Does Gold Plated Jewelry Tarnish?

When investing in jewelry, one of the key considerations is how well the pieces will stand the test of time, especially when it comes to their luster and shine. Gold plated jewelry, with its appealing finish and affordable price point, often emerges as a popular choice. However, many wonder: Does gold plated jewelry tarnish?

Understanding Gold Plated Jewelry

Before delving into whether gold plated jewelry tarnishes, it's crucial to understand what gold plating is. Gold plated jewelry consists of a base metal, typically copper, brass, or silver, coated with a thin layer of gold through an electrochemical process. The thickness of the gold layer can vary but is generally much thinner than that found in solid gold or gold-filled items.

The Reality of Tarnishing

The straightforward answer is yes, gold plated jewelry can tarnish over time. Tarnishing refers to the dulling, discoloration, or corrosion that occurs as a result of a chemical reaction between the jewelry surface and various external factors. While gold itself is highly resistant to tarnish, the thin gold layer in gold plated jewelry is susceptible to wear and degradation, exposing the base metal underneath to air and moisture that can lead to tarnishing.

Factors Influencing Tarnishing

Several factors can accelerate the tarnishing process of gold plated jewelry:

  1. Exposure to Elements: Contact with perfumes, lotions, sweat, and even air can contribute to the breakdown of the gold layer, especially if it is very thin.
  2. Skin pH: Individuals with more acidic skin may notice that their gold plated jewelry tarnishes more quickly.
  3. Frequency of Wear: Daily wear increases exposure to elements and skin, which can hasten tarnishing.
  4. Care and Storage: Improper cleaning and storage can lead to scratches on the gold surface and increase exposure of the base metal.

Preventing and Managing Tarnish

While tarnishing is a possibility with gold plated jewelry, proper care can significantly extend the life and beauty of your pieces:

  • Gentle Cleaning: Use a soft, damp cloth to clean your jewelry. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive materials.
  • Proper Storage: Keep your jewelry in a dry, cool place, preferably in individual soft pouches or a jewelry box lined with fabric.
  • Mindful Wearing: Remove your jewelry during activities that may lead to excessive sweating or exposure to harsh chemicals, such as exercising, cleaning, or swimming.
  • Regular Maintenance: Periodically check your jewelry for signs of wear and have it re-plated if necessary.


Gold plated jewelry offers the beauty and appeal of gold at a more accessible price point. While it is true that such jewelry can tarnish over time, understanding the contributing factors and adopting proper care routines can help preserve the shine and beauty of your gold plated pieces, allowing you to enjoy them for many years to come.

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