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Shine On: A Guide to Caring for Your Gold Jewelry

November 16, 2017



You may not realize it, but many of your everyday activities can damage your gold jewelry. Buildup from soaps and lotions, acid from citrus fruits and other foods, salt and oils from your sweat, and chemicals in everything from pools to cleaning products can all negatively affect gold’s finish and natural beauty. The best way to prevent this is to remove gold jewelry prior to engaging in activities where it may come in contact with damaging substances. If you have difficulty remembering to take your jewelry off, placing pretty jewelry dishes near sinks and exercise equipment will serve as a helpful visual reminder.

Polishing your jewelry at the end of the day before storing it will help maintain its original radiance and luster, and will minimize buildup of dirt and grime.When not in use, lay out your jewelry in a lined drawer, dish, or jewelry box, being particularly careful to keep pieces with gemstones separate as they can scratch other gold and silver jewelry. To keep tarnish-inducing moisture at bay, place a piece of chalk or a silica gel packet near your jewelry—this will be especially important in more humid climates or in homes with humidifiers or evaporative coolers. Taking a few minutes to care for your beloved gold jewelry each night will ensure it is ready to wear whether your outfit calls for an artisan ring, a timeless necklace, or both. Read on to discover how to clean your gold jewelry.

Cleaning Solid Gold Jewelry 
Cleaning precious metals regularly is an important part of preserving their inherent luster as well as their value. For light buildup and tarnish, simply buff your gold jewelry with a soft cloth dipped in water or with a polishing cloth to restore its original shine. Resist the urge to reach for paper towels as they contain fibers that can scratch gold. Lint-free cloths such as those used to clean eyeglasses are one example of an appropriate choice.

For heavier buildup and tarnish, the cleaning method will vary based on the other elements incorporated into your jewelry. Begin by separating your exclusively gold pieces from your jewelry with gemstones and follow the appropriate instructions below.


Cleaning Solid Gold Jewelry with No Gems or Stones
In one bowl, mix an extra mild dish soap with warm water. Fill another bowl with only warm water. Place your all-gold jewelry in the soap mixture, and let it sit for about 15 to 20 minutes. When it’s finished soaking, use a very soft bristle toothbrush to gently remove buildup and tarnish. Take care to clean any recesses and between links. Dip into the bowl containing clean warm water until the jewelry is completely free of soap. Buff and dry with a soft cloth, then lay the jewelry on a towel. Allow to fully dry before putting away.

Cleaning Solid Gold Jewelry with Gemstones 
Soaking is not recommended for jewelry with gemstones as it can compromise the settings over time and because some stones, such as turquoise and coral, are porous. In lieu of soaking, mix very mild dish soap into warm water, then clean the gold and gemstones using a soft cloth moistened with the solution. To reach deep recesses around bezels, filigree, etchings, or stamps, use a soft-bristled toothbrush dipped in the soapy water. Use a fresh cloth dipped in clean water to remove all traces of soap. As with unembellished gold, allow jewelry with gemstones to dry completely before putting it away.

Types of Gold-Finished Jewelry and How to Clean Them 
Many beautiful gold pieces are not made of solid gold but have a gold finish, and they must be cleaned with a different technique. There are a few types of multi-metal jewelry with a gold finish: vermeil, gold plated, and gold filled. Vermeil is silver that has a layer of at least 10k pure gold that must meet certain specifications for thickness. Gold plated jewelry can have any metal at its core and the purity and thickness of the gold finish can vary depending on the maker’s preferences. The final option for gold-finished jewelry is gold filled. Gold filled jewelry is a misnomer—it’s not filled with gold at all. Its other common name, rolled gold, is more accurate as this type of jewelry uses a metal like copper or brass as a base that is then covered (rolled) in sheets of gold using a mechanical bonding process. Gold of a minimum of 14k purity is typically used for gold filled jewelry.


Cleaning your gold-finished jewelry requires a delicate touch and gentle products. Abrasives or a heavy hand could result in damaging or removing the gold portion altogether. Begin by carefully wiping your piece with a soft, dry microfiber cloth, then briefly cleansing with a solution of water and gentle dishwashing detergent. Do not soak the piece in the solution. Allow to air dry, and then very lightly buff any remaining spots with a clean microfiber or gold polishing cloth.

Enjoy the Glow
Gold jewelry lends a richness and sunny glow to any ensemble, making it a stunning choice season after season. With proper care, your favorite gold accessories will be as radiant years down the road as they were the day you added them to your collection.

Discover our gold jewelry on our jewelry finder.