What Is the Best Way to Clean Gold?

by Heide Braley

What Is the Best Way to Clean Gold?

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Gold, silver, diamonds, emeralds and rubies are some of the costliest gifts at Christmas time. They are treasures for a lifetime and need to be specially cared for to keep their luster. The good thing about real jewelry is that it does not take much effort to keep it nice. Usually, the only place dirt can collect on your pendants, rings, earrings, or charms is in the crevices where the jewels are held in place or the gold is engraved.

Significance

Gold jewelry has always been worn as a status symbol, whether simply to mean, "I am married" with the wedding ring, or "I am wealthy," with gold studded with diamonds and rubies, or, "My parents think I am beautiful" with the little earrings found on little babies. Keeping the gold clean and glowing is important for any of these fashions.

Prevention/Solution

Keeping gold clean is a combination of cleaning and proper storage. Lotions, creams and even body oils and sweat can leave a film on the surface of gold, leaving it dull. Dirt will accumulate in the little cracks and solidify over time. Gold can be cleaned in a simple solution of hot water and dish soap. Drop it in and let it soak for at least a half an hour. Use a soft bristled toothbrush or eyebrow brush to brush the surfaces until they are all clean. Dry the gold piece with a lint free cloth and store it in a cloth lined container or bag. For tough dirt, use ammonia and hot water in equal parts and soak for about a half an hour.

Considerations

Gold in its purest form is not bothered by most chemicals. It is very rare and costly because of it. Since it is malleable, it can be scratched, especially by diamonds. Most jewelry is a mix of gold and other metals, like silver, copper and nickle, to add hardness to the product. The amount of gold in a piece of jewelry is measured in karats. The purest forms have very high ratings from 24 karats and down to less expensive pieces that are 9 karat gold. Gold plated jewelry has to be handled gently as the gold will usually wear off with use. The higher the karat, the less cleaning has to be done as the level of gold is so high.

Warning

Cleaning gold is pretty simple until it is attached to other substances that might tarnish or more especially with jewels or pearls. Most jewelry can handle dish soap and water but you need to be very careful in brushing or rubbing pearls or opals as their natural finish will wear off . Always remove your gold when working with bleach or other household chemicals, or at least wear rubber gloves. Bleach can oxidize the gold.

Misconceptions

One of the most common mistakes people make in cleaning gold and other jewelry is using toothpaste. Toothpaste has harsh surfactants, fluoride and abrasive material that can scratch your jewelry. It is especially damaging to gold plated jewelry as the finish can be polished right off and you will be left with a dull piece of jewelry without any gold left.

Another problem arises when people use polishing cloths designed for silver. The cloth is impregnated with microabrasives that will remove tarnish from silver but will scratch gold-plated items. Stick with a jewelers cloth like Selvyt polishing cloths for your fine jewelry.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Maryland resident Heide Braley is a professional writer who contributes to a variety of websites. She has focused more than 10 years of research on botanical and garden articles and was awarded a membership to the Society of Professional Journalists. Braley has studied at Pennsylvania State University and Villanova University.