How to Clean Gold Jewelry, According to a Professional Jeweler

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how-to-clean-gold-jewelry: A woman's hand holds a gold ring on the background of a transparent jewelry box with accessories.
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Gold jewelry is beautiful, durable and relatively easy to maintain. That said, not all gold is created equal and even the solid (i.e., not gold-plated) stuff requires an occasional polish. Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about how to clean gold jewelry per an expert, plus how best to care for it so you don’t even have to fuss over it that often.

Meet the Expert

Francesca Kelly is the co-founder of SORU Jewelry, which she created with her sister.The sustainable jewelry brand is designed in England, and ethically hand crafted by artisans in Italy and Turkey. Inspired by their Sicilian heritage, Francesca and her sister, Marianna, utilize the most unique fine and semi-fine materials in their pieces, and Francesca is an expert at caring for all the materials they work with and sell.

how-to-clean-gold-jewelry: A person cleans a wedding ring with water in the kitchen. The glove is pink and the ring is gold.
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How to Clean Gold Jewelry

The expert tells us that cleaning gold jewelry is exceedingly simple and no special materials are required, except a soft, lint-free cloth (i.e., microfiber cloth). The most important thing is to keep chemicals out of the equation and avoid abrasive cleaning cloths so as not to scratch the surface of the jewelry. Here’s how to restore your shiny gold jewelry in three easy steps.

  1. Fill a bowl with water. Warm water is best and it’s all you need. However, Kelly says if you really feel compelled to add something to the water, a drop of mild dish soap is acceptable.
  2. Submerge the gold jewelry in the water. This one’s pretty straightforward. Give your gold a nice little bath. If the jewelry has a lot of hard to reach places, you can use a Q-tip or cotton ball to get into the cracks and crevices.
  3. Remove the jewelry from the water and dry it with a soft, microfiber cloth. Use the cloth to gently polish the jewelry as you dry it…and ta-da, you’re done!
how-to-clean-gold-jewelry: Women's hands choosing golden ring from her jewelry box .
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How Often Should You Clean Gold Jewelry?

Per the expert, there’s no hard and fast rule as to how often you should clean gold jewelry. For starters, it depends on how often you wear it. The best rule of thumb is simply to polish up your gold jewelry following the steps described above whenever it starts to look lackluster and avoiding certain things that are likely to make it need more frequent cleaning (but more on that below).

how-to-clean-gold-jewelry: Beautiful gold jewelry in a box situated on top of a red piece of fabric.
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How to Keep Gold Jewelry Clean

Kelly tells us that there are quite a few things you can do—or not do, as it were—to keep your gold jewelry sparkling clean and in good condition. Here are her key tips:

  • When not being worn, store your gold jewelry in an airtight container in a dark place. (If the jewelry came with a pouch, you should use it, or just invest in a jewelry box.) “Solid gold should be OK in direct sunlight but any gold plated jewelry is likely to tarnish if exposed for long periods of time,” explains Kelly.
  • Never use harsh chemicals to clean gold jewelry. “If you want to use anything apart from a lint-free polishing cloth, I would only recommend water.” Roger that.
  • Kelly acknowledges that this final tip is a pretty unpopular one, but when it comes to gold jewelry you really care about it’s important: “never put jewelry over lotions such as sun lotion or body lotion and don’t spray perfumes near them either.” As such, the expert generally recommends you avoid wearing jewelry in the shower or at the beach, where it's most likely to come into contact with soaps and lotions.
how-to-clean-gold-jewelry: A jeweler, produces hand made a ring, uses metal rasp. The ring is a natural gold rock with a pronged setting.
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When You Should Go to a Professional

According to Kelly, gold jewelry is very durable, so if the piece in question is starting to look particularly worn out or tarnished, there’s a good chance it’s only gold-plated. Solid gold jewelry will rarely, if ever, require a professional cleaning; gold-plated jewelry, on the other hand, can be restored to its former glory by a professional if it starts to show any signs of discoloration.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Household Ingredients Can You Use to Clean Gold Jewelry?

As previously mentioned, the expert advises cleaning gold jewelry with nothing more than water and a polishing cloth, but a drop or two of mild dish soap will do no harm if you find the water-only method unsatisfying.

What Ingredients Should You Avoid Using to Clean Gold Jewelry?

This one is easy because the answer is, well, everything. All harsh chemicals should be avoided, and the same goes for common household cleaning ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, etc. Bottom line: Your gold will shine brighter if you keep it away from everything but your (lotion-free) skin.

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Emma Singer is a freelance contributing editor and writer at PureWow who has over 7 years of professional proofreading, copyediting and writing experience. At PureWow, she covers...