’t know that leaving your jewelry improperly stored would cause tarnishing! Good to know, I just hung up one of those necklace hanging things. it has a closeable little door in the front but I think I might look for a case to keep a few in that I’m not wearing frequently at the moment. Thanks for helping me keep my jewelry in good condition!(:


February 20, 2023

I see that the centers are silver, and this is 100% hypoallergenic, but if your exteriors have even a minute amount of nickel in the gold to harden the metal, they are not hypoallergenic. I have a nickel allergy, so any amount will cause a reaction. Does your gold contain nickel?


January 06, 2023

That was a nice information.. I desire to purchase. Pls, how do I go about it? Thanks

Sonni Quick

January 06, 2023

I buy and sell vintage jewelry. Gold plating is very common as well as gold-filled. Some plated jewelry has made it through the decades in very good condition. Unfortunately, many owners, thinking the metal isn’t “real”, including mixed alloys instead of Sterling, jewelry was thrown into drawers and jewelry boxes. Eventually the metal corrodes when exposed to air long term. Keeping jewelry in air tight containers or little ziploc type bags will lengthen the life of any metal that isn’t gold or Sterling. Seeing destroyed costume jewelry is sad.


November 14, 2022

This article is very informative and helpful. I know better now. 😊

Sue Kirk

August 08, 2022

These hoops are weightless, and look beautiful! I look forward to shopping at your site.


June 08, 2022

Hi Margaret!

There are different types of solid gold, and it all depends on how much gold there is. Since solid gold is too soft/malleable, they mix it with other metals to make it stronger. The most common types are 18k, 14k, and 10k gold. The higher the number, the more gold there is and more expensive. The lower the number, the less gold and therefore cheaper it is. The number means parts, so for example, 14k solid gold is 14 parts gold, 10 parts other metals.

Hope this makes sense! Let me know if you have any other questions :)



June 08, 2022

I’ve learned a lot from your write up. However, I’m a bit confused as you contradicted your statements.

1st, you said ‘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’.

Then you went on to say ‘Solid gold is the best quality of gold there is – it’s great to wear everyday, won’t fade, and is hypoallergenic’.

Is pure gold 24k not same as solid gold? If it’s soft and malleable, how come we can wear it’s great to wear everyday?

Hoping for your response. Thanks.


January 11, 2022

Man, reading this brought me so much comfort haha
I bought a necklace and earrings from you as a gift and it totaled to $100 which was a lot for me not knowing what gold filled was! I feel so educated now!
Thank you!!
Love your stuff. I literally look for “simple and dainty” jewelry. So perfect ❤️


December 13, 2021

Thank you for this information. Its really something everyone should be aware of when purchasing jewelry. So happy I found this company!!!


December 10, 2021

Oh , how I wish I read your article before I bought a cheap necklace,
My necklace lasted one time wearing it.
I would like to know if I can paint the small heart with some paint. The necklace is ruined anyway,
Or do you have a suggestion?
I am so happy I read your article ,so very enlightening. THANK YOU.. Joy

Mike Weaver

December 10, 2021

This information was so useful!! Thanks for sharing!


November 10, 2021

nice post


September 27, 2021

This article is really helpful. Thank you for sharing. I’ve always avoided gold plated jewellery (still would never buy it…..I bought some pieces as a younger girl and they faded very quickly). With vermeil, it some getting used to the idea I wasn’t wearing ‘real’ gold, but now very much love it. In fact, it looks a look nicer than my solid gold pieces. More affordable and the designs I find are more modern/stylish.


September 27, 2021

Awesome read – very helpful!!! Love that you are keeping customers informed and educated about what great quality products you sell!!


August 17, 2021

Very helpful, thank you!

Leave A Comment

Our Promise to You

US - free shipping & free exchanges.
International - see shipping page for details.