Caring for your Gold Filled Jewellery
An economical alternative to expensive, pure gold jewellery, gold filled jewellery can last for years, often decades, but how long it lasts depends heavily on a few different factors. The three main ones are:
- What it comes into contact with.
- How often you clean it.
- How you store it when it’s not in use.
What your gold filled jewellery comes into contact with
There are many things that can cause your gold filled jewellery to tarnish. The three main offenders are:
- Chlorine (think swimming pools and hot tubs) and salt water/sea water
Wearing your jewellery in swimming pools and hot tubs is probably one of the worst things you can do to it. Both gold filled and sterling silver jewellery can tarnish pretty much immediately on contact with such heavily chlorinated water. I strongly recommend removing all jewellery before taking a dip in any chlorinated pools or hot tubs!
- Your own body chemistry and sweat
The salt contained in your sweat can also cause your jewellery to tarnish, again especially rose gold filled jewellery. Everyday wear is fine but if you’re exercising/working out, heading to the sauna or steam room, or you’re living or holidaying in a very hot and humid place, it’s best to remove your jewellery to prevent it starting to tarnish.
- Cosmetic products, perfumes, body lotions, etc
How often should you clean your gold filled jewellery?
Regular cleaning is important if you want to keep your gold filled jewellery looking its best. Few of us manage to maintain our jewellery daily – we all have hectic lives – but if you can gently clean your piece of jewellery with a soft cloth after each use, it will keep it at its best for longer.
Any tarnish that does develop on your gold filled jewellery can usually be polished off quite easily. Just remember to be gentle. If you want to do a deep clean of your jewellery - for example, if you know you’ve been a bit rough on it that day (you forgot to remove it at the gym or it’s been in contact with sunscreen etc) - this is how to do it:
- Add a tiny amount of MILD dish soap to a small bowl of warm water.
- Add your jewellery piece to the bowl and let it soak for approximately one minute.
- Take hold of the piece and clean it gently with a soft, microfibre cloth. For more detailed pieces, such as chains, ring bezels, clasps, filigree, etc, you can use a very soft toothbrush (a baby toothbrush is perfect) to gently brush away any built up dirt.
- Rinse your jewellery thoroughly. Do this as many times as necessary to ensure all of the soap is completely removed.
- Dry the piece thoroughly on a soft, dry cloth.
To remove any dark tarnish - perhaps if you haven’t worn a piece in a long while (and didn’t store it properly!) - you can use a jewellery polishing cloth. These super soft cloths contain a polishing compound to gently clean and remove tarnish. Here in my studio, I love to use Sunshine Cloths (an American company but widely available here in the UK too) but if you can’t get those just make sure that the cloth you use is as soft as possible and states it is compatible with gold jewellery.
To use the cloth, simply wipe the piece gently with the cloth – don’t buff or rub harshly or you’ll end up damaging the finish of your jewellery. You’ll know the cloth is working when you see it start to turn black. That’s not dirt or tarnish from the jewellery, it’s simply the polishing compound working!
To clean heavily tarnished, more ornate pieces, you can use a polishing liquid or cream. There are several different types; just be sure to pick one that states it is compatible with gold filled jewellery and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
IMPORTANT NOTE! Jewellery pieces containing gemstones and/or freshwater pearls should be cleaned with great care. While it’s usually fine to use the polishing cloths on such pieces and only brush over the gems or pearls once or twice, you should never clean gemstone or real pearl jewellery with liquid or cream cleaners without first checking compatibility very carefully. These cleaners can permanently damage some gemstones and pretty much all pearls will be ruined.
How should you store your gold filled jewellery when it’s not in use?
Proper storage of your gold filled jewellery is also an important factor in keeping it looking like new. Whenever your gold filled jewellery is not being worn, it’s best to store it in an airtight bag or container (a small plastic Ziplock bag is ideal) inside a jewellery box or case. Realistically, few of us ever manage to store our jewellery like this and if you’re like me, it ends up on the bedside table overnight (at best) but if you can remember to store it properly, it really will extend the life of your piece, especially if you live somewhere hot and humid!
If you'd like to see more of my jewellery, you can visit The Tiny Tree Frog's online shop HERE.