by Dan Day, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®
Do you want to prolong the beauty of your gold-plated jewelry? By adopting a "gold-standard" of best cleaning and care practices, you can keep your plated jewelry better protected.
Jewelry components are plated or finished using a base metal*--usually steel, brass or "pewter" (zinc alloy)--that is submerged in an electroplating bath for enough time to thoroughly coat the item with the finish, normally either gold or silver. Given this information, you'll need to decide what specialized product will suit how you expect to use it. In other words, will you wear this item all the time, for swimming, sleeping, etc.? If this is the case, you may want to choose a precious metal jewelry component, desirable for its longevity and ability to be touched-up and polished.
How often should you clean your plated jewelry? Generally, the more you wear it, the more you should clean it. Be aware that different types of jewelry pieces experience plating wear differently. A ring or bracelet will receive a lot of friction and contact with a variety of surfaces, whereas a necklace and earrings will receive a lot less contact.
Just wearing your jewelry makes it susceptible to the effects of moisture, cleaning products, oil, perfume, nail polish, hairspray and sweat as well as oxidation from the air we breathe, all of which can deteriorate the plating.
For cleaning gold-plated jewelry, use a small section of a slightly damp cloth and gently wipe off the dust, dirt or other substances, then dry with a clean towel. Blitz® Sterling Silver shine cloth can be used with silver-plated jewelry. As with any cleaning method, test it out on a small section of plated jewelry, preferably a part that doesn't normally show.
Avoid Abrasives and Harsh Cleansers
Because plated jewelry has a thin layer of surface color (gold or silver), it can easily be rubbed off by products that are too harsh for it such as jewelry cleaners and tarnish remover that have corrosives. Polishing cloths with rouge should not be used to clean plated jewelry; it will quickly rub off the plating.
Last On/First Off
Remember the rule: last on/first off. Jewelry should be the last thing you put on after makeup and other accessories, and should be the first thing you take off.
Avoid wearing your jewelry while showering, swimming and exercising. Try to prevent your jewelry from being exposed to chemicals from lotions, perfumes, oil blends, spritz and hairspray.
*A base of steel, stainless steel, brass or aluminum may add a slight cast to the color, making it look more gold with a red tint, a greenish tint, or a white-yellow color. It is difficult and almost impossible to achieve the same color of plated metals consistently across product lines, countries, vendors and use longevity.