How to pick your gold jewellery...

chunky gold hoop earring prouds
We all know that feeling ~ when you finally find those “sit-just-right-make-me-feel-great” gold hoops, or the necklace you didn't know you needed.. you're ready to checkout, only to find yourself five pages into a google when the hoop says “vermeil”, “gold filled” or “18k ceramic plated”.
All these fancy words, changing terms... 

What's the difference between gold-plated jewellery, gold vermeil, gold-filled and gold jewellery? How do you make sure your gold-tone jewellery keeps its colour for more than a week?

There are many techniques for producing gold and gold-toned jewellery; some contain more gold and keep their bright, full-bodied finish a lot longer than others.. 

Our guide will teach you how to shop smart, ALWAYS get value for money jewellery and provide you with the clarity, and confidence, for all your future self-lovin’ moments. 


Flash Plated Jewellery


Buyer beware... this low quality jewellery is not designed to last. ⚠️

What it is: 

Made with an extremely thin layer of gold  (<0.175 microns) that is applied through electroplating, this is the lowest quality of plating available. The base material is usually cheap such as like brass, the layer of gold will wear away quickly, leaving the piece looking dirty or tarnished after only a few wears.

Where you can find it:

Commonly found in fast fashion and costume jewellery - you can identify flash-plating as pieces will not be labelled with any indication of how it's been plated.

Value for money:

Though very cheap, flash plated jewellery won’t last more than a few wears. Not a good investment.

A word of advice: 

Sensitive skin? Flash plating often uses nickel in the base, so it is prone to itching and dis-colouration of skin!


Gold Plated Jewellery


A step-up from flash plating, but expect a short love-story. 

What it is: 

'Gold plating' is a catch-all term for the process in which a layer of gold is bonded to a base metal by dipping the metal into a special chemical solution and zapping it with an electric current, attracting and adhering gold ions to the metal. To be considered gold plated, the gold layer should measure at least 0.5 microns (a micron is one millionth of a meter, for context); the thicker the gold layer, the longer it maintains its finish. In practice, most jewellery companies will usually only plate with 0.5 microns, to keep costs low.

Where you can find it: 

Cheaper department store brands and many independent brands sell gold plated jewellery.

Value for money: 

The price of gold plated pieces can vary, mostly due to the thickness of the plating. Ensure you check this and remember, the thicker the plating, the longer the gold layer will last!


Gold-filled Jewellery


An old-fashioned and largely out-dated technique that's usually more expensive than it's worth. 

What it is: 

At first, tis sounds like it would be the next best thing to solid gold—your jewellery is full of gold, right?!

But it’s actually a misnomer, as it means that a thin sheet of gold is mechanically bonded to the outside of a core material (usually copper). Where gold plating is measured in thickness, gold-filled jewellery is measured in weight; the gold layer must contribute at least 5% to the item’s total weight.

This is an old-fashioned technique from the early 1900s that is no longer used by modern manufacturers because it is time-intensive and expensive to produce while yielding a product that is typically inferior to gold-plated jewellery. Like gold-plated jewellery, the gold layer will eventually wear away and the only way to replate it is to use electroplating (i.e. turning it into a gold-plated product).

Where to find it: 

Coming back into popularity, many small online businesses have begun using this old method; be wary of imposters, tarnishing and skin-irritation.  

Value for money:

True gold-filled jewellery is generally a bit more expensive than gold-plated jewellery with similar base materials because it’s not as economical to manufacture.


Gold Vermeil Jewellery


A high quality version of gold plating that is a great balance of long-lasting wear and affordability.  

Warning: does not necessarily apply to Canadian brands, which can market lower-quality gold-plated items as "gold vermeil".

What it is: 

Vermeil (pronounced vehr-may), is a high quality version of gold plating that uses sterling silver (aka 925 silver) as the base metal. Consumer protection agencies regulate the label to ensure a layer of gold is at least 2.5 microns thick. Gold Vermeil is a brilliant durable and skin-friendly option that holds the brilliant lustre you find in solid gold jewellery.

Beware of buying "gold vermeil" from companies based in Canada, as the requirements are much lower for using this term, and you are probably getting a product that is much lower quality (60% less gold) than you expect.

Where to find it: 

Higher-end brands. (We also sell it here!)

Value for money: 

Gold vermeil is more expensive than flash- and gold plated jewellery as sterling silver is utilised for the core material and contains a much higher level and quality of  gold (unless it's Canadian "gold vermeil"). For those who don’t have the budget for solid gold, vermeil is fantastic balance of long-lasting wear and affordability. 

Lilou ensures all out gold vermeil products use 14k or 18k gold and all plating is 2.5 - 3+ microns, and all metals follow our sustainability practices of being ethically sourced + 100% recycled.  (Note that Lilou's gold vermeil jewellery is cheaper than or comparably priced to most other brands’ lower-quality gold plated jewellery!)


In summary: 

If you're buying jewelelry that you want to enjoy for years, you should look for gold vermeil or solid gold.

Flash and gold plated jewellery's price tag can be tempting, but it won't last long; with some pieces deteriorating after just one wear. 

At Lilou, we're committed to delivering excellent quality products and excellent value for your money. This is why we only sell true gold vermeil, with a minimum of 2.5 microns of gold and ethically sourced, recycled materials.  You'll see that we sell our gold vermeil pieces for a cheaper or similar price to most brands selling lower-quality flash plated, gold plated or gold filled pieces. We want to make it a no-brainer for you to choose better quality; for you, and the earth!  🍃


 We hope this helps! XX
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