I thought I should jump into the Vermeil discussion. Vermeil is a
heavy 24K plating over sterling silver. It is distinguished from
regular plating by the fact that no base metals are used such a
copper or nickel and by the weight of the plating. I have seen two
figures over the years for the thickness required to call a plating
Vermeil, 50 mils and 100 mils. Both are very heavy plating. The
problem with plating is, you have to rely on the honesty of the
plater. Most are honest but a few are not. I certainly don’t have the
X-ray equipment required to determine how thick the plating actually
is. The more gold on the work, the better the durability, but the
cost to the plater also increases. I have occasionally had work
evaluated with shocking results. The public also cannot tell The
thickness until the plating wears out and as a result I have
sometimes found customers are hesitant to buy plated goods, having
been burned in the past. I do a little talk about Vermeil and they
usually feel better.
To answer your findings question, I don’t often see Vermeil findings.
The reason is as others have observed, that plating, even Vermeil
burns off with soldering heat. I suppose you could Sparkie them on if
you had to. What is much more common and practical is gold filled
findings. In gold filled material two or three layers of sheet are
fused or soldered together and then milled out. Generally this stock
of wire or sheet is 1/20 14K by weight over a base metal. It can be
soldered well but a little care must be taken with any abrasive
process. It also roller prints well. Gold filled findings provide a
way to have the color of gold for less cost. That said, in my own
work I prefer the real banana and feel it is worth the extra cost.
Gold filled stock often gets very soft when annealed.
One other alternative exists, that I know of. About 16 years ago I
developed a stock of 1/20 18K over sterling and found a manufacturer,
Stern Leach to make it for me. I threw this stuff open to the field
and now Hauser and Miller in St. Louis distributes it. I am pretty
sure they still get it from Stern Leach. It is very nice to work
with, all precious, and I prefer the 18K color to 14K. It is usually
$25-$30 an ounce.
Reactive metals also sells a beautiful 22K bi-metal product which is
1/8 gold. Of course at 1/8 gold it is much more expensive, but you
cannot beat that 22K color and it is cheaper than pure gold sheet. I
think Philip Baldwin manufactures it for them. I hope this answers
your questions and you find what you are looking for.