Does Gold Jewelry Tarnish?
When gold tarnishes, you will notice a slight discoloration of the jewelry (usually a darker color). This means that the surface of the gold is starting to slightly corrode and develop a tarnish film. There are a lot of speculations on whether real gold tarnishes of not, so we will explain exactly how gold jewelry tarnishes.
As an element, gold holds the title as being one of the elements that is least reactive. In it's pure form, gold does not rust or tarnish as it does not combine with oxygen easily. This is why pure gold stays as shiny as it does. When it comes to gold jewelry, it is very rare to find pure gold jewelry pieces. With as soft as pure gold is, it must be alloyed with other metals in order to be formed into strong, durable jewelry. The metals that are mixed with the gold usually have properties that make it tarnishable. This is why you will see gold jewelry start to tarnish if not cared for.
If you are looking for gold jewelry that is less likely to tarnish, you are going to want to look for a higher karat gold. For example, 24 karat gold will not tarnish as it is pure gold. You will see more tarnishing in jewelry under 14 karats of gold. To play it safe, look for jewelry in the 14-18 karats of gold.
One of the biggest misconceptions of gold jewelry is that tarnishing indicates that the gold jewelry is not real. This cannot be further from the truth as this only implies that the jewelry is not pure gold. The higher the karat of gold means that less metals were mixed in with them. This is why lesser karats tend to tarnish more. However, lesser karat gold jewelry tarnishes at a slower pace than sterling silver, another popular choice in jewelry. So what exactly causes the gold jewelry to tarnish and what tends to speed up the process? Let's discuss!
What Causes Gold To Tarnish?
Much like rust on a piece of metal, oxygen and sulfur are contributing factors to gold tarnishing. When moisture mixes with oxygen and sulfur compounds in the metals mixed with the gold, corrosion will take place on the surface causing a tarnished look. Due to the way that your body works, some people may experience quicker tarnishing than others.
If you are constantly using cologne, perfume, hairspray and detergents on parts of your body where your jewelry lies, you will also notice an increase in tarnishing. Acidic foods can also be a contributing factor. Food such as onions, spices, pickles, and lemons can all make gold jewelry tarnish quicker.
How To Prevent Gold Jewelry From Tarnishing
When it comes to preventing your gold jewelry from tarnishing, you are first going to want to try to avoid exposing them to constant contact with the chemicals listed above. Here are some other tips to keep your gold jewelry from tarnishing:
- Always remove your jewelry when washing your hands or showering. Soaps can leave a dull finish on your jewelry which will make it harder to clean your jewelry over time.
- Invest in a nice jewelry box that will keep all of your jewelry separate. This will reduce the chances of them being scratched against one another. To help remove moisture from your jewelry box, add a silica gel packet.
- Avoid allowing your jewelry to stay wet for long periods of time.
How To Treat Tarnished Gold Jewelry
So what do you do when your gold jewelry starts to tarnish? If the jewelry only has a surface tarnish, you can use a few drops of a mild, non-phosphate dish soap and warm water to help clean up the tarnish. This can be done with a cotton swab, towel, or simply your fingers. While some may offer toothpaste or baking soda as a solution, these are both quite abrasive and can do more damage to your jewelry. Once cleaned, use a towel to dry your jewelry and allow it to air dry overnight. Using a cotton cloth or jewelry polishing cloth, polish the jewelry to a nice shine.
If you are unable to restore your jewelry back to its original shine, or do not feel comfortable cleaning it yourself, bring it to a professional jeweler such as The Real Jewelry Company. Our team of jewelry experts can access the gold jewelry and polish it back to perfection. A jeweler can also inform you on how to accurately care for your specific piece and offer cleaning tips to help you keep your gold jewelry looking new at all times.