Knowing how to look after gold plated jewellery is important if you want it to hold its shine.
Due to conflicting advice online, it can be difficult to know what’s best for your collection. Caring for gold plated jewellery requires its own techniques, and it’s good to familiarise yourself with them if you haven’t owned it before.
We’ve done the hard work for you and put everything together in one place. Read on for 8 essential tips on gold plated jewellery care, so you can keep yours in pristine condition.
Why is gold plated jewellery care important?
Compared to solid gold and silver, gold plated jewellery is quite vulnerable.
While these items have the same metal composition throughout, gold plated jewellery contains weaker metals such as stainless steel, sterling silver or copper.
This base metal is then covered with a layer of gold so thin that it must be measured in microns, equivalent to one-millionth of a metre.
The average item is plated with just 0.5 microns, exposing it to scratches and tarnishes if the individual wearing it isn’t careful. This makes it easy to see why learning how to look after gold plated jewellery is so important.
Check out our 8 unmissable tips below...
1. Remove it before completing household chores
You may be tempted to wear your jewellery 24/7, especially if we’re talking about a ring or bracelet. But doing so whilst completing household chores like cleaning, cooking or gardening could lead to significant damage.
Since these activities can involve heat, moisture and various chemicals, they are the main culprits of causing gold plated jewellery to tarnish quickly.
Chemicals like bleach and chlorine are particularly corrosive due to belonging to the halogen group of elements. Halogens cause an adverse reaction in metals, causing them to gradually break down into salt-like substances.
Regularly exposing your precious item to these chemicals leaves it vulnerable to tarnishes, as does bringing it into contact with hard surfaces.
Garden flagstones, kitchen surfaces, tools, you name it - they will easily dull or discolour the gold layer of your jewellery if they’re rubbing against it.
Allowing your jewellery to gather dust and dirt will also mean cleaning it more often, which could reduce its longevity.
Related: The World’s Most Cursed Jewellery
2. Remove it before exercising
Moisture of any kind can damage gold plated items, including sweat. Since it contains sodium chloride, sweat reacts with copper within the gold layer of your jewellery, as well as the base metals beneath it.
Due to the sweat reaction tarnishes can appear on your jewellery leaving green or black deposits.
Not only does this alter the appearance of your jewellery, but it can also temporarily discolour your skin. It’s usually harmless, but some people may experience rashes or swelling even if they’re not allergic to metals.
Aside from sweat, friction between your jewellery and exercise equipment can be lethal to gold coating. Tarnishes will appear rapidly in this situation, especially from contact with other metals like cast iron dumbbell handles.
The main lesson from the above points? Prioritise caring for your gold plated jewellery by leaving it in the box during any form of strenuous physical activity!
3. Remove it before swimming
Chlorine is a halogen element, which makes it highly corrosive to metal. Since this is used to disinfect the water in most pools, wearing gold plated jewellery whilst swimming is a sure-fire way to tarnish the coating.
It’s also best to avoid wearing jewellery in the sea, which is still corrosive due to its high salt concentration.
Wearing your jewellery in either situation also puts you at high risk of losing it. While you could retrieve it easily from a swimming pool, open water is another story. It’s almost impossible to locate precious belongings if they accidentally slip off.
Theft is another risk when swimming in public places. These areas are a prime target for opportunists, especially if you leave your belongings at the side of the swimming pool or on a sun lounger as you take a dip in the sea.
When it comes to knowing how to care for your gold plated jewellery when swimming, you should consider leaving it in a secure place to avoid damage, theft or loss.
4. Keep it away from oils, lotions and perfumes
Putting on your jewellery should be the last stage of getting ready as a rule of thumb. This will give any products you’ve applied the chance to dry before touching any gold plated rings, necklaces, bracelets, etc.
It goes without saying that you should avoid direct contact between your jewellery any form of cosmetic substance for the reasons stated earlier. The products we use often contain various chemicals that are harmless to the skin yet corrosive to metals.
In the wake of COVID-19, it’s important to mention that this includes antibacterial hand gels. You should remove any gold plated rings or bracelets before sanitising your hands if you want to keep them in pristine condition.
5. Remove it before sleeping
This activity may seem harmless compared to those listed above. Still, it can cause significant wear and tear on the gold layer of plated jewellery.
The average person sleeps for 7-8 hours per night. During that time, we unconsciously sweat and shift our position. This places any jewellery under immense strain if it’s worn every night.
As there’s no one there to compliment your jewellery when you’re asleep, it’s a bit of a waste to tarnish it for nothing. We suggest putting it away before you drift off so it can hold its shine.
6. Avoid storing it with other jewellery
Scratches are an inevitable part of owning jewellery, but you don’t want to escalate the issue by storing it incorrectly.
You want to avoid metals rubbing against each other at all costs. This is the most common cause of scratching, especially if separate pieces are stored together.
Each item should be stored separately in a box or soft bag of its own. If you have a jewellery stand, it should contribute to the care of your gold plated jewellery by providing a safe space for each individual piece.
Jewellery organisers are a great option if you own quite the collection. Still, you can always revert to the box that it came in!
Related: The World’s Most Expensive Watches
7. Clean it the safe way
There’s a lot of conflicting advice online on how to clean gold plated jewellery, so it’s important to get this from a source you can trust.
This is especially true if you wish to get insurance for your jewellery, as it won’t cover you for damage caused by cleaning.
We established earlier that high-concentration cleaners can damage jewellery, but another thing to look out for is the tools you use for cleaning it.
Avoid any form of abrasive, whether it’s a substance or a material. This includes tools such as sponges, scouring pads, or toothbrushes, all of which could do more damage than good.
NOTE: Before cleaning, check your jewellery has no structural defects such as damaged claws or loose stones. Issues like this will worsen if not cleaned by a professional jeweller.
The safest process for cleaning gold plated jewellery:
- Remove the jewellery and find a clear space.
- Make up some warm soapy water (mild dish soap is ideal; add 2 drops per small bowl).
- Soak the jewellery for up to 10 minutes.
- Remove it from the water and set it aside to dry.
If it requires an extra polish, you can gently buff the jewellery with some cotton wool or a soft, non-abrasive cloth. Silver or gold cleaning cloths should be avoided, as they often contain substances that react poorly with plated gold.
Gently rub these areas with a cotton bud to loosen any dust or dirt trapped in small crevices.
8. Keep it safe from theft or loss
While both instances can happen to anyone, there are certainly preventative measures you can take to make this much less likely.
It is a great start to resist the urge to wear expensive items in scenarios where you’ll have to remove them, such as on the beach or at a public swimming pool. While this may be frustrating when you’re attached to your jewellery, the phrase ‘better safe than sorry’ rings true for these situations.
It’s better to know that it’s stored out of reach of opportunists and where it can’t be lost than risk losing it to either of these things for a short burst of pride.
Keeping jewellery safe at home is all about putting hurdles between your jewellery and thieves. Ripe surveyed individuals convicted of burglary offences, and our findings highlighted the biggest deterrents:
- Security lights
- Door locks & bolts
Aside from installing security systems, you could store your jewellery in a secure home safe.
It’s also important to avoid drawing attention to your items in the first place. Advertising them on social media is a no go, as this is becoming an increasingly popular way for thieves to spot an opportunity.
Ultimately, the best way to care for your gold plated jewellery is to get insurance. That way should anything happen to your precious belongings, you can rest assured that you’ll receive help in getting them repaired or replaced.
Make sure you choose a reputable provider by checking their policies and Trustpilot reviews.
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Since you’re reading up on how to care for your gold plated jewellery, it’s clear how much it means to you.
Getting bespoke jewellery insurance with Ripe Insurance For Valuables will ensure your personal jewellery is fully covered, both in the UK and worldwide. We believe you should have peace of mind wherever you are, knowing that you’ll receive specialist support if the worst happens.
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