What is Gold Plated Jewelry and Why Do I Have to Clean It?

Gold plated jewelry, oftentimes referred to as dipped or gold vermeil, requires a gentler hand when cleaning, and a bit more care than 14k gold jewelry.

gold plated jewelry

Gold plated bracelets

Above, you'll see an example of gold plated bracelets.

They each have a base of sterling silver, and are plated in 14k yellow gold. As you can see, they are lovely and truly look like real, 14k gold. 

With the proper care you can keep these bracelets always looking fantastic. 

Gold (or rose) jewelry is an alloy of gold combined with other metals.  And gold plated jewelry is actually a very thin layer of gold on top of sterling silver and it will eventually tarnish.  

Unfortunately, all jewelry tarnishes.

A common problem often seen with plated jewelry on necklaces, bracelets, and rings, even more so than normal tarnishing, is the build-up of dirt caused by makeup, lotions, and the oils in the skin.  

This can cause the jewelry to look dull or dirty, and thus requires the piece to be cleaned.  

Cleaning any plated jewelry requires a gentler hand.

If an abrasive action occurs, it can likely wear down and remove the thin layer of gold plating.

This abrasion is also sped up with showering and wearing your plated jewelry in the pool or any body of water. 

It is best to remove all plated jewelry prior to showering.

It is also best to avoid very harsh chemicals.

All jewelry requires cleaning to maintain its shine and luster, and the best way to clean gold plated jewelry is to make a tiny bath of soapy, warm water.  

  • Quickly immerse the piece of jewelry, followed by a gentle cleaning with a cotton ball swab or q-tip.  
  • Allow to air dry, and shine with a non-abrasive, lint-free cloth.  

Another way to clean jewelry is with a baking soda solution. 

Full disclosure: we prefer this method on sterling rather than on plated jewelry.  

Here is a video on how to clean in this fashion:

 

 

What is gold-plated jewelry?

Gold plated jewelry is a thin layer of electroplated gold on top of another metal.  

With time, temperature and voltage carefully controlled, a piece of metal is submerged into the plating solution that attracts ions of gold or the final metal that will show on the surface.

Different metals require different voltages and temperatures.

Items chosen to be plated are hung from a cathode bar, which is a pole with a negative electrical charge going through it. The pieces of jewelry connected to the cathode bar are also negatively charged.

When the jewelry items are submerged in the tank an electrical charge is applied and the negatively charged jewelry attracts the positively charged ions present in the solution.

The positively charged metal ions are submerged in the solution bath. When the cathode bar is lowered into the bath the metal jewelry gets plated.

The plating thickness can be controlled by adjusting the immersion time in the plating tank.  These are often times referred to as microns.

The gold layer on gold-plated jewelry varies greatly depending on the thickness of the plated items.

So, how long will plating last?  

Gold plated hamsa diamond bracelet

There really is no one-size-fits-all answer for that.  
  • It depends on the wear and tear of the piece, if you immerse it in the water while showering, swimming, washing hands, or at the beach. 
  • Do you take it off each night and carefully wipe it down and leave it stored properly in a sealed box or plastic bag.

In our humble opinion, jewelry is meant to be worn.

It is meant to be enjoyed and loved. 

Wear it, love it, treat it with respect, and if the plating does begin to show signs of aging, know that with Alef Bet Jewelry, the base metal is always sterling silver. 

So, you have on real jewelry regardless.  

Not brass or stainless steel.

I know that when I put on a piece of jewelry, and totally fall in love with it, I don't want to take it on and off and on and off.  I know that when I truly love and adore a particular piece of jewelry so much, there stands a great chance that I never want to be apart from it, not even to shower, wash hands, swim, or go to the beach. 

But, if I would remove my jewelry every night, wipe it down and put it away properly, I also know that it would remain perfect like the day I bought it.

It's a choice we have to make.

Now, on the flip side, there is also gold filled jewelry.

This is an example of a very, very popular line of gold-filled bead bracelets that come in an arrangement of sizes.  They slip on your wrist and never fade or dull.   Trust us-- you'll love these bracelets!

gold filled bracelet

 Gold bracelets made by hand

 

Gold-filled items are 50 to 100,000 times thicker than regular gold plating, and 17 to 25,000 times thicker than heavy gold electroplate.

It is sort of like an egg-shell where the inside is silver and the outer layer is gold.  Therefore, it is gold-filled.

Gold-filled items, even with daily wear, can last five to 30 years but will eventually wear through.

The above bracelet is gold-filled with 14k rose or yellow gold.  It is hand-strung and available in a many different bead sizes and available for sale at alefbet.com.

You're probably asking, why can't we just make gold-filled jewelry and skip the plated jewelry all together?

It's just not a process that lends itself to handmade jewelry.  It is more of, as we like to say, a machine-made item.  Something that can be mass produced by a machine, not first using molds and waxes and casting.

That is why bead bracelets and chains are so easy to find in 14k gold-filled metals.  A perfect example of a gold-filled paperclip chain is seen here.  The links are mass produced by a machine, allowing for this material.  If you're looking for a fabulous, trendy bracelet or necklace a paperclip chain is a fabulous addition-- shop it here.  It starts at $29 for a 7" bracelet. 

gold filled chain

Paperclip bracelet or necklace

 

Remember, gold-filled jewelry will continue to look fantastic year after year, but the cost is slightly higher.  It's totally worth it though if you don't have to worry about water or fading after a few years. 

Wrapping it up, we would like to repeat that the best way to keep your jewelry looking like new is with proper care. 

  • A gentle touch, warm, soapy water and a soft cloth is the best way to keep your jewelry sparkling. 
  • You should also store it properly in plastic and/or a jewelry box of some sort.

Here's another video to show you how to properly store and keep your jewelry looking lovely!

And remember, jewelry is meant to be worn.

Jewelry creates memories and should be enjoyed.  Leaving it in a vault, in a bag somewhere is not enjoying it.  Layer it up, pile it on, and show it off!

 And, if you'd like to save 10% off of your order after reading this blog, use code: blogger at checkout at Alefbet.com 

 


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