LET'S TALK ABOUT THEIR DIFFERENCES : GOLD FILLED, VERMEIL, PLATED, and PVD
For jewelry lovers, these terms might seem interchangeable, but in fact they're very different in very important ways.
First, let’s go over the basic definitions of each, and then we’ll compare them and explore why Wolf + Woman only carries very specific types of jewelry.
Vermeil refers to high quality (pure or sterling) silver that is plated with a layer of gold, a minimum of 1.5 microns. Most vermeil jewelry available now is created by electroplating the silver with gold, a chemical process that uses an electrical current to bind the two metals together. This plating will last a long time if you are able to remove your jewelry when you sleep, swim or exercise.
GOLD PLATED JEWELRY
Traditionally, gold plated jewelry is a brass, copper, or low-end metal electroplated with a thin layer of gold. Usually the less expensive option, gold plated jewelry doesn’t require any minimum karat weight or thickness, and tends to wear very quickly. However, there is an exception we will explain in just a minute.
GOLD FILLED JEWELRY
Unlike vermeil and gold plated jewelry, gold filled jewelry has a much thicker layer of gold over the base metal. This makes a big difference in terms of the jewelry’s ability to resist wear and tear long term.
GOLD PVD PLATED JEWELRY
PVD stands for Physical Vapour Deposition, and is a vacuum coating process of gold that produces a brilliant decorative and functional finish to the base metal. PVD utilizes a titanium nitride that provides an extremely durable coating. PVD coatings are more resistant to corrosion from sweat and regular wear than gold plating. It's a great choice for people who never take their jewelry off, as it is extremely vibrant and durable for many years. Even big, luxury brands use this process, like Rolex and Cartier.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOLD PLATED AND VERMEIL JEWELRY
As vermeil jewelry is composed of two precious metals (gold and silver), it’s usually thought of as being closer to fine jewelry and tends to fall under the category “demi-fine.” The higher the karat weight and thickness of the gold layer, the more expensive and valuable the piece will usually be.
Essentially, gold plated jewelry is the same thing as vermeil jewelry, only the base metal tends to be of a lower quality than silver, such as copper or brass. The gold can be of any quality, and the electroplated layer can be any thickness.
With other brands, unless specified otherwise, traditional gold plated jewelry is usually going to have lower quality gold and a thinner gold layer. Because of this, as a consumer, it’s important to pay close attention to the jewelry’s quality if it’s listed as gold plated. While it does have a layer of gold, this doesn’t necessarily mean the jewelry underneath is high-quality and durable.
Wolf + Woman Jewelry, however, is the exception to this rule due to the fact that the base metals we use are never low quality, all plated pieces use sterling silver base metals and the gold is 14k.
Our gold vermeil plated pieces are a minimum of 1.5 micron layers of 14k gold on sterling silver and our gold plated pieces are 0.05 micron layers of 14k gold on sterling silver base.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOLD PVD COATING AND GOLD PLATING
Gold plating occurs when a thin layer of real gold is plated onto another metal. One of the advantages of gold-plating is that it gives the product the look of real gold. On the other hand, gold plating doesn’t offer the durability of gold PVD coating and when scratched can reveal the base material.
Although the total amount of gold is less than the previously mentioned types of gold jewelry processing, the quality of the gold is still 14k or 18k. We use this process over a base of Stainless Steel, which is hypoallergenic, and durable. Its a great choice for 'never-take-off' jewelry wearers.
GOLD JEWELRY AND ALLERGIES
If you've ever had an allergic reaction to some jewelry in the past, it's probably because it was made with lower base metals like brass, copper or nickel and sold as "24k gold plated". The gold layer on traditional plated jewelry is usually too thin to cover the lower quality metal, and when the gold begins to wear down, you're prone to an allergic reaction.
The good news for you is, quality is our highest priority and nothing we carry is made with these lower base metals. All of our jewelry at Wolf + Woman is hypoallergenic, which means we never use any lower base metals that commonly cause allergic reactions or turn your skin green.
The base of all of our jewelry is either 925 Sterling Silver or Stainless Steel, and is always mentioned in the product description, so you can rest assured that your sensitive skin is safe with W+W.