We have a love/hate relationship with gold plating; this jewellery forging technique has made gold jewellery an accessible choice, but this plating can also wear off, leaving our once beautiful pieces relatively worthless.
Gold plating, as opposed to a solid gold piece, uses a base metal such as stainless steel, brass or copper and covers it in a fine film of gold through a process known as plating. In the end, you end up with a stunning piece ofjewellery, sometimes indistinguishable from solid gold. But, if they aren’t looked after properly, this plating could wear off, exposing the metal beneath.
Perfume, SPF, sweat, oxidisation and water; all these things can tarnish your gold plated jewellery. But, while it may require a little more time and care, there are ways to care for your accessories that can take their lifespan from months to years.
Why does gold plated jewellery tarnish?
Gold plated jewellery is much stronger than their solid gold sisters. Gold itself is a rather soft metal, while standard bases like stainless steel are more durable. However, that means the plating of your necklaces, bracelets and rings aren’t as strong as what lies underneath, and they tend to get chipped, scratched, and rubbed off easily.
Additionally, base metals can start to come to the piece’s surface, causing discolouration of both the plating and the metals. This resurfacing dulls the once brilliant shine of the gold but can be prevented through proper care and maintenance.
Polish your jewellery with a soft cloth
Investing in a soft polishing cloth can drastically extend the life of your gold plated jewellery. You’ll want to use a chamois or another type of non-abrasive, lint-free cloth and gently rub down your pieces at least once every six months to a year (or every three months for your go-to items). When polishing, be careful not to put in a whole lot of elbow grease as you wouldn’t want to rub off the plating.
Deep clean your gold plated jewellery
If your jewellery needs a deep clean, mix dishwashing liquid with some warm water and soak your pieces for just a few minutes before rinsing and very gently wiping them dry. You’ll want to avoid antibacterial soaps as these formulations can cause gold plating to degrade.
Try not to get perfume on your pieces
Make sure you wait until after you have applied perfume to put on your jewellery. This is because some chemicals in fragrances can interact with the gold plating and the base metal, causing it to tarnish.
Avoid unnecessary contact with water
Take off your jewellery before showering, swimming or even when you are doing activities that could cause you to sweat a lot, as this also contributes to the wear and tear of the gold plating.
Don’t let your jewellery get covered in your skincare
Moisturisers, toners, serums, basically all skincare, much like perfume, could have the potential to interact with your jewellery causing it to tarnish or become discoloured.
Store your pieces mindfully
Maintaining the quality of your gold plated jewellery largely relies on the storage of the piece. Avoid keeping gold-plated accessories in humid bathrooms. Instead, keep them in a dry place, preferably in a plastic bag with the air squeezed out to avoid oxidisation. The jewellery bag that came with your accessory (if you had one) is also an excellent option for storage. However, make sure only to store one piece of jewellery in each bag to avoid them rubbing together and scratching off the plating.