How to Clean Gold-Plated Jewelry

3 Piece Bangle Set
Crystal Wrap Bracelet

 

Gold-plated jewelry is a beautiful and affordable way to enjoy the look of gold without the expensive price tag. However, gold-plated jewelry can lose its luster over time if not properly cared for. Luckily, cleaning gold-plated jewelry is relatively simple and only requires a few household ingredients that you likely already have on hand. With a little time and effort, you can have your gold-plated jewelry looking as good as new in no time! Read on for a few quick tips on cleaning gold-plated jewelry.

 

How Often Should You Clean Your Gold-Plated Jewelry?

 

Cleaning plated jewelry too often can actually damage it. You should only clean gold-plated jewelry when it looks dull or dirty. If you wear your jewelry every day, you may need to clean it once a week. If you only wear it occasionally, you can probably get away with cleaning it once a month.


After wearing your gold-plated jewelry, carefully wipe it down with a microfiber cloth to remove smudges and dirt. After contact with chlorine, alcohol, and acids, a more thorough cleaning is best since these chemicals cause the base metals to tarnish.

 

How to Clean Plated Jewelry:

 

If your plated jewelry looks a little lackluster, give it a good cleaning! You can easily clean your gold jewelry at home with just a few simple household ingredients. Follow these steps, and you'll have sparkling clean jewelry.

 

Supplies:

 

  • All-natural liquid soap
  • Warm Water
  • Small bowl
  • Clean, microfiber cloth
  • Cotton ball
  • Cotton swab

Cleaning Instructions:

Mix a Cleaning Solution

 

  • If the plated pieces are contaminated with visible soil or feel sticky, it is best to clean them using a warm, soapy solution. In a small bowl, combine one cup of warm water and a few drops of all-natural dishwashing detergent.
  • Avoid hot water and harsh chemicals when cleaning your jewelry, as this can cause the layer of gold to break down and peel away.

 

Soak the Jewelry

  • Place the jewelry in soapy water and soak for 10 minutes unless the pieces feature gems, pearls, or enamel. To avoid scratches, do not clean your entire jewelry collection at once; clean only one piece at a time.

 

Tackle Embedded Soil

  • Use a cotton swab to clean any surface soil from small crevices for intricately carved items.
  • Or, use a soft toothbrush, not a knife or paper clip, to gently scrub away gunk. You can scratch away the gold layer if you use a sharp object.

 

Rinse, Dry, and Buff

  • Rinse the jewelry in warm running water. Dry with a lint-free, soft cloth.

 

Wipe Down After Each Wear

  • After each usage, clean your jewelry by wiping down each jewelry piece with a damp cotton ball or microfiber cloth to remove body oils and dirt. Allow the jewelry to air-dry before placing the pieces away in storage.


How to Clean Embellished Gold-Plated Jewelry:

 

If your plated jewelry showcases valuable or semi-precious stones, you should avoid soaking the pieces in water for prolonged periods. Instead of soaking, use a damp cotton ball soaked in the dishwashing liquid + water cleaning solution to clean the pieces. Gently rub and then rinse with plain water; dry and buff each piece after rinsing it.

 


How to Correct Cleaning Mistakes on Gold-Plated Jewelry:

 

Dull gold jewelry can result from using harsh jewelry cleaners. Many commercial jewelry cleaners contain chemicals that can strip away the plating revealing the base metal. If you must use a cleanser, opt for one that is safe for plated jewelry and follow the instructions on the bottle to avoid damaging your pieces.

If your jewelry pieces appear dull after cleaning them with soft toothpaste, silver polish, or other harsh jewelry cleaners, combine two to three drops of all-natural dishwashing liquid and a warm water solution and soak them for five minutes. Use a soft cloth to wipe away any remaining film from previous cleaners. Gently rub to avoid removing the gold and allow them to air-dry.

Sometimes, dull gold jewelry results from a plating that's too thin. When this happens, the jeweler can re-plate your jewelry with a thicker layer of gold. This process will transform your non-shiny gold into having a brilliant, long-lasting luster.

Other causes of non-shiny gold include a build-up of lotions, oils, and sweat on the surface of the metal. To correct this problem, clean your jewelry more frequently. Gently wipe them down with a jewelry cloth after each wear, and give them a deeper clean once a week using the dishwashing liquid and water solution.


Can You Polish Gold Plated Jewelry?

 

You can, but we do not recommend it. Plated and solid gold jewelry are not the same. Polishing plated jewelry can damage the layer of gold and cause it to wear away more quickly.

If you must polish gold-plated jewelry, use a lint-free cloth dampened with a gentle, all-natural polishing liquid. Then, apply the agent to the jewelry cloth, not directly to the jewelry, and then rub it gently in a circular motion. Next, rinse the jewelry in lukewarm water and dry with a soft, clean cloth when you're finished. It is ok to polish gold-plated jewelry once in a while to restore shine, but be sure not to do it too often, as it will damage the thin layer of gold.

Unlike solid gold, a thin layer of the metal rubs off every time you buff a gold plate. Over time, this can cause the plating to become very thin and frail or take on a weird tapered shape. If you're going to buff your gold-plated jewelry, do so very gently and as little as possible.


Is Gold Plated the Same as Gold Vermeil and Gold-Filled Jewelry?

No, plated jewelry is not the same as gold vermeil or gold-filled jewelry. Gold plated pieces consist of a thin gold player painted onto a base metal, while vermeil is made by bonding a top layer to sterling silver. Gold-filled jewelry is made by bonding a thick layer of gold to a base metal. All three types of jewelry consist of gold layers, but they are not the same.

Gold-filled jewelry is the most durable of the three types of jewelry, followed by vermeil and then gold plated. Gold-plated jewelry has the thinnest layer of gold and is the least durable; however, all three types of jewelry can last a long time with proper care.

 


Cleaning vs. Replating

It can be confusing when deciding whether to clean or get your jewelry replated. If you think your jewelry might need replating, take it to a professional jeweler for evaluation.

Some factors that contribute to the need for replating are listed below:

-The gold coat is wearing thin in spots or flaking off entirely.

-The jewelry is discolored or dull.

-It has scratches or other damage.

-The jewelry is starting to show signs of tarnish.

-it's been a while since you've had it done – typically 12 to 18 months.

 

If you're not sure whether your jewelry needs replating, it's always best to take it to a professional jeweler for evaluation. They will be able to tell you for sure and recommend the best course of action. Replating will help restore the jewelry's original luster and protect it from further wear and tear.

 

Caring for Gold-Plated Jewelry:

 

The greatest thing you can do to help plated jewelry retain its radiance for as long as possible is to take preventative measures to avoid harm.

  • Before handling gold-plated jewelry, make sure your hands are clean of lotions, make-up, and perfumes. This is important because these products can cause the gold to tarnish more quickly. Make-up, in particular, can cause gold-plated earrings to turn a greenish color.
  • Remove plated pieces while swimming in salt-water pools or chlorinated pools. Wearing plated jewelry while swimming in chlorinated or salt-water pools can cause the gold plating to tarnish quickly.
  • Avoid wearing gold-plated jewelry before working out or when sweaty. Body oils contain high salt levels, which can cause the metal to corrode over time.
  • It's essential to store gold-plated jewelry in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight or artificial light. It would help to keep each piece of jewelry in a separate compartment in a jewelry box lined with fabric to prevent scratching against each other. Avoid storing jewelry in a bag or mixing it with other metals, as precious metals are easily scratched.
  • Do not mix gold and silver plated jewelry together when storing them. The different metals can cause each other to tarnish more quickly.
  • Storing your jewelry in an airtight container is also an excellent way to protect it from tarnishing. Sulfur compounds in the air can cause gold to tarnish quickly, so it's important to keep it sealed in an airtight container when not in use. You can find airtight containers at most craft stores.
  • Silica gel packets can also help absorb moisture and prevent tarnishing. Place one packet in the container with your jewelry to help keep it dry.
  • When preparing acidic foods, such as lemon juice or vinegar, remove your gold-plated jewelry to avoid contact between the acid and the metal.
  • Remove gold-plated pieces while cleaning with harsh chemicals. The chemicals can strip the gold plating from the jewelry revealing the base metal. Some of the worst chemicals found in cleaning solutions are ammonia, chlorine, bleach, etc.
  • We do not recommend an ultrasonic machine for cleaning gold-plated jewelry. The ultrasonic waves generated by an ultrasonic cleaner can cause the plating to vibrate, loosening the bond between the gold and the base metal. In addition, the cleaning solution used in an ultrasonic cleaner can strip away the gold plating. It is also harmful to set stones, as it can loosen them from their setting.
  • Using a professional steamer is also not recommended to clean gold-plated jewelry as steam can loosen the glue that holds some pieces together, or you can cause rusting.


Wrapping Up

 

Gold plating is an excellent way to enjoy the look of solid gold jewelry without the high price tag. The key to keeping it looking its best is to take a few steps to prevent tarnish while cleaning gold-plated pieces regularly and carefully. Your gold-plated jewelry will retain its beauty for years with a little care!