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The Definitive Guide to Prevent Necklaces From Rusting

Written by Annabelle
December 20, 2019

If your necklace is starting to turn color and smells a little funky, chances are it's rusting. This typically happens with silver and base metals such as copper, brass, or bronze. Read on to learn more about how to prevent necklaces from rusting.

Why Is My Jewelry Turning Color?


A silver necklace that has turned color from oxidation.

Your jewelry changes color due to several reasons. If the base metal of the item is silver, brass, copper, or bronze, these metals will oxidize over time. This means that it has a chemical reaction to long-term exposure to chemicals on your skin and in the air, changing the color of the surface.

Another reason is that your item was plated with gold or rhodium. Plating an item is like the equivalent of putting on nail polish; with wear and tear, the color on top will come off. The more you wear your item, the easier it is to rub off gold or rhodium plating.

5 Ways on How to Prevent Necklaces from Rusting

  1. Don't shower with your necklace on: Water, humidity, and any exposure to moisture can exacerbate the rusting process. Take off your necklace before you even step into the bathroom and leave it in a dry area if you're planning on taking a hot bath or shower.
  2. Wipe down the necklace gently after wear: The oils and sweat from your skin accumulate and stay on your jewelry throughout the day. If you want to preserve any plating on the piece and prevent rust, take a soft cloth (like an eyeglasses cloth) to gently wipe it down before going to bed.
  3. Don't spray perfume with your necklace on: Perfume contains chemicals that can eat away at plating and cause discoloration. It's best to spray perfume on and wait a few minutes before you put on any jewelry.
  4. Don't go swimming with your necklace on: Chlorine eats away at gold, destroying the plating on your necklace and leaving it vulnerable and brittle. Seawater is also a jewelry killer with the amount of salt and other chemicals in the water. Take your jewelry off before you decide to go for a swim!
  5. Don't attempt to clean it with any harsh chemicals: Anything stronger than dish soap will damage your item and remove plating. The best way to clean your jewelry is to rinse it in a little water with hand soap suds, and then dry thoroughly to avoid leaving behind any water.

How to Restore the Appearance of Your Necklace

  1. Polishing: If your necklace isn't plated, the jeweler can remove the rust on the jewelry by polishing it off. The discoloration only affects the surface of your item, so the polishing wheel removes an extremely thin part of the top off your jewelry.

    A Tiffany's necklace that was polished to remove discoloration.

  2. Plating: If your necklace is rusty and plated, you'll have to polish off the plating and the metal underneath to remove the rust. This will revert your jewelry to the color of its original base metal, not the color of the plating. In order to restore the color, the jeweler immerses the piece into a plating tank. The tank contains a metal solution with gold or rhodium, and electricity runs through the tank to fuse the metal to the surface of your item.

    This crucifix was gold plating to restore its color.

Now you know how to prevent necklaces from rusting, and how to restore a discolored piece of jewelry! If you need something fixed up, comment below and we'll help you out.

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