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Gold Care 101: How to Care for Solid Gold, Gold-Filled, Gold-Plated, and Gold Vermeil

Not all that glitters is solid gold! It’s important to understand the careful care instructions for solid gold, gold-filled, gold-plated, and gold vermeil.

You’re shopping for a new pair of earrings, and your goal is to find the perfect pair of gold hoops that you can wear not only to work and dinner out, but also in the shower, to your pilates class, and everywhere in between. You don’t want to feel like you have to carefully remove and store them — but you also don’t want to watch them tarnish.

Looking at the options, you’re not sure which to pick. Is it solid gold? Gold-filled? Gold-plated seems like a good price — could that be okay? What about gold vermeil?

Each type of gold jewelry has a different composition, and each one has specific care instructions that will help extend its lifespan as long as possible. 

But, spoiler, for your hoops that can go anywhere? You’ll want solid gold.

The Differences Between Solid Gold, Gold-Filled, Gold-Plated, and Gold Vermeil

Before knowing how to care for each type of gold, let’s talk about the differences between golds and how long each one lasts.

Solid Gold

Solid gold means exactly what it sounds like — it’s jewelry crafted from solid gold. Typically that means 14k or 18k, though you’ll sometimes see 10k as well. Solid gold jewelry is the only type of gold jewelry that can be worn regularly without worrying about tarnishing or color change. In the shower, around the town, it'll be fine. This is why solid gold is typically used for wedding bands and other pieces you don’t plan on taking off.


Gold-filled jewelry consists of a layer of solid gold bonded to another metal, and it can last for decades or longer with proper care. You’ll often find gold-filled vintage pieces that date back to midcentury or older, and these items are still in fabulous shape. If gold-filled jewelry has been kept away from water, chances are, it’ll retain its luster.


Gold-plated jewelry is made when a thin layer of gold plating is applied to another metal, often silver or brass. These pieces are not designed to last forever, and the plating will typically wear off over time. It’s best to buy items like earrings in a gold-plated finish since they’ll have less contact with your skin and the color won’t wear off as quickly.

Gold Vermeil

A thicker layer of gold is applied to sterling silver for gold vermeil pieces, which can resist tarnishing for years when carefully cared for.

How to Care for Different Types of Gold Jewelry

Given their varied lifespans and materials, there’s no universal way to care for different types of gold jewelry. Each one has slightly nuanced maintenance that will help it last as long as possible.

Solid Gold

Solid gold won’t ever lose its warm, shimmering color, but you should semi-regularly clean it with a gentle solution of dish soap and water, and and polish with a polishing cloth (we recommend Sunshine cloths!) 


Gold-filled jewelry shouldn’t get wet for best upkeep, however you can clean it occasionally with a damp cloth and gentle dish soap which will remove chemicals and body oils that may can cause it to darken in color. 


Avoid all chemicals and water with gold-plated pieces. However, you can occasionally wipe them with a clean dry cloth to remove any build-up of lotions or sweat.

Gold Vermeil

Protect gold vermeil from getting wet, store it in an airtight bag, and clean it occasionally with a microfiber cloth.

Shop Gold Jewelry

Now, back to those gold hoops. We have options for you no matter what type of gold upkeep you’re up for. There are the 18k gold Mini Crescent Earrings from Diana Mitchell (these are the kind you’ll never take off!), the affordable gold-plated Essential Hoops from Leah Alexandra, or the FAIL Oval Hoops, which come in at under $60 and they’re long-lasting gold-filled. 

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