Vermeil

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A small oval vermeil box - American, circa 1890's. Photo Courtesy of Lang Antiques.

Vermeil refers to a heavy plating of karat gold over sterling silver. Historically it was a chemical coloring applied to mercury-gilded objects to produce a red or yellow color.

From the FTC guides:
An industry product may be described or marked as "vermeil" if it consists of a base of sterling silver coated or plated on all significant surfaces with gold, or gold alloy of not less than 10 karat fineness, that is of substantial thickness and a minimum thickness throughout equivalent to two and one half (2 1/2) microns (or approximately 100/1,000,000ths of an inch) of fine gold.

Lang Antiques
Lang Antiques