Daily Wire Tip Aug. 7: What is Vermeil?

By on August 6, 2010
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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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  1. avatar

    Frankie Harvener

    August 7, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    I thought vermeil was as stable and as good as gold filled wire. Is that not the case? In your answer you caution against using vermeil and I have not purchased vermeil wire, and now that you have informed me, I will just buy gold-filled when I need to have gold color.

    Thanks for this information. I am learning so much from your tip of the day.


  2. avatar

    Sherrie Lingerfelt

    August 7, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Over the years I have seen many beautiful components made with Vermeil and have been tempted to try it. The only thing that kept me from buying and using it is the fact it could flake or wear off, thus ruining a hand-made piece that would be difficult if not impossible to repair. I would not want one of my customers to be disappointed in a piece of my work.

  3. avatar


    August 8, 2010 at 12:52 am

    I have been using vermeil findings in earrings for over 10 years and sell several hundred of pairs each year. I have also begun selling vermeil neck chains for the past 2 to 3 years. I have never had a single complaint about any of these items. I have only noticed that occasionally the gold coating on a few vermeil headpins (maybe five out of HUNDREDS) have begun to peel off as I was working with them. Otherwise, no problems whatsoever!


  4. avatar


    August 9, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Vermeil pieces, like any other supply item,need to be purchased from a supplier whose quality you trust and value. I have had run ins on both sides of the coin, so you do have to shop wisely when using vermeil. I love the look of vermeil with pearls and crystals. If you have a good supplier, who backs their product, then you will not run into problems.

  5. avatar


    August 24, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    I have a vermeil pin that I bought about 40 years ago. It is a beautiful “lace” bow that I haven’t worn in more than 30 years because it has darkened considerably. I assume it is the silver tarnish showing thru. Is that correct and is there any way to get it back to its original appearance. I never bought vermeil again and don’t want to use it for that reason.