Pure gold is by nature very soft and pliable, so designers rarely use it alone to create jewelry. In order to make gold sturdy enough for most jewelry, it’s mixed with other metals to create an alloy. Gold is an inert element, meaning it doesn’t tarnish. The silver and copper mixed with it, however, may react to the oxygen, sulfur and moisture in the air and eventually turn the gold jewelry dark (tarnished).
In some rare circumstances, alloys containing a high percentage of gold will tarnish. But in general the higher the percentage of gold in the alloy, the lesser the chance of it tarnishing. Gold jewelry that is 14 karat and higher, for example, may never tarnish. If it does, the process will be much slower than the tarnishing of sterling silver. Either way, at some point, you will need to know how to clean gold jewelry. Continue reading to learn some dos and don’ts of cleaning gold jewelry.
Do soak it. Add a few drops of liquid dish detergent into a bowl of warm water. Stir gently to create a bubbly lather. If the piece of jewelry is severely tarnished, add a little bit of soda water. The carbonation will loosen tarnish and make cleaning easier.
Don’t scrub it. Never scrub your gold jewelry with an abrasive brush. The soft nature of the gold makes it susceptible to damage by excessive contact. So never use anything like steel wool, because it will definitely harm your gold jewelry.
Do dry thoroughly. Moisture speeds up the tarnishing process, so always make sure your gold jewelry is completely dry before storing. Lay it flat on a towel and allow it to dry overnight, if possible. This way, your gold jewelry is less likely to tarnish again in the future.
Don’t use heavy-duty cleaners. Stay away from strong, chemical-laden cleaning products. Things like bleach or ammonia will severely damage your gold jewelry. Anything stronger than regular household dish soap is too much for the soft nature of gold. And really, dish detergent works fine.
Learning how to clean gold jewelry is a valuable skill. It’s knowledge that can save you a lot of time and money next time you notice your gold jewelry is a little tarnished. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to share in the comments section.