Big chunky gold chains are all the rage these days and it looks like they are here to stay! In order to keep your golden treasure looking its best, you have to know what kinds of gold jewelry you have. We share a number of ways to test and identify what kind of gold jewelry you have in A Golden Jewelry Primer. Thick gold, thin gold, gold-filled, gold-plated, rose gold, brass alloys and even bronze alloys can shine with the golden hue you love when cleaned cared for, but today we’re just focusing on the top three: gold, gold-filled, and gold-plated.
The higher karat your gold is the softer it is. 24K gold is twice as soft as 12K gold. To clean your gold, start with warm water and gentle dish soap. Swirl the gold through the soapy water and use your hands to brush away any debris. If the gold is exceptionally dirty you can let it sit for a minute then continue to brush the dirt off. Let your jewelry air dry or carefully wipe dry with a soft cloth. Although some jewelers advise the use of a few drops of ammonia or ammonia-based products when cleaning gold. We do not. Ammonia can dissolve gold at room temperature. It is not a fast process, but the chemical reaction between ammonia and gold can damage your jewelry pieces.
Ultrasonic jewelry cleaners gently clean gold jewelry and stones. Many jewelry stores have ultrasonic cleaners and are happy to clean their customer’s jewelry free of charge.
Once your gold jewelry is clean, protect it from damage. Wrap gold items in tissue paper or cloth, or store in individual plastic bags, to keep them separate from your other jewelry.
Gold-filled jewelry is composite jewelry. The interior of gold-filled jewelry is silver or a base metal with a gold layer of at least 5% of the item’s total weight applies to the core silver (or other base metal). Gold-filled jewelry is stamped or tagged to indicate the gold karat weight. Gold-filled items may tarnish. If your gold-filled item is stored in bright light or washed daily or exposed to daily sweat or prolonged humidity. A person’s chemistry may react negatively to the core metal of gold-filled items increasing the rate of tarnish. Gold-filled items have a thick layer of gold, but over time, the gold may wear, or wash away. To keep your item shining as long as possible do not sleep, sweat, swim or shower in your gold-filled jewelry. Clean if needed, with warm soapy water and dry thoroughly.
Gold-plated jewelry requires the same standards of care as gold and gold-filled jewelry plus increased diligence. Wipe each gold-plated item clean with a soft cloth and gentle pressure after wearing, use gentle dish soap and warm water only when necessary. Store separately in individual containers, cloths, or tissue paper, keep from moisture, and protect from light. Depending on the thickness and karat weight of your gold-plated item, with proper care, your item may last a lifetime.