Of all the accessories out there, both modern and traditional, gold jewelry is one of the best and most popular ways to take even a simple look to a whole new level.
Timelessly stylish, reflective in the sunlight, and effortlessly elegant, gold jewelry commands respect — but the price tags of solid gold jewelry are not always in line with everyone’s budget. This is where gold-plated jewelry comes in as the perfect secondary option.
However, being different from solid gold jewelry, gold-plated jewelry requires a different level of care when cleaning and polishing up. Let’s take a look at what exactly gold-plated jewelry is and discuss four great tips to keep these glimmering accents squeaky clean for the long haul.
What Does “Gold-Plated” Mean?
If you could break jewelry up into three tiers, the more affordable costume jewelry easily found at the mall or in street markets would be on the lower tier.
Costume jewelry is often made of plastic that has been painted gold and is adorned with man-made stones. The most budget-friendly option, costume jewelry, unfortunately, does not always last very long.
Solid gold jewelry from designer boutiques and high-end jewel houses would be on the top. Typically adorned with authentic gemstones, diamonds, and pearls and boasting the highest levels of craftsmanship, solid gold jewelry is often passed down from one generation to the next.
Solid gold is crafted into timeless designs and will be a staple of your jewelry box for the duration of your lifetime. However, solid gold is very vulnerable to scratches and dents, making it near impossible to wear out and about.
Gold-plated jewelry is the happy medium and has a myriad of benefits. While costume jewelry is sometimes very obviously painted gold, the average person truly can’t tell the difference between solid gold and gold-plated jewelry.
Gold-plated jewelry is usually made up of some sort of more affordable metal base (typically a type of silver or copper), which is then coated in liquid gold. Other than boasting a timeless elegance, gold-plated jewelry usually comes at a fraction of the price of solid gold jewelry since it is not all solid gold.
Think of chocolate candies like M&Ms as an example. M&Ms are not all colorful on the inside — they are chocolate. M&Ms are just hardened chocolate covered with a colored candy coating. It’s the same concept as gold-plated jewelry.
Why Is Gold-Plating Important?
Gold-plated jewelry must be treated differently than solid gold jewelry because it is not solid. The top coating of gold is not always the thickest of layers and can wear away if it’s not treated, cared for, stored, and cleaned properly.
Certain chemicals, beauty products, sweat, and exposure to the elements can cause the gold coating to slowly wear away and oxidize, causing discoloration. This can leave you with green markings on your hands, around your neck, and inside your piercings.
Oxidation cannot always simply be wiped away or brushed off with a toothbrush. Over time, your jewelry will slowly lose its luster and won’t shine nearly as bright as the day you bought it.
For this reason, it’s not only important to regularly clean your jewelry, but it’s also vital to keep a few things in mind when you are storing your jewelry and wearing it.
How To Care for Gold-Plated Jewelry:
1. Be Careful When Getting Dressed
The care process for your jewelry starts while you’re still wearing it. Try to avoid exposing it to any oils, substances, or other products that might cause premature tarnishing. This can be tricky because most liquid cosmetics or toiletries contain these types of ingredients.
When washing your hands, try to remember to remove your rings before reaching for the soap. Although it’s generally safe to wash your jewelry with warm soapy water, it may not properly dry off, which will lead to the tarnishing we are trying to avoid. If you’re putting on lotion or hand sanitizer, also try to remove any rings before doing so.
Do your best not to spray your jewelry with perfume. Perfumes can contain alcohol, essential oils, colorants, and other chemicals, which will slowly but surely eat away at the precious gold coating your bracelets, necklaces, and even earrings.
Look at not only your earring fasteners but at the back of the actual earring itself. Both studs, hoops, and more elaborate chandelier earrings might be hiding pesky green tarnishing on the parts that frequently rub up against your skin.
What About Sweat?
Sometimes, especially during the warmer months when you might be attending outdoor weddings or festivals, you won’t really be able to avoid sweating. Consider wearing your hair up and remember to dab or block away any excess sweat whenever you have a chance.
This is a simple way to keep your jewelry from getting drenched. Wearing your hair up is yet another chance to adorn your look with other golden accessories while protecting your precious jewels.
Gold-plated jewelry should be lightly cleaned after each use and stored properly to prevent oxidation and to keep the jewelry as shiny as it was on the day you first bought it. Periodic deep cleanings will help keep dirt, dust, and other debris from building up, particularly in the crevices or etchings of more elaborate pieces.
2. Schedule Periodic Cleanings
When cleaning your jewelry, simple soapy water is the best thing to use. Mix a mild soap into warm water, then let your jewelry soak for several minutes. Do this in a bowl — the last thing you want is to drain your sink and accidentally lose a piece of jewelry down in your pipes.
Scrub (Very Gently)
After your jewelry has soaked, take it out and rub all the surface areas clean with a smooth, lint-free cloth. For more intricate detailing like the kind featured in our Leena Red Necklace Set, use a clean toothbrush or pipe cleaner to scrub away any debris which may have built up.
If you do use something as a scrubber, make sure it is fully clean and not coated with any leftover cleaning chemicals. After your jewelry has been scrubbed/wiped down, make sure to thoroughly dry it with a cloth before storing it in your jewelry box.
Wipe With a Microfiber Cloth
If your jewelry doesn’t need a full cleaning, consider using a high-quality jewelry polishing cloth. In addition to restoring your jewelry to its former glory, this will also help remove any excess dirt or gunk that may have built up over time.
Using a cloth in between deep cleans is a great way to prolong the life of gold-plated jewelry, so long as you wipe your jewelry and don’t scrub it.
Stay Away From Harsh Cleaning Products
We also advise you to avoid using abrasive cleaning products like vinegar or lemon. This can cause corrosion and further lead to the breakdown of the top gold coating.
Look Into Professional Cleaning Kits
Many jewelry stores and brands also sell cleaning kits. Most of these are simple canisters with a tray you lower down into the solution. These kits also come with brushes, making it a simple way to touch up your favorite pieces — just check with the designer or manufacturer first.
3. Do a Heavy-Duty Clean, If Needed
For more severe cases of tarnishing, consider using baking soda and aluminum foil. Rather than exposing your jewels to harsh abrasives or a rough scrubbing technique, the chemical reaction between these two substances helps to naturally break down layers of gunk.
Line a glass bowl with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Add one tablespoon of salt and one tablespoon of baking soda, then fill the bowl with hot water. You want to have enough water in the bowl so that the salt and baking soda will properly dissolve and your jewelry is fully immersed.
Just like you would with soapy water, drop your jewelry into the bowl and let it soak for at least five minutes.
As the clock ticks on, you might see random flakes start to float away from your jewelry to the perimeter of the bowl. This is actually sulfur, caused by oxidation. The sulfur is attracted to the chemical makeup of the aluminum foil, allowing it to be easily removed from your jewelry.
After a good deal of the tarnishing has come off, give your jewelry a solid rub down before rinsing with warm water and thoroughly drying it off. Always stop up your sink before holding jewelry under water to prevent yourself from losing any earring backs or accidentally dropping something down the drain.
4. Store Your Jewelry Carefully
Once your jewelry is sparkling clean, store it properly. A jewelry box is an ideal way to store your precious metals. Jewelry boxes will ensure your jewelry does not get tangled, rub up against other metals, and won’t get lost.
Some people might also suggest storing your jewelry inside individual plastic bags to keep out air and oxidation-causing moisture, but this may not be a great idea.
This storage technique may give you the opposite effect and actually trap moisture inside. Furthermore, some plastics contain chemical components that can be harmful to metals, pearls, or other gemstones.
Jewelry That Lasts
With the right care, proper storage, and a little mindfulness, not only can you extend the lifetime of your gold-plated jewelry, but you are sure to keep it beautiful and glistening for all of life‘s occasions.
Our gold-plated options are the perfect addition to any festive outfit, ensuring you won’t end up with any green markings on your piercings, neck, or on your hands. Eye-catching pieces like our Seerat Nosering even keep your nose looking beautiful without oxidizing.
Shop our collection of Indian Jewelry for a few additions to your jewelry box or to pick up a full set from a great selection of vivid gems.
Why Gold Is so Expensive | Business Insider
Platinum, Gold, and Silver Jewelry | Consumer Advice
Jewelry Metals 101: Gold, Silver, and Platinum | International Gem Society