How To Clean Gold Jewelry

You may have a ring you inherited from your great-grandmother or a watch you received to recognize the anniversary of your 25th year in business. Owning a piece of gold jewelry is a great honor, but it also requires some care on your part to keep your jewelry looking its best. Learn how to clean your gold jewelry at home so that you can preserve your treasured pieces.

How Much Do You Know About Gold?

clean gold jewelry

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Gold is one of the three precious metals (the others are silver and platinum). By law, gold jewelry has to have a hallmark that describes the percentage of gold in a piece: 24 karat gold is 99.99% pure gold. If your gold jewelry is less than 24 karats, then it contains other metals, called alloys, which add hardness to the gold and increase its durability.

For many years, an alloy below the lowest allowable percentage of 10 karats (10 parts pure gold to 14 parts alloy) could not be described as karat gold in the United States. In 2018, however, the Federal Trade Commission discontinued this threshold, stating that “sellers could use gold terms to describe a product (or part thereof) composed throughout of gold alloy, regardless of karat, if they qualify the terms with equally conspicuous, accurate karat fineness disclosure,” according to the Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America.

Pure gold is soft enough to mold like stiff clay, which is why it is often mixed with another metal for many applications. The alloying metal also lends color. Gold’s true color is actually a warm yellow. The addition of nickel, silver, or zinc can yield white gold. Adding copper creates a pinkish gold known as rose gold.

Gold does not corrode like other metals, but it can become brittle if it is not cared for properly. To avoid scratches to your jewelry, you need to handle your gold pieces carefully.

What Is the Best Way To Clean Gold Jewelry?

To clean your gold jewelry at home, follow the steps below:

  1. Place paper towels over the drain in your sink to prevent jewelry from falling into it.
  2. Mix a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid with warm water. Using clean cloths, gently wash your jewelry with the soap solution. For intricate gold pieces, scrub them gently with a new, soft toothbrush, such as a baby toothbrush.
  3. Rinse jewelry pieces under warm running water to remove any remaining soap residue.
  4. Gently dry and polish with a soft, lint-free cloth or a chamois towel. Allow your jewelry to dry completely before storing it.

You may discover jewelry cleaning solutions you can use on your jewelry. However, be sure to read the product labels carefully. You want a product that specifically indicates it can be used on gold jewelry.

Keep in mind this point about gold and tarnishing. While pure gold does not tarnish, gold jewelry often contains alloys, as described above. These alloys can become tarnished. The degree to which this tarnishing occurs depends on the percentage of other metals combined with the gold in the piece.

What Should You Do With Gold Jewelry Containing Colored Gemstones or Diamonds?

Due to their composition, colored gemstones require special care to avoid damaging the stones in the jewelry. Before being placed into a jewelry setting, many natural gemstones are treated with substances to preserve their integrity and luster. Abrasive cleaning agents or improper methods of cleaning can damage the stones in addition to the gold in the jewelry itself.

Before using any cleaning agents on jewelry with colored gemstones, consult with a professional jeweler. Your jeweler will be able to recommend the correct at-home cleaning products and methods to avoid damaging the gemstones and the gold in the piece.

If your gold jewelry contains a diamond that has not been fracture-filled and contains no other gemstones in the setting, you can soak the jewelry piece in equal parts household ammonia and cold water for five minutes. Remove, rinse, and dry as directed above.

How Should You Care for Your Gold Jewelry?

Use the following tips to keep your gold jewelry looking its best:

  • Be careful about the type of soap that comes into contact with your jewelry. Remove any pieces of gold jewelry before showering. Body washes may cause a film to develop on the jewelry.
  • When doing heavy work tasks, such as gardening or carpentry work, remove rings and watches to avoid scratching them.
  • Avoid wearing gold jewelry when swimming in a chlorinated pool, immersing yourself in a chlorinated hot tub, or cleaning objects with chlorine bleach. The chlorine in the bleach can cause pits to develop in the gold, which can ultimately damage or discolor your jewelry.
  • If your gold jewelry becomes scratched or bent, do not attempt to make repairs to the piece yourself. Take your gold jewelry to a professional jeweler, who can usually polish and reshape a piece. In addition, have a jeweler check the prongs on gold settings once a year for stability.
  • To prevent scratches from marring your gold jewelry, store items separately from other pieces of jewelry. You can use fabric-lined drawers, boxes with individual compartments, or velvet bags.

Now that you know the best ways to clean and care for your gold jewelry, you’ll be able to preserve your treasured pieces so that you can enjoy wearing them to celebrate each day or life’s special occasions. While the tips presented above can help you clean and care for your gold jewelry at home, we recommend taking your jewelry pieces to a professional for a more thorough and careful cleaning. A jeweler can apply the proper cleaning procedures to your gold jewelry based on the specific type of gemstone and metal in your watch, ring, bracelet, or necklace, as well as inspect the piece for damage.

If you own a piece of gold jewelry in need of repair, consult with the professionals at Hustedt Jewelers. With over 60 years of combined experience, the father-and-son team of master jewelers Larry and Kevin Hustedt will carefully repair and restore your jewelry: Done Once, Done Right, and Guaranteed. Contact us to make a jewelry repair appointment today.

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How To Clean Gold Jewelry
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