The question of whether gold-plated jewelry can withstand water exposure is a common concern among jewelry wearers. Gold-plated jewelry offers an affordable and stylish alternative to solid gold pieces, but its thin layer of gold may raise doubts about its durability when exposed to water. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the effects of water on gold-plated jewelry, how it can impact its appearance and longevity, and essential tips for proper care to ensure your gold-plated pieces stay radiant for years to come.

Understanding Gold Plating:

Gold plating is a process that involves depositing a thin layer of gold onto the surface of a base metal, such as brass or copper. The gold layer is measured in microns and typically ranges from a few to several microns thick. The base metal provides the structure and strength of the jewelry piece, while the gold layer gives it the desired appearance of gold.

The purity of the gold used in the plating process is often indicated by a karat mark, such as 18k or 24k. Keep in mind that the higher the karat, the purer the gold content in the plating. For example, 24k gold plating contains a higher percentage of pure gold (100%) compared to 18k gold plating.

Effects of Water on Gold-Plated Jewelry:

While gold-plated jewelry is generally resistant to tarnishing and corrosion, exposure to water can have several effects on the gold layer and the base metal:

  1. Discoloration: Water exposure can cause the gold-plated layer to tarnish or become discolored over time, especially if the gold plating is of lower quality or thickness.
  2. Fading: Prolonged exposure to water, particularly if the water contains chlorine or other harsh chemicals, can cause the gold layer to fade, revealing the base metal underneath.
  3. Corrosion of Base Metal: While the gold layer itself is resistant to corrosion, the base metal beneath it may be susceptible to damage from water and moisture.

How to Care for Gold-Plated Jewelry When Wet:

While it's best to minimize exposing gold-plated jewelry to water, it is possible to take precautions and care for your pieces when they do get wet:

  1. Remove Before Water Activities: To protect your gold-plated jewelry, remove it before engaging in activities that involve water, such as swimming, bathing, or washing dishes.
  2. Dry Thoroughly: If your jewelry does get wet, make sure to dry it thoroughly with a soft, lint-free cloth. Avoid rubbing the jewelry vigorously, as it may cause the gold layer to wear off.
  3. Avoid Chemical Exposure: Do not expose gold-plated jewelry to harsh chemicals or cleaning agents, as they can further damage the gold layer.
  4. Store Properly: When not wearing your gold-plated jewelry, store it in a dry and safe place, away from moisture and direct sunlight. Consider using a jewelry box or pouch for added protection.
  5. Rotate Jewelry: To minimize wear and tear, consider rotating your jewelry pieces.


While gold-plated jewelry can add a touch of elegance and style to your accessories collection, it requires proper care to maintain its appearance and longevity. Water exposure can affect the gold layer and the base metal, potentially causing discoloration or fading.

To ensure your gold-plated pieces stay radiant, it's best to remove them before engaging in water-related activities and dry them thoroughly if they do get wet. Proper care and storage will help your gold-plated jewelry retain its beauty, allowing you to enjoy its allure for years to come. Thanks for reading!