Monday, March 7, 2011

 How to take care of gold plated jewelry?

Nowadays, gold plated jewelry have become part of vogue because it allows you to enjoy luxury of real gold in an affordable price. However, the plating surface has a certain lifespan and requires a proper care and maintenance to prolong its life.

very modern "brushed" black gold plated ring.
black gold may be the most difficult plating surface to take care of

assorted gold plated hoops

It's almost impossible for anybody to give an exact prediction of how many months or years or any time frame the plated surface will last. It depends on a few important factors as shown below.

I wear my gold plated bands and also earrings for a long time already. They still look beautiful with only small signs of a regular wear and tear. The plating surface of earrings will last significantly longer than the plating of the ring. Reason is simply because I wear them less often and the exposure to rough surface is almost zero. I expect the plating surface of...
>> earrings to last for 3-5 years (or even longer!).
>> rings to last for about months to a year before I need to replate it.
***This is only an estimated lifespan judged from my personal usage & caring of the jewelry.

4 factors contributed to durability of the gold plating surface:

1. Thickness of its layer. Our plated jewelry is usually plated with a very thick layer of gold (mostly 2 micron). We are confident that our plating will last significantly longer than the average mass market plating quality.

2. Exposure the jewelry is given. In my opinion, this is the most important factor.
Extreme examples would be when you work with a rough or abrasive surface. For example, when you work with a wrench or when you move a stone. These rough activities can cause really bad scratch lines which cut through the undermetal.

Lighter day to day activities can also gradually cause an unnoticeable wear & tear. For example,when you strike the ring on a keyboard, when you swipe the ring on a steering
wheel, or lift a luggage, or use a vacuum cleaner.

3. Direct or constant exposure to some chemical. For example solvent, hair spray, and including your own body sweat.

4. Skin pH.  Last but not least, this is the most unpredictable factor.  Some skin simply gets along well with the plating than others.  From our experience, in an extreme case, the plating may last for only days for certain few customers.  

Black gold plating is generally more vulnerable to scratches / bumps than other gold plating options. Reason is simply because the inner metal (usually silver or gold) has a very high contrast color with black. For example, when the black gold plated ring gets scratched, you will see a (contrasting) white scratch line which is the color of the inner metal, silver.

With the same rationale, we can also draw a conclusion that "Yellow gold plating over solid yellow gold metal" and "White gold plating over silver or solid white gold metal" will yield significantly less obvious scratches. For example, when the white gold plating surface is deeply scratched, you will still see a white / silver base metal, silver.

3 Simple ways to take care of your gold plated jewelry
1. Avoid bumping / cracking / scratching the ring on a hard or rough or abrasive surface.
Take off the ring when you need to work with a hard surface or tools.

2. Avoid direct contact with chemical / grease / very high temperature
This includes large amount of sweat. Regular body grease is ok. Take off your ring when you go exercise etc.

3. Clean the gold plated ring with soft cotton cloth and warm water. Use a tiny drop of liquid soap if needed. Do not use jewelry cloth as it usually contains chemical that will scrub off the surface.

Read article about Jewelry Polishing Cloth here