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  • 5 min read

Having solid gold jewelry is the ultimate status symbol, making it clear to those around you that you’re a force to be reckoned with. Gold has long been known to represent wealth and opulence ever since Ancient Egyptians first used it as a symbol of hierarchy. But now, most people wear it just to look cool.

If you’re only in it for the looks, there’s really no reason to spend so much money on solid gold when gold-plated pieces are equally as stylish without being nearly as expensive. But the lower price does also mean a bit of a drop in quality.

Here’s everything you need to know about how long gold-plated jewelry lasts, as well as how you can extend its lifespan with ease.

What Is Gold Plating in Jewelry?

Solid gold jewelry can run a pretty high price tag for a few different reasons. For one, gold tends to be a little bit more durable compared to some other metals as it is mostly resistant to tarnish. Not to mention, it’s a relatively rare metal that is hard to come by. Believe it or not, one of the main reasons that gold is so expensive is that we place a lot of value on the item as a society.

To make gold pieces more accessible for people who still want to amp up their style without the budget for pure gold, gold plating is a great option. With these, a less expensive base metal is covered with a thin layer of gold. This gives it that polished, pristine look without the cost of the entire piece being made of this precious metal.

Gold plating is slightly different from gold vermeil, which is made with sterling silver as the base metal and a thicker layer of gold (at least 2.5 microns in width). This makes vermeil a bit more of a middle-ground option between plating and pure gold pieces.

How Long Does Gold Plating Last?

Gold plating is admittedly not as durable as pure gold pieces, which comes with a difference in price. However, the length of time that your plated piece lasts without breaking is entirely dependent on how well you take care of your pieces.

In general, you can expect some general wear and tear to take place in about a year when it comes to your gold-plated pieces. With that said, it has the potential to last several years if you take care of them properly.

What Factors Affect Gold Plating?

There are certain habits and lifestyles that can put your plated piece at a greater risk of being tarnished more quickly.

Moisture

One of the biggest contributors to wear and tear on any piece of jewelry is moisture. When metals, like gold, become wet, it can lead to excessive oxidation on the surface if they are not dried properly. This can affect the lifespan of your pieces and make them wear away much more quickly.

Before hopping in the pool or the shower, be sure to remove your gold-plated bracelets or chains to prevent them from becoming wet. You also want to remove them before excessively sweating during a workout or on super humid days where there is a high moisture content in the air.

If your piece does become wet, dry it off as soon as possible to prevent it from becoming tarnished. Use a soft microfiber cloth to ensure you don’t scratch off the surface of the gold plating.

Chemicals

Solid gold is durable and can often withstand the harsh abrasiveness of some cleaning products. However, gold plating is often a gold alloy, meaning that it is mixed with another metal. These metals are usually not as strong when it comes to being exposed to certain cleaners.

Household cleaners like bleach or detergents have a tendency to weaken the bond that the gold-plated alloy is composed of, leading to erosion of the finish. This makes your piece look duller and less pristine overall. Remove your gold before you use harsh detergents or bleach.

When you do decide to clean your gold pieces (which you should), use a mild cleanser to try to preserve the finish.

Excessive Wear

Since gold plating is a thin layer of gold over a base metal, physical trauma to the piece is usually more noticeable compared to a solid gold piece with the same characteristics. If you love your plated piece, simply wearing it over and over can make it wear away naturally.

Your sweat and other oils on your body, as well as your piece being banged up against other objects, can cause it to wear away. Not to mention, if you don’t store your piece properly away from other metals, it can have the potential to make your gold plating knick and scrape.

How To Preserve Your Plated Pieces

If you’re looking to extend the lifespan of your favorite gold-plated options, there are a few ways you can make sure they’re built to last. For one, be sure to clean them properly.

When it comes to cleaning a gold-plated piece, use a mild dish cleanser to make sure that you don’t scrape off the surface too harshly. Submerge your piece into a solution of a few drops of dish soap and lukewarm water. After soaking for about 20 minutes, remove and run under lukewarm water. Finally, be sure to dry clean with a microfiber cloth.

Additionally, the way you store your pieces can completely make or break them. Store your plated pieces in a secure location that protects them from outside moisture. You also want to make sure that your gold piece does not touch or rub against other pieces, as gold is relatively low on the hardness scale and can be scratched by other metals fairly easily.

Last but not least, give your favorite piece a little bit of a break. We know you might love your new chain or gold-plated tennis bracelet, but do your best to try switching it out for a different piece every now and then. This helps prevent it from becoming tarnished from normal wear and tear as easily.

In Conclusion

Gold-plated jewelry offers an affordable alternative to pure gold pieces that still has the same pristine appearance. Gold-plated pieces still use real gold — it’s just a thinner layer of gold laid over the top of a different type of base metal.

Gold-plated pieces have the potential to last for a long time if you care for them properly. But things like wear and tear, chemical and moisture exposure, as well as physical trauma, can make your piece become a little less perfect than you once got it.

That’s why it’s also important to get your piece from a place you can trust. 6 Ice is the finest purveyor of high-quality jewelry, and if your gold-plated jewelry wears away from normal wear and tear, we’ll work with you to make things right. Browse the 6 Ice collection and find the perfect match today.

Sources:

Early History of Jewelry: Ancient Times to the 17th Century | International Gem Society

Secrets Behind Gold's Unexpected Oxidation Uncovered by Chemical Engineering Professor and Student | UH Cullen College of Engineering

Mohs Hardness Scale | U.S. National Park Service

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