Gold plated jewelry is a great way to add gold to your everyday wardrobe. It’s classy, you can dress it up or down, and it is affordable. Since there is only a very little bit of gold in the piece, it is important to take care of your gold plated jewelry. By doing this, you can avoid it tarnishing and keep it in tip-top shape.
How to Care for Gold Plated Jewelry
- Clean the jewelry when you notice it’s starting to lose its shine
- Avoid chemicals found in products like perfume or suncream
- Avoid getting gold plated jewelry wet
- Avoid salt water
- Store the jewelry in a jewelry box
For more detailed tips on how to care for gold plated jewelry, read on. In this article, you’ll find:
- What Is The Difference Between Gold Plated and Solid Gold Jewelry?
- Tips to Prevent Gold Plated Jewelry From Tarnishing or Fading
- How Often Should Gold Plated Jewelry Be Cleaned?
- How to Clean Gold Plated Jewelry? What Are The Best Materials to Use?
- How Long Should Gold Plated Jewelry Last?
- How Should Gold Plated Jewelry Be Stored for Long-Lasting Pieces?
What Is The Difference Between Gold Plated and Solid Gold Jewelry?
Gold-plated jewelry has an outside layer of gold on top of a non-gold metal, while solid gold jewelry is gold all the way through. Gold-plated jewelry is a much more affordable option than gold jewelry, and can look just as good, but it’s important to note that not all gold plating is created equally. There are a couple of approaches to plating and the coating can range from the equivalent of the first coat of spray paint (very thin) to extremely thick and therefore, less likely to tarnish or fade over time.
It can be hard to tell the thickness of the gold plating just by looking at pieces when you’re buying. A good brand should be able to tell you how many “microns” of gold they’ve used. The more gold they use, the better—but also, the more expensive.
Tips to Prevent Gold Plated Jewelry From Tarnishing or Fading
If you have a gold-plated piece just sitting on a table in a temperature-controlled room, chances are it will never fade. It’s when it’s exposed to the elements or chemicals that it can really be affected. This is when plating thickness and the metal underneath it really factor in.
Brass, for instance, is a very reactive metal and when it’s exposed to high levels of humidity or salt water (say you’re on a boat or at the beach), the brass can begin reacting and “breaking through” the plating. This is less likely to happen if a piece has thicker plating, but I wouldn't recommend wearing gold-plated pieces anywhere near salt water. Silver is another metal that does particularly poorly when exposed to salt water.
In humid environments—or in really hot climates where you’re more likely to be sweating or wearing sunblock—I would advise against wearing plated pieces directly against your skin. The salt from your sweat can break down the plating or react with the metal underneath it, especially if it's only thinly plated. You might wear a long necklace that hits your shirt rather than your neck, for example.
And finally, avoid spraying your plated pieces—or even solid gold pieces—directly with perfume. Depending on the perfume, the chemicals can create a reaction similar to oxidation, which basically means it can turn your gold black. It’s reversible, but can be a little shocking if you’re not expecting it!
How Often Should Gold Plated Jewelry Be Cleaned?
I recommend cleaning jewelry when you see the shine starting to dull, rather than at a specific frequency.
How to Clean Gold Plated Jewelry? What Are The Best Materials to Use?
For plated pieces, try to avoid liquid cleaners that contain a bunch of chemicals. Instead, use a jewelry polishing cloth. If your piece is tarnished and the cloth alone doesn’t remove it, try adding a little steam to it. You can just hold it over boiling water—or do what I do, and just breathe on it! Then polish from there.
And if it’s really bad, you might consider having the piece cleaned professionally or re-plated by the brand you purchased it from or a local jeweler.
How Long Should Gold Plated Jewelry Last?
Gold-plated jewelry can last forever with care. There’s no time limit that I know of for plating. It’s really a matter of keeping it away from the elements—salt water, sweat, and high humidity—and chemicals from cleaners or perfumes.
And if it does fade, there are always options to make it like new again through re-plating.
How Should Gold Plated Jewelry Be Stored for Long-Lasting Pieces?
I advise storing plated pieces in a jewelry box, rather than, say, hanging them on a wall out in the open. This way they will be less exposed to shifts in humidity and heat.
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