Unless you're Kate Middleton, it's likely that the bulk of your jewelry collection is primarily gold plated rather than solid gold. And there's no shame in that: Gold plating (aka "gold vermeil") helps keep costs down and allows designers to create more innovative intricate shapes out of stronger silver or brass before gilding it in the good stuff.
Given how often we rely on gold-plated jewelry to amp up our looks, we ought to be giving said pieces more TLC. With that in mind, we've broken down exactly how to clean gold-plated jewelry. Follow the five steps outlined below regularly to keep your collections sparkling for years to come. Now if only we could figure out how to keep our necklaces from getting tangled…
1. Beauty lovers beware.
Keeping gold-plated jewelry clean and shiny starts far before you fasten your bracelets on for the day. The perfumes and hand creams we love to drench ourselves in often contain chemicals that can tarnish and even dissolve the thin layer of gold on your jewelry. So, instead of spritzing on your Le Labo and then running out of the house, apply your perfume (or any fragranced product) a couple minutes before putting on your jewelry. That will give the product time to settle into your skin. The same also goes for sweat, so be sure to remove your jewelry before that next hot-yoga session.
2. Gently wipe down pieces after every wear.
Get into the habit of cleaning gold-plated jewelry by wiping down pieces after every wear (yes, that means actually taking off your favorite necklace!). The trick is to be as gentle as possible, so skip the traditional polishing cloth, as its subtle texture can actually scratch the gold plating off, and instead go in with a cotton ball and lightly wipe down the posts of your earrings, chain of your bracelet, and that pretty pendant. If you'd like to use a cloth, go for the softest one you can find—one designed to clean glasses and camera lenses like the microfiber cloth below should do the trick.
3. Deep clean with soap and warm water.
Every couple weeks, you should give your most-worn jewelry a deeper clean. Again, being gentle is key, so ditch the harsh jewelry cleaners and polishing liquids and go for a combo of warm water and basic soap (it's important to note here that you do not want to use an antibacterial soap, as it contains chemicals that can tarnish gold-plating). Soak your pieces in the solution for a couple of minutes to loosen up any dirt and residue, and then carefully wipe them down with a soft cloth to restore shine.
4. Consider your storage options.
In addition to knowing how to clean gold-plated jewelry properly, knowing how best to store your go-to necklaces and earrings is also key to keeping them looking like new. The best method is to store jewelry made of similar materials together, as chucking gold-plated pieces in with silver ones can make your entire collection tarnish more quickly. Individually wrapping pieces in cloth or storing them in separate baggies is an easy way to keep everything safely separated, or you can invest in a jewelry box with dividers like the ones below.
5. Bring in the professionals.
Still not sure how to clean that gold-plated jewelry piece? You should never be afraid to take it to a jeweler for a bit of expert TLC. They'll be able to carefully polish off any residue that just won't budge, and if that necklace you wear everywhere is severely tarnished or scratched, many will be able to replate it for you, making it look as good as it did the first time you clasped it on.
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