How to Clean Gold-Plated Jewelry
Written by Anna Currell
December 30, 2022
If you’re hesitant to clean your jewelry at home, we get it. There’s a lot of ambiguity around the cleaning process; everyone seems to have different opinions about what to use, how to use it, and how often you should clean your jewelry. It gets even more difficult when it comes to gold-plated jewelry, which requires some extra attention and care to keep it looking its best. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to keep your gold-plated jewelry looking shiny and new. In this article, we’ll explore how to clean gold-plated jewelry safely.
What is Gold-Plated Jewelry?
Gold-plated jewelry is jewelry made of any base metal that is coated in a thin layer of gold. If you purchase your jewelry online, the product description should tell you the metal type, including if it's gold-plated. You can also tell if your jewelry is gold-plated if it’s stamped with the letters “GP.” Gold-plated jewelry is an excellent choice for a more affordable option without sacrificing quality. However, since the layer of gold is relatively thin, gold-plated jewelry is at higher risk of wearing down over time than solid gold jewelry.
How is gold-plated jewelry made?
Gold-plated jewelry is made using a process called electroplating. A jeweler will submerge the piece of jewelry into an electrically charged vat of water and metal salt, which contains the gold particles that will fuse to the base metal. The jeweler can adjust the thickness of the layer of gold by changing how long they leave the jewelry in the solution — the longer the piece stays submerged, the thicker the plating. The resulting gold top layer is measured in microns; one micron equals about 0.001 millimeters, and most gold plating measures between 1-5 microns.
How to Clean Gold-Plated Jewelry Safely
Here are some tips for getting your gold-plated jewelry squeaky clean:
When cleaning your jewelry, it’s best not to use any sort of cleaning product. You never know what kind of chemicals are in those products, and they could tarnish or remove the gold plating from your jewelry. It’s best to avoid any type of cleaning solution, just in case.
Wipe it with a soft cloth
Instead, a great way to keep your gold-plated jewelry clean is to wipe it down with a soft cloth after each wear. This removes any residue that could create a tarnish. Your jewelry collects all kinds of substances while you’re wearing it: soaps, lotions, perfumes, and even bacteria. They accumulate over time, and getting ahead of the buildup with a gentle wipe down at the end of the day can help to keep your jewelry clean.
Avoid soaking your jewelry in water
Over time, water can have a negative effect on your jewelry. Especially when it contains chlorine or salt, water can dull metal jewelry. You can dampen a soft cloth to clean your gold-plated jewelry, but try to avoid soaking your jewelry or submerging it in water for any length of time. Always remember to dry off your jewelry with a soft cloth if it does become wet.
Use a very soft brush if needed
If your jewelry has taken a tumble in the dirt, has some excess build up in its crevices, or just needs a little extra TLC, you might want to use a very soft brush to give it an extra shine. Especially if the design is extra detailed or has any engravings, dirt can get stuck in those small spaces. Using a tool can be helpful, but be sure to use a brush that’s meant for jewelry or a very soft bristle toothbrush to avoid scratching the metal.
Take your jewelry to the professionals
The most effective way to clean your gold-plated jewelry is to take it to the pros. An expert jeweler can give your jewelry the care it needs, combining their expertise with gold plating and an arsenal of tools designed specifically to clean it. Not only will your jewelry get top notch attention, but you won’t have to worry about accidentally damaging it while trying to clean it yourself.
How to Care for Gold-Plated Jewelry
In addition to cleaning your gold-plated jewelry, there are plenty of other preventative measures you can take to keep your jewelry in its best condition. Here are some of the best ways to ensure the safety of your gold-plated jewelry:
Store it in a safe place
Keeping your jewelry in a safe spot can prevent any unnecessary damage. Put your gold-plated jewelry in a dedicated box or dish where it won’t come into contact with other jewelry; you want to avoid the metals rubbing together. The more contact your gold-plated jewelry has to other hard surfaces, the more likely the gold layer is to chip, flake, or wear away. A velvet jewelry box, a soft pouch, or a necklace stand are all great options.
Remove your jewelry during certain activities
Take off your gold-plated jewelry before doing activities that might cause harm, like using house-cleaning products, washing the dishes, showering, playing sports, or going to the beach. Sweat, water, chemicals, and rough surfaces can take the plating off your jewelry, and it’s better to keep it in a safe place until you’re done.
Get another layer of gold plating
To give your jewelry some extra shine and protection, you can give your jewelry another layer of gold plating. The thicker the microns of gold on your jewelry, the less susceptible it is to flaking, tarnishing, or getting damaged, so add another layer of gold to make your jewelry more durable.
To give your gold-plated jewelry the best treatment, send it in to our expert jewelers at Quick Jewelry Repairs for another layer of shiny gold. Gold plating is a great way to give your jewelry an extra boost of luster and to keep it safe from wear and tear.