Gold plating quality and naming

Gold plated jewelry - Silver plated jewelry - Vermeil jewelry

Gold plated jewelry

Often known as gilded or gold-plated jewelry, are designs made of a base metal and coated with a thin layer of gold by electrolysis. It is not subject to any control standards, nor are the thickness and fineness of gold known. The product only has a golden color, which is usually not durable.

Gold plated silver jewelry

Practically identical to silver jewelry, but plated with a thin layer of gold. There is no quality standard, and producers can say whatever they want about the design. If it is jewelry of European origin stamped with a 925 and the designer’s hallmark, it is certain that the ring is solid silver, yet the thickness and fineness of gold is not known. When done well, the gold layer lasts for a long time. An advantage of this method is that it lowers the weight of the jewelry, large gold plated silver earrings are much lighter than gold ones. However, gold plated rings lose their color quickly, due to the thin gold layer being rubbed off.

Vermeil jewelry - What is Vermeil ?

Vermeil is a precious metal consisting of solid silver covered with a layer of gold with a minimum thickness of 5 microns and minimum fineness of 18 carats (750/1000). The silver must have a fineness of at least 800/1000 when used for cutlery or large items, 925/1000 otherwise. Vermeil has to be confirmed by the hallmark and the “V” feature. The presence of the “V” hallmark is a guarantee of compliance with the Vermeil standard and is subject to strict control by the French Assay Office (Bureau de la garantie). Gold plated jewelry made outside of France usually does not meet the Vermeil standard.In our first collections of Vermeil jewelry with amber, we commissioned the gold plating to a specialist French company. Due to a misunderstanding, we were unable to determine which company is responsible for stamping the “V” feature. During an inspection in one of the stores this was noticed and immediately resulted in a comprehensive inspection by the Bureau. After presenting the French invoice confirming the Vermeil gilding, we were published and obliged to withdraw the jewelry from stores in order to stamp the “V” hallmark. This proves how strict the regulations on precious metals are in France. This prompted us to cooperate with a specialist company that gold-plates our jewelry for many years.

The gold plating process

Currently, we perform gold and rhodium plating in our studio. We use modern technology from the German company Jentner. We perform gilding in several stages:
    After the silver is perfectly polished, we stamp the “V” feature and our hallmarkDegreasing in an ultrasonic cleanerElectrolytic degreasing - we use the “JE 610” salt bath (60 seconds, at about 10A/dm2)Neutralization / Activation - we use the “JE 820” bath. This bath neutralizes and ultimately eliminates all residues of other agents on the silver.Gilding - we use the AC JE 250 bath at 8 gr/L. To obtain a layer of 5 microns, during the electrolysis we use a current of 0.8A/dm2 for 40 minutes. The gold plating process must be precisely calculated and controlled to ensure compliance with the Vermeil standard, in order to not risk any serious problems.Final color - we use the Color Gold Bath 411 during electrolysis for 30 seconds.After drying, we perform careful quality control of the thickness, color, and the gold surface.
The gilding process requires high purity, accuracy, and strict adherence to the gilding process. The process must be performed by an honest person with extensive experience. Artipol guarantees the quality of the implementation of the “Vermeil” standard by stamping our own hallmark. The gold plate of earrings and pendants should never rub off, while the durability of gilded rings depends on how often they are used. We offer a two-year warranty , and even after the warranty expires, complaints about a damaged gold layer are very rare. In the case of any quality problems, our workshop will repair the gilding immediately.CAUTIONThe thickness of the gold plating is visually indistinguishable. During the gilding process, the product is already golden after just one minute. In countries where there are no strict standards for the quality of precious metals, companies can decrease the thickness and fineness of the gold. Gilding can often be used to mask the poor quality, purity, and composition of silver. Silver of unknown origin, repeatedly remelted, unrefined, and contaminated with nickel or other unknown impurities, can be plated with gold and stamped with 925 (as it doesn't guarantee anything). The thin layer of gold will wear off quickly, and customers may feel that the gold-plated silver has caused the allergy. An allergic effect to European silver and gold is very rare, most often it is an allergy to nickel present in silver of unknown origin. When the gold layer is rubbed off, the nickel ions come into contact with the skin, about 20% of the population will experience an allergic reaction, thinking it is an allergy to silver or gold. Sloppy cleaning, bad degreasing, or poorly selected electrolytic parameters quickly lead to contamination of the AC JE 250 bath, and instead of gold there will be stains and discoloration. In this case the final Color Gold Bath 411 will only mask the bad quality. A common practice in the production of low-cost Asian jewelry is to lighten or replenish spent gold by adding nickel to the gold bath. Using cheap technologies and products from non-reputable companies for gold plating guarantees quality and allergy problems. Often jewelry described as Vermeil, yet not conforming to the standard, can be found online. The only guarantee of Vermeil quality is buying jewelry marked with the “V” feature and confirmed by a hallmark registered in the French Assay Office (Bureau de la garantie). Vermeil is an old historical French standard, thus gilded jewelry made outside of France, most often does not meet the requirements of the Vermail standard.