Gold-Plated Brass Jewelry

If you're all about that luxe look without breaking the bank, then gold-plated brass is your new BFF. We're spilling the tea on this trendy material – from what it's made of to how to make it last. Let's dive in...

What is Gold-Plated Brass?

Gold-plated brass refers to a type of material that is made by applying a layer of gold onto the surface of brass through a process called electroplating. Brass is an alloy composed primarily of copper and zinc, which is known for its durability, malleability, and attractive golden color. However, brass can tarnish over time and may not have the same level of luster and luxury as pure gold.

To enhance the appearance and properties of brass, a thin layer of gold is electroplated onto its surface. Electroplating involves immersing the brass object (the substrate) into an electrolyte solution containing gold ions and then applying an electric current. This causes the gold ions to bond to the surface of the brass, creating a thin but consistent layer of gold.

Will Gold-Plated Brass Tarnish?

While gold-plated brass is more resistant to tarnishing compared to untreated brass, it can still tarnish over time, especially if the gold plating is thin or of lower quality. Tarnishing occurs when the surface of the metal reacts with elements in the environment, such as moisture, oxygen, sulfur, and pollutants. This reaction can result in the formation of a dull, discolored layer on the surface of the metal, diminishing its shine and luster.

The gold plating on gold-plated brass provides a layer of protection against tarnishing, as gold itself is highly resistant to corrosion and tarnish. However, if the gold plating is very thin or if the object is subjected to frequent wear or exposure to harsh conditions, the brass underneath the gold layer can start to react with the environment, leading to tarnishing.

Does Gold-Plated Brass Fade?

Yes, over time, the gold plating on gold-plated brass items can fade or wear off. The rate at which fading occurs on gold-plated brass depends on several factors, including the quality of the gold plating, the thickness of the gold layer, how often the item is worn, how well it's cared for, and the wearer's activities and body chemistry.

Is Gold-Plated Brass Hypoallergenic?

Gold-plated brass itself is not inherently hypoallergenic, as some individuals with sensitive skin may still experience allergic reactions or skin irritations when wearing gold-plated brass jewelry. Hypoallergenic materials are those that are less likely to cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

The potential for an allergic reaction from gold-plated brass jewelry arises from a few factors:

  1. Underlying Metals: Brass is an alloy primarily composed of copper and zinc. Some people may be sensitive or allergic to copper, and when the gold plating wears off or becomes thin, the underlying brass alloy could come into contact with the skin and cause irritation.
  2. Nickel Content: In some cases, brass alloys may contain traces of nickel, which is a common allergen. Nickel allergies are relatively common, and exposure to even small amounts of nickel can cause skin reactions.
  3. Quality of Plating: The thickness and quality of the gold plating play a role in how long the gold-plated surface remains intact. If the plating wears off quickly, the underlying metals could interact with the skin and potentially cause irritation.

To address the potential for allergic reactions, some manufacturers may take steps to make their gold-plated brass jewelry more hypoallergenic:

  1. Nickel-Free Alloys: Using brass alloys that are specifically formulated to be nickel-free can help reduce the risk of nickel-related allergies.
  2. Barrier Layers: Some manufacturers apply a layer of nickel or another hypoallergenic material between the brass and the gold plating to provide an additional barrier against skin contact with the underlying alloy.
  3. Higher-Quality Plating: Thicker and higher-quality gold plating can extend the period during which the brass is in contact with the skin, reducing the likelihood of skin reactions.
  4. Sealing: Applying a clear protective coating over the gold plating can help prevent direct contact between the skin and the underlying brass.

Does Gold-Plated Brass Turn Skin Green?

Yes, it is possible for gold-plated brass jewelry to cause the skin to turn green, especially if the gold plating wears off or becomes thin over time. The green discoloration that sometimes appears on the skin when wearing certain types of jewelry is a reaction between the metal and the natural oils and acids on the skin.

The greenish color is typically the result of the interaction between the copper content in the brass alloy and the acids and salts on the skin. Copper can react with these substances to form copper salts, which have a greenish-blue color. When the gold plating on gold-plated brass jewelry wears off or becomes thin, the underlying brass can come into contact with the skin, leading to this discoloration.

Can Gold-Plated Brass Get Wet?

While gold-plated brass is more resistant to tarnishing and corrosion compared to untreated brass, it is still advisable to avoid exposing it to excessive moisture and water. Water and moisture can potentially accelerate the wearing off of the gold plating, especially if it's of lower quality or if the item is subjected to frequent contact with wet conditions. Here are some guidelines regarding water exposure for gold-plated brass items:

  1. Limited Contact: It's generally best to minimize the contact between gold-plated brass items and water. This includes activities like swimming, showering, washing dishes, or participating in water-related sports.
  2. Remove Before Water Activities: To preserve the integrity of the gold plating, it's recommended to remove gold-plated brass jewelry and accessories before engaging in activities involving water.
  3. Drying: If your gold-plated brass item does come into contact with water, be sure to thoroughly dry it afterward. Moisture trapped between the jewelry and the skin can contribute to the wearing off of the gold plating.
  4. Chemicals in Water: Water from swimming pools, hot tubs, and the ocean can contain chemicals, chlorine, and salt, which can potentially affect the gold plating and the underlying brass. Removing jewelry before swimming is a good precaution.
  5. Long-Term Exposure: Prolonged exposure to water, especially if the water is salty or chlorinated, can lead to the gold plating deteriorating more quickly.
  6. Storage: When not wearing your gold-plated brass items, store them in a dry and protected place, away from moisture and humidity.

While it's not necessary to panic if your gold-plated brass jewelry accidentally gets wet, consistently exposing it to water can reduce the lifespan of the gold plating and affect its appearance over time.

Can You Shower in Gold-Plated Brass?

It's generally advisable to avoid showering while wearing gold-plated brass jewelry or accessories. While gold-plated brass is more resistant to tarnishing and corrosion compared to untreated brass, prolonged exposure to water, soaps, shampoos, and other shower products can still contribute to the wearing off of the gold plating over time.

Showering involves not only water but also various chemicals present in soaps, shampoos, and body washes. These substances can interact with the gold plating and potentially accelerate its deterioration. 

To help preserve the appearance and longevity of your gold-plated brass items, it's recommended to remove them before showering. Here are some tips:

  1. Take Off Jewelry: Before stepping into the shower, remove any gold-plated brass jewelry, including rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings.
  2. Store Safely: Place your jewelry in a dry and safe location while you shower. Consider using a designated jewelry dish or container.
  3. Dry Thoroughly: After your shower, be sure to dry your jewelry completely before putting it back on. Moisture trapped between the jewelry and your skin can contribute to the degradation of the gold plating.
  4. Avoid Repeated Exposure: While occasional accidental exposure to water may not cause immediate harm, repeatedly showering with gold-plated brass items can lead to faster deterioration of the gold plating.

How Long Does Gold-Plated Brass Last?

The lifespan of gold-plated brass can vary widely depending on several factors, including the quality of the initial plating, the thickness of the gold layer, how often the item is worn, how well it's cared for, and the individual's body chemistry. On average, gold-plated brass jewelry can last anywhere from several months to a few years before the gold plating starts to show signs of wear or tarnishing.

Here are some factors that can influence the longevity of gold-plated brass:

  1. Quality of Plating: Higher-quality gold plating, which is applied more evenly and with a thicker layer, tends to last longer than lower-quality plating.
  2. The Thickness of Gold Layer: The thickness of the gold layer determines how quickly the underlying brass will be exposed. Thicker gold layers are more durable and can extend the lifespan of the plating.
  3. Frequency of Wear: Jewelry that is worn daily or exposed to frequent friction is more likely to experience wear and tear, leading to faster degradation of the gold plating.
  4. Contact with Moisture and Chemicals: Exposure to water, sweat, perfumes, lotions, and household chemicals can accelerate the wearing off of the gold plating.
  5. Proper Care: Regular cleaning and proper storage can help extend the life of gold-plated brass items. Gently wiping the jewelry with a soft cloth and storing it in a dry place can prevent tarnishing and wear.
  6. Individual Factors: Skin pH, body chemistry, and personal habits can all influence how quickly the gold plating wears off. Some people's skin may react more strongly with the underlying brass, leading to faster degradation.

Is Gold-Plated Brass Good?

Gold-plated brass jewelry offers a plethora of advantages, especially for those who want to enjoy the allure of gold without breaking the bank. Let's delve deeper into the aesthetic appeal of gold-plated brass jewelry:

  1. Aesthetic Appeal: Gold-plated brass jewelry provides the luxurious and radiant appearance of solid gold at a more affordable price point. This allows consumers to achieve a high-end look without the additional cost associated with fine jewelry.
  2. Cost-Effective: Gold-plated brass jewelry is significantly more affordable than solid gold. This makes it accessible to a broader range of consumers who desire the look of gold without the premium price.
  3. Durability: Brass is a durable alloy that can withstand everyday wear and tear. The gold plating adds an extra layer of protection against tarnishing and corrosion.


In conclusion, gold-plated brass jewelry strikes a harmonious balance between beauty and budget. It allows wearers to indulge in the captivating glow of gold without making a significant financial commitment. Its inherent durability, combined with the allure of gold, offers a trendy and timeless aesthetic appeal. While it does require care to maintain its brilliance, the charm and versatility it offers make it an attractive choice for many jewelry enthusiasts. Whether you're seeking a fashion-forward statement piece or a timeless accessory, gold-plated brass offers an accessible and stylish solution.