Clean Your Jewelry!
The biggest differentiator between solid gold, gold filled, and gold plated jewelry that no one is talking about, until now!
If that’s you, don’t give up yet!If you wear gold or silver jewelry, you’ve probably seen your pieces get darker or discolor over time. This is called tarnish. You might be surprised to find out that tarnish doesn’t always mean your jewelry is ruined.
Gold Plated Jewelry CAN’T Be CleanedGold Plated jewelry can’t be cleaned once it tarnishes, which it 100% will. This is because the gold layer on gold plated jewelry is so microscopically thin (.5 microns - that's .0005 millimeters) that the cleaning process will damage the gold layer, stripping it away and leaving you with further damaged goods. Gold filled and solid gold, on the other hand, don't have that problem.
Gold Filled Jewelry CAN Be CleanedGold Filled has a gold layer that is 100x thicker than gold plating, and that gold layer is pressure bonded (a jewelry term for "fused") to the base metal so that it does not come off. This makes it highly durable, and you can safely clean it without causing any damage to the gold layer. It also takes a lot longer for gold filled to tarnish compared to gold plated. This is because pure gold is very tarnish resistant, so the more pure gold your jewelry contains, the longer it takes for tarnish to build up.
Fine Jewelry CAN Be CleanedNaturally, fine jewelry (that’s solid 14K and above) takes even longer to tarnish, and can of course be cleaned. What’s surprising is, most people don’t realize that even fine jewelry tarnishes. If you own fine gold jewelry, you might not even realize that it doesn’t look as good as it once did. Try one of the cleaning methods we’re about to get into, and you’ll most likely be surprised that your fine jewelry could be looking even better than it does right now.
If you’re interested in diving deep into the different types of gold used in jewelry making, check out our Complete Guide to Gold Jewelry. It’s packed with pretty much everything you’d want to know!
1. Use a Jewelry Cleaning ClothA jewelry cleaning cloth for light cleaning is the first line of defense. Jewelry cleaning cloths are typically made of flannel, which is slightly abrasive, making it fairly effective at removing light tarnish build up. Some clothes are impregnated with chemicals that help break down tarnish and skin oil. If you have a regular cleaning cloth, you can use dish soap and warm water to achieve the same effect.
Wiping down your pieces with a cleaning cloth when they are wet with water or sweat can prevent tarnish from building up. A cleaning cloth works great when there isn’t a lot of tarnish to clean. If your pieces are looking fairly discolored, you’re probably going to need something a little stronger.
Here’s a good cleaning cloth on Amazon (under $12) that you can use to clean your fine and demi-fine jewelry.
2. Use a Jewelry Cleaning SolutionA jewelry cleaning solution is the quickest and easiest method for jewelry that’s lightly, or even moderately tarnished. Make sure you are using a gold solution if you're cleaning gold, and a silver solution if you are cleaning silver. We recommend something like CONNOISSEURS Jewelry Cleaner Solution for Delicate Jewelry (under $6 on Amazon). Follow the instructions on the jar, and be amazed at how it brings your pieces back to life!
3. Invest In an Ultrasonic Jewelry BathAn ultrasonic jewelry bath isn’t something everyone has lying around at home, but you can find a good Ultrasonic Bath on Amazon for around $40. If you have a big jewelry collection, or you want a quick set-it-and-forget-it method for cleaning your jewelry on a regular basis, an ultrasonic jewelry bath is your best option. You can quickly clean multiple pieces of jewelry at once, and they are safe and easy to use. You can also clean metal framed eyeglasses, silverware, and other items with the right solution in your ultrasonic cleaner.
Clean Your Jewelry OftenThe key to making sure you get decades of life out of your gold filled jewelry is to clean it periodically, preferably before you notice any discoloration. Just like rust, tarnish can corrode the metal over time. If you wait too long, the buildup can become too severe to clean.
Don’t Clean Gold Plated JewelryRemember, cleaning isn’t going to save your gold plated jewelry (this includes vermeil), and will most likely damage it further, so only use these methods for jewelry that is gold filled or better.
If your jewelry is already very tarnished, we recommend using the cleaning solution first, and then using the ultrasonic bath immediately afterwards. If that doesn't work, you may need the help of a professional jeweler.