Gold-plated jewelry is a popular choice for fashion accessories as it gives the appearance of solid gold jewelry while being more affordable. However, keeping it clean and in good condition can be challenging, especially if you need to familiarize yourself with the proper techniques. This guide will provide detailed information on how to clean 18k gold-plated jewelry to remain shiny and look new.
Understanding 18k Gold-plated Jewelry
What is 18k gold-plated jewelry? It consists of a base metal with a thin layer of gold electroplated onto it. The 18k indicates the thickness of the gold layer, which is 75% gold and 25% metals. The base metal could be brass, stainless steel, or any other metal alloy.
Why Does 18k Gold-plated Jewelry Tarnish?
Even though 18k gold-plated jewelry is durable, it can still tarnish over time. Tarnishing occurs when the outer layer of the gold wears off or reacts with substances such as sweat, lotion, perfume, and oils from the skin.
Cleaning 18k Gold-plated Jewelry
The following are some tips for cleaning 18k gold-plated jewelry:
- Use a Soft Cloth: The first step in cleaning your 18k gold-plated jewelry is to use a soft cloth. This will help remove any dirt or debris from the surface of the jewelry. A microfiber cloth or a jewelry cleaning cloth is ideal for this purpose.
- Warm Water and Mild Soap: Mix a small amount of mild soap with warm water in a bowl. Place the jewelry in the bowl and let it soak for a few minutes. Be sure not to use hot water, which can damage the gold plating.
- Gently Rub with a Soft Brush: After soaking, use a soft-bristled toothbrush or a jewelry cleaning brush to rub the jewelry gently. This will help remove any stubborn dirt or grime the cloth couldn’t remove.
- Rinse and Dry: After scrubbing, rinse the jewelry thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue. Then, use a soft cloth to dry it thoroughly. Be sure not to rub too hard, as this can damage the gold plating.
- Polish with a Jewelry Polishing Cloth: After cleaning and drying, use a jewelry polishing cloth to buff the jewelry and restore its shine. These cloths are designed to clean and polish gold-plated jewelry without scratching or damaging it.
Other Tips for Cleaning 18k Gold-Plated Jewelry
In addition to the above steps, here are some other tips that can help you keep your 18k gold-plated jewelry looking its best:
- Avoid Harsh Chemicals: When cleaning your 18k gold-plated jewelry, avoid using harsh chemicals such as bleach, ammonia, or chlorine. These chemicals can damage the gold plating and cause it to discolor.
- Remove Your Jewelry When Swimming or Bathing: Exposure to water can cause 18k gold-plated jewelry to tarnish. Be sure to remove your jewelry before swimming, bathing, or showering to avoid any damage.
- Store Your Jewelry Properly: When not wearing your 18k gold-plated jewelry, store it in a dry place away from direct sunlight. Exposure to sunlight and air can cause the jewelry to tarnish.
- Don’t Wear Your Jewelry During Physical Activities: Avoid wearing your jewelry during physical activities such as exercise or sports. Sweat and friction can cause the jewelry to tarnish or wear down more quickly.
- Use a Jewelry Box or Organizer: Store your 18k gold-plated jewelry in a jewelry box or organizer with separate compartments for each piece to avoid scratches and damage. This will help keep your jewelry organized and protect it from getting tangled or damaged.
- Avoid Using Ultrasonic Cleaners: Ultrasonic cleaners are not recommended for cleaning 18k gold-plated jewelry, as the vibrations can cause the gold plating to wear off or become damaged. Stick to gentle cleaning methods, such as those outlined above.
- Seek Professional Cleaning: If your 18k gold-plated jewelry is heavily tarnished or has stubborn stains that won’t come off with gentle cleaning, consider taking it to a professional jeweler for cleaning. They will have the expertise and tools to clean your jewelry without damaging the gold plating.
Can I clean my 18k gold-plated jewelry with vinegar?
No, it is not recommended to clean 18k gold-plated jewelry with vinegar. Vinegar is an acidic substance that can damage the gold plating and cause it to wear off or discolor.
Can I wear my 18k gold-plated jewelry in the shower or swimming pool?
No, wearing 18k gold-plated jewelry in the shower or swimming pool is not recommended. Exposure to water can cause the gold plating to wear off or tarnish.
Can I use a silver polishing cloth to clean my 18k gold-plated jewelry?
No, silver polishing cloths are not recommended for cleaning 18k gold-plated jewelry. They are designed to clean silver, not gold, and can scratch or damage the plating.
How often should I clean my 18k gold-plated jewelry?
It depends on how often you wear your jewelry and how quickly it tarnishes. Generally, cleaning your 18k gold-plated jewelry every few months or whenever you notice it looking dull or discolored is a good idea.
How do I store my 18k gold-plated jewelry?
Store your 18k gold-plated jewelry in a dry place away from direct sunlight. You can use a jewelry box or organizer with separate compartments for each piece to avoid scratches and damage. Avoid storing your jewelry in humid areas, such as a bathroom, as moisture can cause the gold plating to tarnish.
Cleaning 18k gold-plated jewelry can be challenging, but the proper techniques and tools can keep your jewelry looking new. Remember to use a soft cloth, warm water, mild soap, a soft-bristled brush, and a jewelry polishing cloth to clean and polish your jewelry. A
void using harsh chemicals, ultrasonic cleaners, and wearing your jewelry during physical activities or exposure to water. Following these tips, you can keep your 18k gold-plated jewelry shiny and beautiful for years.