Very, very thin layers of almost any substance are more susceptible to damage than thicker layers. Makes sense, right? A sheet of writing paper is easier to tear than a piece of cardboard.It takes little effort to break a rubber band. Pulling apart a rubber automobile tire is another story. For this reason, it pays to be careful with your plated jewelry.
Perfumes, creams, lotions, and makeup all contain substances than can affect plated jewelry. Some soaps and detergents are stronger and harsher than others. Certain fruits and vegetables are acidic. Some are more alkaline.
The point is, any substance that isn’t PH neutral can potentially affect your plated jewelry. I’m no chemist, but I can offer you a few suggestions to extend the life of your gold plating.
I’ve been asked why salt water would effect gold plating. Plating is an electrical process, and salt water is a good conductor of electricity. Getting technical here, molecules of salt are made of sodium ions and chlorine ions. When you combine salt with water molecules, the water molecules pull the sodium and chlorine ions apart so they are floating freely. Those ions are electricity carriers through water. What electricity in the plating process deposits, water and salt in the ocean can to a lessor degree un-deposit. If you swim regularly in the ocean it will speed the breakdown of your plating.
Rose gold plating is particularly vulnerable to salt water. This is because salt is corrosive to copper and there is a lot of copper in rose gold plating.
The chlorine and other chemicals added to swimming pools and hot tubs can also produce adverse effects on plated jewelry. The chlorine in Jacuzzi’s and pools, will attack various metals. This will hurt your plating. It can cause a dull look or an uneven look to the gold Bijouterie.
Last but not least, one’s own body chemistry can be harsh on plating. Just like fruit, some people are more acidic than others. Depending on one’s diet, it’s not uncommon for chemicals perspired through the pores of the skin to cause plated jewelry to tarnish and discolor.
Some people sweat more than others. If Jill works out for two hours every day and Joyce is a CPA riding a desk, Jill should remove her plated rings before going to the gym and Joyce, can stylishly rock her gold plated bracelets and necklaces while crunching numbers.
Some Home Jewelry Cleaning Tools
Plated jewelry should be cleaned periodically. Even if you’re sure your ring hasn’t been exposed to any of the aforementioned substances, it’s been in contact with your skin—which does perspire.
Wash plated jewelry with warm water. Use a mild soap only if necessary. Getting junk out of nooks and crannies with an old, soft toothbrush is Okay. If you need to use toothpaste use a gentle one with no whitening agents or abrasives in it.
Be gentle and don’t rub too hard. I’ve seen examples of gold plated jewelry where vigorous rubbing with a polishing cloth took off some of the gold plating, revealing the darker less appealing metal underneath.