Does Gold Vermeil Tarnish (Tips to Last Longer!)

You’re probably looking to expand your jewelry collection without damaging your potential kids’ chances to go to college. That’s very responsible (and chic) of you.

While gold vermeil looks just as expensive and put-together as real gold, we’ve all had, at some point in our lives, the green mark of shame on our skins. The price tag of these pieces can certainly be appealing, but you can’t help but wonder:

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Does gold vermeil tarnish? I know I certainly did, browsing through carefully crafted vermeil jewelry online. And I found the answer to my question, and then some.

So I wanted to give back to the Internet and help every one of you in your quest for appealing yet affordable pieces.

What Is Gold Vermeil?

What Is Gold Vermeil?
image: something borrowed

Gold vermeil is also known as silver gilt or gilded silver. It refers to a type of high-quality silver-coated in gold. So how is it different from gold-filled or gold plated, you might ask.

Well, there a few criteria that will have to be met for a piece of jewelry to be considered vermeil.

First of all, the piece’s base should be high-quality sterling (92.5%) silver or fine (99.9%) silver. If the article uses any other type of metal as a base, there’s a higher chance that the gold on top will varnish over time since brass or alloys react negatively with the coating.

The second criterion is the purity of the gold. For a piece to be considered vermeil, the gold used as a coating must have a purity of at least ten karats. Please remember that higher purity gold will also tarnish faster since the gold coating will be softer.

Lastly, vermeil pieces are only characterized like that if the coating layer is 2.5 microns thick.

Does Gold Vermeil Tarnish?

Does Gold Vermeil Tarnish 1
image: something borrowed

Unlike gold-plated pieces, gold vermeil will last longer. With proper maintenance and care, vermeil jewelry can last a long time, but they are still susceptible to tarnishing. The gold layer on top will react to sweat, perfume and mechanical wear and tear.

How long vermeil lasts highly depends on how thick the gold layer is and the purity of the silver beneath. The purity of the gold layer will also affect the durability of your jewelry. For best results, you should choose a gold purity between 14k and 18k.

Anything above that will make the gold coating softer, which will, in turn, cause it to tarnish a lot faster. Anything lower than 14k will not look like the gold sheen you’re after because the coating will have a higher percentage of other metals in it.

So, yes, gold vermeil will eventually tarnish. Quality pieces, however, will have a great chance of resisting the test of time if you take care of them properly.

Does Gold Vermeil Turn Green?

Does Gold Vermeil Turn Green?
image: something borrowed

You’ve definitely seen the green mark left by jewelry before. This is especially prominent in the case of rings. Wearing them constantly can leave green or even black marks on your finger.

The silver at the core of the piece is responsible for this since it oxidizes. In reaction to your skin, it will leave those dreaded marks. However, contrary to popular belief, those marks are only a tell-tale of how your skin reacts to the jewelry. They are not usually an indicator of the piece’s quality.

If the mark itches your skin, it can be a sign that you are allergic to that type of metal. A thick gold coating can prevent adverse reactions to the metal, and there are other ways to protect your skin.

Many people line the inside of their jewelry with clear nail polish to prevent oxidation and avoid marks or any other allergic reactions.

While the silver in vermeil can oxidize and mark your skin, the result is nothing compared to the oxidation of other metals, such as brass, nickel or copper.

How To Make Gold Vermeil Last Longer?

As mentioned, quality vermeil has excellent chances of remaining unscathed for many years. There are many ways you can properly care for your jewelry, but many people fail to take proper care of it because they don’t know the right techniques.

If you’re afraid to clean the pieces yourself or think the process is too time-consuming, jewelry shops will have dedicated people to take your articles to, who will clean them for you for a small fee.

Wearing them every day is not a great idea, but if you follow all the rules below and frequently clean them, it can be done with minimal damage. Even if you wear them every day, quality pieces will only fade and look dirtier over time, but the coating will remain somewhat intact.

Vermeil Maintenance

To ensure you get the most bang out of your buck for your vermeil jewelry, make sure you always follow these steps.

  1. Whenever you are not wearing the pieces, store them in a fabric pouch individually. This will ensure that they are not rubbing off hard surfaces and get scratched.
  2. Never wear your vermeil jewelry when swimming, exercising or showering. The water or sweat will react negatively with the metals and fade the gold coating fairly quick.
  3. Don’t wear your vermeil jewelry to bed. The constant rub of the sheets and your sweat will damage them fast.
  4. Never apply perfume with your jewelry on. Instead, put them on as soon as the fragrance has dried on your skin because the ingredients are notorious for corroding the plating.
  5. Always wear rubber gloves when cleaning, or take the jewelry off, because the harsh chemicals will affect the gold layer.
  6. Wipe down your jewelry with a piece of soft fabric after every use to clean off body oils or cosmetics.
  7. Never place the jewelry near sources of heat because it can cause discoloration or even deformation. It would be a great idea never to put any weight on top of them, either.
  8. Don’t clean them with any coarse fabrics or chemicals. You should not use a toothbrush to clean the pieces. All you need is a soft microfiber or 100% cotton cloth to wipe the pieces gently.

If you follow these tips, you will ensure that the pieces will be as bright and sparkly as when you first got them many years. Of course, vermeil jewelry takes a lot more care than solid gold or silver jewelry, but this is the price you need to pay for the discounted tag.

I’ve found that routinely taking my jewelry off before bed, showering or washing my hands provided a delicate little ritual in which I would ground myself. And the satisfaction that my pieces will last many years is worth it for those couple of seconds of care.

Is Gold Vermeil Better Than Gold Plated?

This will depend wildly on the quality of the product. For a piece to be considered vermeil, there are a few standards in place. These are not imposed for gold plated jewelry, as well.

Gold vermeil will always have high-quality silver on the inside, whereas gold plated jewelry has no restrictions and frequently employs other metals such as copper or nickel. Unfortunately, these can cause severe allergies in some people, and many times will react negatively with the gold.

The plating thickness is not restricted either, so cheaper gold plated jewelry can sometimes be made to have a very thin coating that will tarnish very fast.

The durability of the piece is questionable in the case of gold-plating, as well. Unless the core metal has been strengthened, these pieces can frequently break or deform faster than vermeil.

If a vermeil piece has other metals in its composition, the seller is required to disclose this, so make sure to inquire about any other metals that might have been used when creating the piece.

Lastly, the main difference between the two is the price tag. Vermeil comes with certain assurances to the buyer that the piece is high quality, which drives the price tag up. However, gold plated jewelry can be a cheaper option if you know you’re not allergic.

Finding quality gold plated pieces will require a trained eye, so if you don’t want to document yourself on the quality of the pieces, you would be better off choosing vermeil every time, despite the higher price.


Vermeil jewelry can be a great alternative to solid gold pieces if you are willing to put a little bit of extra care into your schedule. They can last for many years with the proper maintenance, and who doesn’t love a beautiful thing at a discount?

Taking them off before bed, shower and exercise will prolong their life, and regularly wiping them with a cotton cloth will preserve their sheen for many years to come.

If you have any other questions about caring for your vermeil, or you’d like to learn more about choosing the best pieces for your collection, I am more than happy to help!

Just leave me a comment below, and I’ll do my best to help you navigate the gold-paved road. ‘Till next time!

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