9 or 18 carats? vermeil or gold plated? 1 or 3 microns? We have all heard these terms & it is not always obvious to know what they means.
And since "all that glitters is not gold", I have decided to write a post about it, so you are better informed next time you need to choose a jewel.
The carat is the unit used to measure purity precious metals. Pure gold is made of 24 carats. However, 24k gold is too soft to be transformed into a jewel. That's why other metals are added to it to make it more "resistant". This is called "alloy". For example, if a jewel is in 18K gold, that means it contains 18 gold parts for 6 alloy parts.
This is the most used and best known term. Gold plating consists of depositing a thin layer of gold on the surface of another metal (mostly brass). However, sometimes the amount of gold used is minimal, which means that your jewel will tend to tarnish faster over time.
Vermeil is gold-plated sterling silver. To be considered as vermeil, the jewel must be covered with pure gold of at least 10 carats and its thickness should be at least 2.5 microns. The Aurore Havenne jewels are in vermeil; they are 3 microns gold-plated sterling silver.
Vermeil or gold plated, which one to choose?
To determine the quality of a jewel, we often tend to refer to the number of carats. However, you must also pay attention to the thickness of the plating, measured in number of microns . A micron corresponds to a thousandth of a millimetre. If you want to keep your jewelry longer, it is preferable to choose a plating of 3 microns or more.
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