Gold has been a coveted precious metal for centuries due to its beauty, rarity, and durability. However, solid gold can be quite expensive, making gold-plated jewelry a more affordable option for many people. But with gold-plated jewelry, the question often arises: will it tarnish? In this article, we will explore the topic of whether or not 18K gold-plated jewelry tarnishes and what factors can affect its lifespan and appearance.



Gold plating is a process where a metal, such as silver or brass, is electroplated with a thin layer of pure gold, giving the jewelry piece a shiny golden appearance and preventing tarnishing. In simpler terms, gold-plated jewelry is not solid gold but rather an item with a thin layer (0.5 to 2.0 microns thick) of pure gold. 18k gold plating usually contains 75% pure gold mixed with 25% other alloy metals. 


Yes, 18K gold-plated jewelry can tarnish over time. The base metal used in the jewelry can react with moisture, air, and chemicals in the environment, causing the gold plating to wear off and tarnish. There are several factors that can contribute to 18k gold tarnish. Here are a few:

1) Exposure to Moisture: Moisture can cause the gold plating to oxidize and tarnish over time. This can happen when wearing the jewelry while swimming, showering, or even sweating.

2) Contact with Chemicals: Certain chemicals found in household cleaners, perfumes, and skin care products can react with the gold plating and cause it to tarnish or wear off. 

3) Friction and Abrasion: The gold plating can wear off with repeated friction or abrasion, such as when wearing jewelry while doing activities that involve a lot of movement or contact.

4) The pH level of Skin: The pH level of your skin can also affect the lifespan of the gold plating. Skin that is more acidic can cause gold plated tarnish to develop quickly.

5) Quality of the Gold Plating: The quality of the gold plating can also play a role in how quickly 18k gold tarnish develops. Higher-quality plating will generally last longer and be more resistant to tarnishing than lower-quality plating.

It's important to note that while these factors can contribute to 18k gold tarnish, proper care and maintenance can help prolong the life and appearance of 18-karat gold-plated jewelry.


Here are some tips to help prevent 18K gold-plated jewelry from tarnishing:

1) Avoid exposure to water and moisture: Moisture can cause the base metal to react with the gold plating and lead to tarnishing. So, avoid wearing your jewelry when you are swimming, showering, or doing any water-related activities.

2) Avoid exposure to chemicals: Harsh chemicals like perfumes, hairsprays, lotions, and cleaning agents can damage the gold plating and cause tarnishing. So, it's best to apply these products before wearing your jewelry and allow them to dry completely before putting on your jewelry.

3) Clean your jewelry regularly: Clean your 18K gold-plated jewelry regularly with a soft cloth to remove any dirt or dust that may have accumulated on it. You can use a mild soap solution or a jewelry cleaning solution to clean your jewelry.

4) Avoid wearing your jewelry during physical activities: Physical activities such as exercising or sports can cause sweat and moisture to accumulate on your jewelry, leading to tarnishing. So, it's best to remove your jewelry before engaging in any physical activities.

5) Have your jewelry re-plated: If your gold-plated jewelry starts to tarnish or wear off, consider having it professionally re-plated to restore its original shine and protect it from further tarnishing.

By following these tips, you can help prevent 18K gold-plated jewelry from tarnishing and keep it looking shiny and new for longer.


To store 18K gold-plated jewelry and prevent tarnishing, you should follow these steps:

1) Keep it dry: Moisture and humidity can cause gold-plated jewelry to tarnish quickly. Store your jewelry in a dry place, away from water sources and humidity.

2) Avoid exposure to air: Oxygen in the air can cause gold-plated jewelry to tarnish, so it's best to store it in an airtight container or a ziplock bag with all the air squeezed out.

3) Store it separately: To prevent scratches and damage, store your gold-plated jewelry separately from other jewelry pieces. You can use a soft pouch or a jewelry box with compartments to keep each piece organized.

4) Keep it away from heat and light: Exposure to heat and direct sunlight can damage the gold plating and cause it to fade or discolor. Store your jewelry in a cool, dark place, such as a closet or a drawer.

5) Use anti-tarnish strips: Anti-tarnish strips, made from activated carbon, can absorb moisture and sulfur compounds that cause tarnishing. Place a strip in the storage container or pouch with your gold-plated jewelry to help prevent tarnishing.



To clean 18K gold-plated jewelry and prevent tarnishing, you should follow these steps:

1) Use a soft cloth: Avoid using harsh or abrasive materials that can scratch the gold plating. Instead, use a soft, lint-free cloth to gently wipe the jewelry clean.

2) Avoid chemicals: Harsh chemicals found in cleaning products, perfumes, hairsprays, and lotions can cause the gold plating to wear off or tarnish. It's best to avoid contact with these chemicals and clean your jewelry before applying them.

3) Use mild soap and water: If your jewelry needs a deeper clean, use mild soap and lukewarm water to clean it gently. Avoid soaking the jewelry, and dry it thoroughly with a soft cloth.

4) Use a baking soda paste: To remove stubborn tarnish, you can make a paste with baking soda and water and use a soft cloth to gently rub the jewelry. Rinse the jewelry with water, and dry it thoroughly with a soft cloth.

5) Have it professionally cleaned: If your gold-plated jewelry is heavily tarnished or damaged, consider having it professionally cleaned and polished by a jeweler to restore its shine and prevent further tarnishing.



So, does 18k gold-plated tarnish? Yes, it can. Even while 18k gold is of greater quality than 14k or 10k gold, it can oxidize and become discolored with time. Take precautions to shield your gold jewelry from the elements and clean your pieces frequently to keep them looking their best for as long as possible. Your 18k gold-plated jewelry should last you for many years if you take good care of it.