Here at Penner we only use two materials besides gemstones: gold filled (also known as 14/20) and vermeil (pronounced vehr-MAY). But what does that mean and what is the difference between the two?
What is gold filled?
Gold filled is a layer of real gold (we use 14k) that is pressure bonded to brass. It must be at least 5% gold by weight. This is very different from gold plating, which is electroplated or dipped in gold- this produces a very thin layer of gold that can come off quite easily with wear (the amount of gold not regulated). Gold filled has about 100x more gold than gold plated and can last many, many years.
What is gold vermeil?
Vermeil is sterling silver that is plated in a relatively thick layer of gold (usually 14k or 18k). The gold plating must be at least 2.5 microns thick (more than regular gold plated jewelry but less than gold filled). A pro of using vermeil is that it is a precious metal all the way through because of the sterling silver base.
Both gold filled and vermeil are high quality materials that can last a long time with appropriate care. Store your jewelry in an airtight bag to avoid humidity/oxidation. Remove jewelry before applying lotion, perfume, hairspray, etc. or before getting wet (and especially avoid contact with chlorine).