A buyers guide to gold plated jewellery

Does gold plated jewellery tarnish?

Yes, gold-plated jewelry does tarnish. Over time the thin layer of gold can wear down, exposing the base metal underneath. This can cause the jewelry to lose its shine or even take on a discoloured appearance.

Gold plated jewelry is made by applying a layer of gold onto a base metal usually silver, brass or stainless steel through a process called electroplating. The gold layer gives the gold plated jewelry its allure, resembling solid gold jewellery. 

The thickness of the gold layer can vary, but it is typically between 0.5 to 2.5 microns. As a general rule of thumb a high quality gold plated finish would be atleast 1.0 micron. This layer of gold can wear off over time, exposing the base metal underneath and causing a tarnished look.

Gold plated jewelry is generally more affordable than solid gold jewelry, making it a popular choice for those looking for a budget-friendly jewelry option that still offers a gold-like look.

    Does gold plated jewelry have any hallmarks or stamps?

    Unlike solid gold jewelry, gold-plated jewelry typically won't have any hallmarks. Hallmarks are tiny markings like 375 for 9k gold and 925 for 925 sterling silver, stamped on precious metals to indicate their purity and authenticity. These markings are regulated by companies such as the assay office and ensure you're getting what you pay for.

    However, there are a few exceptions:

    • Hallmarked Base Metal: If the base metal used under the gold plating is itself a precious metal, like sterling silver (Vermeil Jewelry), it might have a hallmark but only if the piece meets a certain weight requirement (usually over 7.78 grams for sterling silver).
    • Manufacturer's Mark: Some brands and manufacturers might include their own stamp or logo, but this won't tell you anything about the gold content. It might indicate the plating process used (e.g., "GEP" for gold electroplate).

    So, while hallmarks aren't a reliable way to identify gold-plated jewelry, the absence of a hallmark can be a clue. If you're unsure, it's always best to consult the seller or look for the piece's description which should mention if it's plated, sterling silver or solid gold.

    Why gold plated jewellery tarnishes?

    Gold-plated jewelry offers a beautiful and affordable way to add a touch of gold to your look. But as we've discussed, the plating can wear down over time. The good news is, with a little TLC, you can extend the lifetime of your pieces and keep your gold-plated jewellery shining!

    Several factors can affect the durability of gold plated jewellery:

    • Contact with chemicals: Harsh chemicals, such as chlorine or certain cleaning agents, can damage the gold plated layer on your jewelry.
    • Moisture and humidity: Excessive moisture or exposure to humidity can cause the gold plated layer to tarnish faster which is why we always reccomend removing your gold plated jewellery before showering. 
    • Physical impact: Gold plated jewellery can be susceptible to scratches or dents from physical impact. It is important to handle and store your jewelry carefully to prevent damage.
    • Frequency of wear: Jewelry that is worn frequently is more likely to show signs of wear and tear, regardless of whether it is gold plated or solid gold. Proper maintenance can help prolong the lifespan of both types of jewelry. 

    Click Here to read Tyresse's top tips and tricks to care for your jewellery.


    How to care for your gold plated jewelry?

    Here are some tips for caring for your gold-plated jewelry:

    • Store your gold plated jewelry with care: Don't just throw your gold-plated jewelry in a drawer. Invest in a jewelry box or jewelry pouch to prevent scratches and keep it away from harsh chemicals and sunlight.
    • Take off your jewelry during certain activities: Avoid wearing your gold-plated jewelry when swimming, showering, or exercising. Chlorine, salt water, and sweat can all accelerate tarnishing.
    • Clean it gently: For regular cleaning, use a soft polishing cloth specifically designed for jewelry. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the electro-plating.
    • Put it on last: Apply lotions, perfume, or hairspray before putting on your gold plated jewelry. These products can build up on the gold layer and dull its shine.
    • Know when to let go: Even with proper care, the gold plating will eventually wear off. If the base metal is exposed or the piece looks excessively worn, it might be time to retire it or consider getting it replated (if possible).
    • Avoid wearing your gold-plated jewelry during certain tasks: This includes things like swimming, showering, exercising, cleaning with harsh products, or gardening. Always put your gold plated jewelry on after applying lotions, perfumes or aftershaves and hairspray.
    • Regularly inspect your gold-plated jewelry for dirt and grime: Use a soft jewelry polishing cloth specifically designed for gold plated jewelry to gently clean your jewelry. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the plating.

    By following these simple tips, you can enjoy your gold-plated jewelry for years to come!

    How Long Does Gold-Plated Jewellery Last?

    The million-dollar question! How long will my gold plated jewellery really last for? The truth is, the lifespan of gold-plated jewelry depends on several factors we discussed earlier including the thickness of the gold plating, how frequently you wear your gold plated jewellery pieces and whether you maintain a regular cleaning routine for your items including storing them appropriately, you can find Tyresse's top tips for cleaning your gold plated jewelry here. High-quality gold plating will last anywhere from 2 to 5 years. However, some pieces might show signs of wear sooner, especially if the plating is thin and the gold plated jewelry is exposed to frequent wear and tear.

    Here are some signs that your gold-plated jewelry might be nearing the end of its time.

    • The gold plating layer is chipping or peeling, revealing the base metal underneath.
    • The gold plated jewellery has lost its shine and appears dull.
    • The base metal is tarnishing or turning green/black (especially if copper is used).

    If your gold-plated jewelry shows these signs, you can decide whether to retire it, get it replated (if possible), or simply enjoy it as a vintage piece with a unique look.

    Read Tyresse's top tips & tricks on caring for your gold plated jewelry.

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