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If you're shopping for jewellery, chances are you've seen plenty of brands claiming that their product is tarnish-free. However, it's too good to be true.
Gold-plated, vermeil and solid gold jewellery can tarnish over time. While pure gold (24 karat) is truly tarnish-free, as it's one of the most unreactive elements on Earth, it's too soft for most jewellery designs.
So, pure gold is alloyed with other metals to ensure its durable enough for everyday wear. Although the gold itself will never tarnish, the metals alloyed with it can cause tarnishing.
With that said, several elements affect how quickly - if at all - gold jewellery tarnishes. If you're looking for the short answer: no, gold will never tarnish, but other metals used in gold jewellery can.
What is gold tarnishing?
Tarnishing occurs when the surface of the gold reacts with substances such as air, water, or chemicals, resulting in discolouration or a darkening of the metal.
To prevent tarnishing, it's important to limit the exposure of your precious gold jewellery to chemicals, such as perfumes and lotions. Proper storage in a dry and sealed box or bag can also minimise the risk of tarnishing.
While solid gold is a lot less likely to tarnish than gold-plated jewellery, it can still become dull due to everyday wear. Thankfully, a simple cleaning with a soft cloth, warm soapy water, and regular polishing can help maintain and restore its shine.
Understanding Solid Gold
Solid gold is a precious metal used for centuries in jewellery making. It is an alloy of gold and other metals like copper, silver, and zinc. The purity of solid gold is measured in karats, with 24 karats being pure gold.
Most jewellery is made with 14k, 18k, or 22k solid gold, which contains a percentage of other metals to make it more durable. The higher the gold purity, the less likely your jewellery will tarnish.
Solid Gold vs Plated and Vermeil
Gold-plated and gold vermeil jewellery is much more likely to tarnish and lose its original quality much quicker than solid gold.
This is because gold-plated and vermeil contain minimal amounts of pure gold plated over cheaper base metals, which are often susceptible to tarnishing. In a nutshell, all plated jewellery will eventually tarnish as the base metal is exposed.
Learn more about different types of gold here.
How to care for gold jewellery
Solid gold jewellery can last a lifetime if proper care keeps it shiny and free from scratches. Here are some tips for maintaining your solid gold jewellery:
- Clean your jewellery regularly: Clean your gold jewellery with mild soap and warm water using a soft-bristled brush. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or rubbing too hard, which can cause scratches.
- Store your jewellery correctly: After cleaning, store it in a soft-lined box or bag, away from other jewellery that may scratch or damage it.
- Avoid exposing your jewellery to chemicals: Remove your jewellery before swimming or using cleaning products, as chemicals can cause damage to the surface of the gold.
- Polish your jewellery: Gold can become dull over time due to regular wear. Thankfully, using a non-abrasive polishing cloth can restore the shine of your gold jewellery.
Authenticity and Purchasing Tips
Investing in solid gold jewellery is a significant expense, and ensuring you're getting genuine solid gold is crucial.
In the UK, it's a legal requirement for all gold jewellery weighing over 1 gram to be hallmarked by the assay offer. Purity marks such as "14K" or "18K" indicate the amount of gold present in the piece of jewellery. So, all our jewellery is hallmarked at the London Assay office.
In addition to hallmarks, check for customer reviews and review returns, refunds, and warranty policies.
Punjabi for 'lifetime', Umara is home to solid gold jewellery crafted to last forever. We use 14 and 18 karat solid gold in all our designs. With minimal TLC, our jewellery will retain its original quality for years, minus any unnecessary price tags.