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How to Clean Gold Plated Jewelry: Gentle Techniques for Brilliant Results

Gold-plated jewelry has long been a popular choice for its ability to replicate the beautiful appearance of pure gold at a more affordable cost. Despite its stunning look, gold-plated pieces can be vulnerable to tarnishing and loss of luster over time, especially when exposed to various chemicals and elements.

As a result, it is essential for owners to know how to clean gold-plated jewelry to maintain its brilliance and extend its lifespan.

Keep reading for practical tips tailored to both everyday upkeep and more in-depth cleaning processes to keep your gold-plated accessories looking as good as new for years to come.

Jewelry laying on a towel to dry.  How to clean gold plated jewelry

Difference Between Gold and Gold-Plated Jewelry

Gold jewelry is a popular choice for its timeless appeal, durability, and value. Solid gold jewelry, typically made from 14-karat gold, is made of a gold alloy mixed with other metals such as copper and silver.

Gold-plated jewelry, on the other hand, consists of a base metal covered by a thin layer of gold.

The key difference between solid gold and gold-plated jewelry is the composition and thickness of the gold layer. Solid gold jewelry contains a higher percentage of gold than gold-plated pieces, resulting in a more durable and valuable product.

Gold-plated jewelry, while less expensive, is more prone to wear and tarnish over time due to its thin gold layer.

Gold plating in gold-plated jewelry is achieved by using electrolysis to deposit a thin layer of gold onto the surface of the base metal. This method creates a bright, shiny finish that resembles solid gold, but at a fraction of the cost.

However, the gold layer can wear away over time, exposing the base metal and causing discoloration or corrosion.

When choosing between solid gold and gold-plated jewelry, it is essential to consider factors such as budget, intended use, and the desired longevity of the piece.

Solid gold jewelry is better for those seeking a long-lasting investment or a piece that can withstand daily wear.

Gold-plated jewelry may be ideal for fashion purposes, offering an affordable way to enjoy the look of gold without the high price tag.

Why Proper Cleaning is Important

Regularly cleaning and caring for your gold-plated jewelry is essential to maintain its shine and luster. Gold-plated jewelry can tarnish easily, and improper cleaning can cause the color to fade.

In order to restore and protect your jewelry, it’s necessary to understand the right cleaning methods and techniques.

Cleaning Process

Cleaning gold-plated jewelry is essential to maintain its shine and prevent tarnish. Begin by wiping down the jewelry with a damp cotton ball or microfiber cloth to remove smudges, soil, and body oils after every use. This will help maintain its appearance and prevent damage.

For a more thorough cleaning, prepare a cleaning solution by mixing warm water with a few drops of mild dish soap. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasives that may damage the jewelry.

Submerge the gold-plated jewelry in the soapy solution and let it soak for a few minutes. This process helps remove accumulated dirt and oils from daily wear.

During the soak, gently clean the jewelry with a soft toothbrush or cotton swab to reach crevices and remove stubborn dirt. Be cautious not to use excessive force as it may scratch the gold plating.

Cleaning a gold plated necklace with a soft toothbrush

After cleaning, remove the jewelry from the soap solution and rinse it thoroughly under warm water.

Next, pat the jewelry dry with a soft, lint-free cloth or jewelry cloth. Ensure the jewelry is dry before storing it to prevent moisture-induced damage or tarnishing.

For added protection, polish the gold-plated jewelry using a jewelry cleaner or silver polish to help maintain its luster.

Cleaning Gold-Plated Jewelry with Gemstones

When cleaning gold-plated jewelry with gemstones, pearls, or enamel, take extra caution, as these delicate materials may require specific care. It’s best to avoid using household items like baking soda, peroxide, and salt, which might be too abrasive for precious or semi-precious stones.

Regular cleaning is necessary, especially when the gold-plated jewelry has been exposed to sweat, sulfur compounds, or other elements that can cause tarnishing. By following these simple steps, gold-plated jewelry can be preserved, ensuring it retains its shine and remains looking new for years to come.

Drying and Polishing

After cleaning your gold-plated jewelry, it is essential to properly dry and polish it to restore its shine and prevent any potential damage.


First, gently pat the jewelry dry with a soft, lint-free cloth to remove any excess water. Be sure to reach all the nooks and crannies to avoid moisture build-up that could lead to tarnishing.

Once the jewelry is sufficiently dry, allow it to air-dry for a few minutes. This step ensures that it is completely moisture-free before proceeding to polishing. Be sure to place the jewelry on a clean, dry surface during this process, preferably away from direct sunlight or heat sources.


For polishing, use a microfiber cloth or a specialized jewelry cloth, both of which are gentle and designed to enhance the shine of jewelry. It is important to use a clean cloth to avoid transferring any dirt or residue back onto the jewelry.

Gently buff the jewelry using circular motions, applying enough pressure to remove any remaining residue or fingerprints without scratching the gold plating.

It is crucial to avoid using harsh or abrasive materials when polishing gold-plated jewelry, as they can damage the delicate gold surface. Stick to soft materials such as microfiber cloths, jewelry cloths, or lint-free cloths for the best results.

Regularly polishing your gold-plated jewelry will help maintain its shine and overall appearance, prolonging its lifespan.

Preventative Measures and Regular Maintenance

When it comes to gold-plated jewelry, taking preventative measures and performing regular maintenance can go a long way in keeping your pieces looking their best. By following these tips, you can avoid common issues such as tarnishing, oxidation, and wear.

First and foremost, always put on your gold-plated jewelry after applying your cosmetics, lotions, and perfume. These substances can build up on the surface of your jewelry, causing dirt, soil, and smudges.

Make-up, lotions, and body oils can also accelerate tarnishing, as the chemicals present in these products may react with the metal.

Jewelry worn close to the skin, like necklaces and bracelets, can also be exposed to sweat, which contains natural body oils and salts. These can contribute to the oxidation process and cause your gold-plated items to tarnish or wear more quickly.

To minimize the impact of sweat, try to wear your jewelry in situations where it will not be exposed to excessive moisture and wipe it down with a soft, dry cloth after each use.

Storage Solutions

Storing gold-plated jewelry properly is crucial to preserving its luster and preventing tarnish.

Jewelry Box

A jewelry box is one of the best ways to store such jewelry. A jewelry box provides a designated space for each piece, preventing it from rubbing against other items that may cause scratches or damage to the delicate gold plating.

A jewelry box with compartments filled with jewelry

When selecting a jewelry box, choose one that has individual sections or compartments to keep pieces separated and avoid entangling. Soft fabric or padding within the box helps maintain the jewelry’s fresh appearance and protects it from any potential damage.

Other Storage Options

Aside from jewelry boxes, there are other storage options that can aid in maintaining gold-plated jewelry in pristine condition.

Consider storing jewelry in soft cloth pouches or plastic zip bags. These additional layers can provide extra protection from moisture and external factors that contribute to tarnishing.

To keep gold-plated jewelry looking its best, it is essential to maintain a moisture-free storage environment. Silica gel packets can be useful in absorbing any excess humidity within the storage area. Placing a packet or two alongside the jewelry can retain its shine and prevent tarnish.

Proper storage methods can prolong the life of gold-plated jewelry and preserve its beauty for years to come. Investing in the right storage solutions and maintaining a moisture-free environment can make you confident and knowledgeable in preserving your cherished possessions.

When to Seek a Professional

There are certain situations where cleaning gold-plated jewelry at home might not be enough, or could potentially cause damage to the item. In these cases, it is advisable to seek the help of a professional jeweler who has the specialized knowledge, tools, and experience to handle gold-plated jewelry.


Gold-plated jewelry is more prone to scratches and damage than solid gold due to its thin layer of gold over base metals. If your jewelry has deep scratches or visible damage, attempting to clean it at home might make the issue worse.

A professional jeweler can assess the damage and recommend the best course of action to repair or restore your gold-plated jewelry. They may suggest having the jewelry re-plated to bring back its original luster and shine.

Deep Clean

Another reason why you might want to seek a professional’s assistance is when your jewelry requires a deep clean. A professional is equipped with the right tools and cleaning agents to safely conduct a thorough cleaning, restoring your jewelry’s appearance without causing additional harm.

If you’re unsure about the proper method of cleaning your gold-plated jewelry, professional guidance can be invaluable. A jeweler can educate you on the best techniques to maintain your jewelry, ensuring that you can enjoy its beauty for years to come and avoid undue damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to remove stubborn tarnish from gold-plated jewelry?

Create a mixture of one tablespoon of salt, one tablespoon of baking soda, and a cup of warm water in a bowl lined with aluminum foil. Place the tarnished jewelry in the mixture and let it soak for a few minutes. Afterward, gently scrub the jewelry with a soft brush, rinse with water, and dry with a soft cloth.

Can tarnished gold-plated jewelry be restored?

Yes, tarnished gold-plated jewelry can be restored. Following the deep-cleaning method using baking soda, salt, and warm water, as mentioned above, can help remove tarnish and restore the shine of the jewelry. Regular cleaning and maintenance will also help prevent tarnish from building up.

How to maintain the shine of gold-plated jewelry?

To maintain the shine of gold-plated jewelry, it is important to clean it regularly. Wipe it down with a soft cloth or microfiber cloth after each use to remove sweat, residue, and smudges.

Avoid exposing the jewelry to chemicals like perfumes and hand creams, which can tarnish the gold plating.

Store the jewelry separately, in a soft pouch or a compartmentalized jewelry box, to prevent scratches.

Cleaning a gold-plated ring with a black soft cloth

What are the common mistakes to avoid while cleaning gold-plated jewelry?

Common mistakes to avoid when cleaning gold-plated jewelry include using harsh chemicals, abrasive cleaners, or rough-textured cloths, which can damage the gold plating.

Avoid soaking jewelry for too long, as this can loosen adhesives or wear down the gold plating. Lastly, make sure jewelry is thoroughly dried before storage to prevent moisture-induced tarnishing.

Wrapping up How to Clean Gold Plated Jewelry

With proper cleaning and storage, you can keep your gold plated jewelry shining for years to come.

Want more information on taking care of jewelry, or even ideas for making your own? Check out our jewelry page.