Demi-fine jewellery is a broad category, which means that the piece has an element of precious metals. Common brand examples of this would be Monica Vinader, Missoma, some of Pandora’s collections, Aligheri and Mejuri. It’s important to note here that each piece of demi-fine jewellery is not made the same, and it’s wise to pay attention to the terminology.
Gold plated refers to a thin layer of gold equal to or larger than 0.25 microns on top of a base metal. These are often inexpensive, and the most common example would be copper or brass. They’re quite similar to costume jewellery in the sense that they often don’t hold a lot of value and are fairly inexpensive compared to gold filled, but of course, you may experience large markups on price. What you’re mainly paying for with gold-plated jewellery are the design and the brand name.
Vermeil (pronounced ver-may) is gold layered on sterling silver, so it’s a combo of two precious metals. Therefore, there is more value here. With anything gold, you’ll have to replate it every so often, as gold naturally wears away. This can be anywhere around the 12-month mark and above, depending on whether it’s a ring compared to earrings (a ring will experience more friction) and the thickness of the gold coating. I have an assortment of gold-plated and vermeil jewellery, and to the naked eye, it’s impossible to tell the difference between them. However, you might notice that your gold-plated pieces will lose their lustre faster if it’s got a thinner coating.
Gold filled is perhaps the most “valuable” of all three, with solid gold at the very top. This ensures a minimum thickness of the precious metal at 5% of the item’s weight. The base metal can vary. You may have noticed that we’re discussing gold layers but not the purity of the metals, which leads me to my next tip!