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With several options on the market, it can be challenging to determine which gold jewellery is best for you. Not to mention, with so many brands intentionally misleading consumers, it can quickly get confusing.   

So, in this article, we’re delving into different types of gold jewellery, including gold plated, vermeil, gold filled and solid gold.

Gold plated

Gold plated jewellery contains 0.05% actual gold or less. The gold is plated on top of a base metal, typically brass or copper, to achieve a gold appearance at a very low cost.

Since the plating is super thin, the gold colour can rub off easily. As the plating rubs off and the base metal is exposed, it can become prone to tarnishing when exposed to chemicals or liquids, including sweat, water, and perfume.

In a nutshell, gold-plated jewellery is the industry equivalent to fast fashion, it might look good initially, but it’s not made to last. 

  • Lowest cost
  • Won't retain original quality for long and can tarnish quickly 
  • Can irritate sensitive skin 


Gold filled 

Gold-filled jewellery must contain 5% of gold. Gold filled, also known as rolled gold, is crafted by bonding a layer of gold to a base metal, usually brass. The layer of gold on filled jewellery is typically 100 times thicker than gold plating.

While gold filled jewellery is a cost-effective production of gold jewellery, designs have some limitations. As a result, gold filled is the least common option on the market.

You can expect gold-filled jewellery to last for years when properly cared for. However, it can tarnish over time.

  • Can last years when properly cared for but can tarnish overtime 
  • Least common option on the market 
  • Hypoallergenic 


Gold Vermeil 

Gold vermeil (ver-may) is a ‘thick’ gold plating over sterling silver. In the UK, gold plating must be a minimum of 2.5 microns thick to be considered vermeil.

However, 2.5 microns is just 0.0025mm. So, although gold vermeil is marketed as thick plating, it’s still a relatively tiny amount of gold. 

While you can expect gold vermeil to last longer than gold plated, it won’t stay gold forever. If you wear your jewellery often, the gold can wear off and leave you with silver jewellery. As a result? Gold vermeil jewellery can tarnish because of the base metal. 

  • Will retain original quality longer than gold plating, but can tarnish
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Affordable alternative to solid gold 


Solid gold jewellery

Solid gold jewellery is crafted entirely from gold. 

While it’s possible to craft designs from pure gold (24 karat), it’s rare as it’s very malleable and unsuitable for everyday wear. So, gold is alloyed with other metals to create 22, 18, 14 and 9 karat gold.

A gold karat refers to its purity. Gold is made up of 24 karats or parts. Therefore, 24 karat gold is 100% gold. Whereas 18 karat gold is 75% gold and 25% other alloys. As we move down commonly used karats, the gold percentage decreases, with 14 karat at 58.3% and 9 karat at 37.5%.  

At Umara, our designs use 14 and 18 karat gold to ensure they’re durable enough to be worn daily. Solid gold won’t tarnish or irritate your skin, and it is actually worth its weight in gold. 

  • Will retain original quality forever 
  • Minimal maintenance required
  • The higher the purity, the less likely it is to ever tarnish
  • An investment worth its weight in gold 


Which gold jewellery is tarnish-free?

While many brands may claim gold plated or vermeil jewellery won’t tarnish, only pure gold is truly tarnish-free. While it's unlikely with proper care and maintenance, solid gold may show signs of tarnishing over time because of the other metals its alloyed with can tarnish. However, the gold itself will never tarnish.

If you see the term tarnish-free associated with a gold-plated piece of jewellery, it’s too good to be true. While thicker plating will take longer to tarnish, no brand can say with certainty that it won’t.

Read our solid gold jewellery care guide.  

About Umara

While other brands markup products as much as 1000%, Umara exists to bridge the gap. We make quality jewellery attainable and aim to transform how consumers shop. When you shop with Umara, you choose quality investments minus unnecessary price tags.