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Daily Wire Tip Aug. 7: What is Vermeil?
Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
August 7, 2010
Could you tell me about vermeil? I have a bracelet that is marked 925 FAS and is gold in color. I was told it was vermeil–gold over silver.
-Penni in Lubbock, Texas
Vermeil (ver-may) is a French word that came into use in the English language in the 19th century for the much earlier term silver gilt. Vermeil is a combination of sterling silver, gold, and other precious metals. It is commonly used as a component in jewelry. A typical example is sterling silver coated with 18 karat gold. To be considered vermeil, the gold must also be at least 10 karat (42%) and be at least 1.5 micrometers thick. Sterling silver covered with any another metal cannot be called vermeil. Vermeil can be produced by either fire gilding or electrolysis.
The original fire-gilding vermeil process was developed in France in the mid-1700s. However, due to the high levels of mercury that the artisans were exposed to, resulting in blindness, France later banned the technique. Today, vermeil is safely produced through electrolysis.
I do have to caution those who would use and sell their handmade jewelry using vermeil components, though, as the gold coating is extremely thin and with regular wear, comes off very easily.
Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong
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