Learn how to care for your gold jewellery to lengthen its lifespan and ensure it always shines. Avoid lacklustre gemstones, tarnished metal, and faded platings.
Golden jewellery versus your 197-step skincare routine: a saga
A sticky layer coats your favourite gold pendant; the colour on your gold vermeil plated hoops is fading quickly and they feel tacky to touch; your brass ring is turning black; and your diamond studs are lacklustre. Sound familiar?
You don't put your body cream on over your trousers or wear a t-shirt in the shower, so why do you do this with something as precious as your golden jewellery? Metals and gemstones are often strong but never invincible. They require an element of care and maintenance just like everything else you wear. Whether you find yourself reaching for gold vermeil plated jewels or solid gold pieces, it's important to know how to properly care for what often are the most expensive items in your wardrobe. This will lengthen their lifespan and ensure that your gold jewellery always does what it was bought to do: shine.
Wearing jewellery in the shower and when washing your hands
Exposing jewellery to water speeds up the tarnishing process and makes it more likely that your jewellery will turn your skin green. Brass jewellery is the most common offender as, while an excellent choice for less expensive golden jewellery, the copper in its alloy can react with water and leave a green mark. To avoid this, we recommend removing brass rings before washing your hands and if the worst does happen, using makeup remover to lift the colour from your skin.
Gold vermeil platings are also vulnerable to water and soaps, which can result in the gold layer wearing more quickly and can tarnish the silver underneath the plating. Always remove gold vermeil plated jewellery before showering or washing your hands.
Can you wear gold vermeil plated jewellery in the shower?
While gold vermeil plated jewellery is generally more durable and resistant to tarnishing compared to standard gold plating, it is still advisable to avoid wearing it in the shower or exposing it to excessive moisture. Here's why:
Gold vermeil is a type of jewellery plating that involves a thick layer of gold (usually 10ct to 24ct) over a base of sterling silver. While this plating is more robust than traditional gold plating, it is not immune to the effects of moisture, chemicals, and constant wear. Here are some reasons to consider when deciding whether to wear gold vermeil jewellery in the shower:
Moisture: Exposing gold vermeil plated jewellery to water, including showering, can cause the protective layer of gold to gradually wear away over time. The moisture and soap residue can contribute to the deterioration of the gold plating and potentially cause it to peel or fade.
Chemicals: Many shower products, such as soaps, shampoos, and conditioners, contain chemicals that can react with the metal and the gold plating, leading to tarnishing or discolouration.
Heat and Steam: The heat and steam in a shower environment can accelerate the chemical reactions between the gold plating and the products used, potentially affecting the appearance and longevity of the jewellery.
Friction and Impact: The combination of water, soap, and friction from washing can cause the gold vermeil plating to wear down more quickly, leading to potential scratching, dullness, or loss of the gold layer.
To extend the life of your gold vermeil jewellery:
- Remove Before Showering: It's generally best to take off your gold vermeil jewellery before showering, swimming, or engaging in activities that involve moisture and potential exposure to chemicals.
- Avoid Contact with Moisture: Minimise exposure to water, lotions, perfumes, and other products that can affect the plating.
- Wipe Gently: If your jewellery does get wet, gently pat it dry with a soft cloth as soon as possible to minimise moisture exposure.
- Store Properly: Store your jewellery in a dry place, ideally in a jewellery box or pouch, to protect it from humidity and other environmental factors.
Remember that the lifespan of gold vermeil jewellery can vary based on factors such as the thickness of the gold layer, the quality of the plating, and how well you care for the jewellery. While gold vermeil is more durable than standard gold plating, it's still important to treat it with care to ensure its longevity and maintain its appearance.
Can you wear 9ct gold jewellery in the shower?
Wearing 9ct gold jewellery in the shower is generally safe, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
Moisture and Soap: While 9ct gold is relatively resilient, exposure to soap, shampoo, and other shower products can still impact the 9ct gold jewellery's appearance over time. These products might leave residues or interact with the metal, potentially affecting its shine and lustre.
Cleaning: Regular cleaning of your 9ct gold jewellery is recommended to maintain its appearance. If you wear it in the shower, make sure to clean it periodically using a mild soap and warm water. Gently scrub with a soft brush, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry with a soft cloth.
Friction and Impact: While showering itself might not cause significant damage, remember that vigorous rubbing, scrubbing, or using abrasive materials on the 9ct jewellery can lead to scratching and wear, especially if the piece contains gemstones or delicate details.
Longevity: Over time, even durable alloys like 9ct gold can be affected by constant exposure to moisture and other environmental factors. To prolong the life of your jewellery, it's best to remove it before activities involving excessive moisture or chemicals.
Ultimately, the decision to wear 9ct gold jewelry in the shower depends on your personal preferences and the specific care you give to your jewellery. If you do choose to wear it in the shower, make sure to clean and dry it properly afterward. If you want to err on the side of caution and ensure the longest possible lifespan for your jewellery, it's a good practice to remove it before showering, swimming, or engaging in any activities that could expose it to excessive moisture and products.
Will brass jewellery turn your skin green?
Brass jewellery can sometimes turn your skin green and this is a relatively common occurrence. The greenish tint on the skin is primarily due to a chemical reaction between the copper content in brass and the natural oils and acids present on your skin.
Brass is an alloy made primarily of copper and zinc, with copper being the main component. When brass comes into contact with the moisture, oils, and acids on your skin, it can cause a reaction that results in the formation of copper salts. These copper salts can transfer to your skin, causing the greenish discolouration.
The extent to which brass jewellery will turn your skin green can vary based on factors like the composition of the alloy, your individual body chemistry, the acidity of your skin, and how often you wear the brass jewellery. Some people might experience this discolouration more than others.
Remember that everyone's skin is different, so while some individuals might experience significant green discolouration from brass jewellery, others might not experience it at all. If you're particularly sensitive to this issue, you might want to consider alternative materials for your jewellery, such as sterling silver or gold, which are less likely to cause skin discolouration.
Wearing jewellery when applying creams and perfume
We've all done it: whipped our hand cream from our bag and applied it over our rings, or spritzed perfume on our neckline and over a pendant and earrings before leaving the house. While a seemingly innocent act that doesn't appear to have an impact on our jewellery, allowing the chemicals in these products to sit on our gold necklaces, earrings, and rings can cause them the most harm.
The solution is simple. Apply your potions and lotions before putting on your jewellery, and if you're out and about or otherwise in a situation where it might not be possible to remove your pieces, apply a product, and then put the jewellery back on, consider a fortnightly cleaning routine for your jewels. This will mean less gunk in gemstone settings from creams and will remove that sticky layer from golden surfaces that reduces their shine and damages gold platings.
Does perfume damage gold jewellery?
Perfume can potentially damage gold jewellery, especially if it contains chemicals or substances that react with the metal. The extent of the damage will depend on factors such as the quality of the gold, the composition of the perfume, and how often the perfume comes into contact with the jewellery. Here are some considerations:
Chemical Reactions: Perfumes often contain alcohol and various chemical compounds, some of which can react with the metal components of gold jewellery. This reaction can lead to tarnishing, discolouration, or even surface damage over time.
Plating and Coatings: If the gold jewellery has a plating or coating, such as gold vermeil or gold-filled, the chemicals in perfume can potentially wear away the thin layer of gold, exposing the base metal underneath.
Quality of Gold: Pure gold (24 karat) is relatively inert and less prone to reacting with chemicals. However, most gold jewellery is not made from pure gold due to its softness. Alloys are added to enhance durability, but these alloys can be susceptible to reactions with certain substances.
To minimise potential damage to your gold jewellery from perfume we recommend:
- Applying perfume before putting on your jewellery. Allowing the perfume to dry before wearing your gold jewellery can reduce direct contact between the chemicals and the metal.
- Avoiding spraying perfume directly onto your gold jewellery.
- If you notice any discolouration or changes in the appearance of your gold jewellery, cleaning it gently with a mild soap and water solution, and dry it thoroughly.
- Removing your gold jewellery before contact with perfumes, lotions, and other chemicals.
- Storing your gold jewellery in a soft pouch or jewellery box to prevent scratching and reduce exposure to outside elements.
It's important to note that while perfume can potentially affect gold jewellery, not all perfumes will have the same impact. Some perfumes may be more reactive than others due to their specific chemical compositions. If you want to wear both perfume and gold jewellery, it's a good idea to be cautious and take steps to minimise any potential damage.
Wearing jewellery when washing your hair
When you wash your hair, shampoo and conditioner gets caught in the ridges of jewellery designs, the butterfly, and inside gemstone settings. Over time, this can build up and stop gemstones from sparkling and damage designs and surfaces. We recommend removing earrings in particular before washing your hair because as well as the damage from hair products, there's also a chance that they can fall out and get lost down the drain.
Prolonged exposure to water can impact brass jewellery in particular, not only potentially leaving your skin green, but also damaging the structural integrity of brass alloys and making the metal more likely to break if dropped or subjected to impact. Similarly, gold vermeil platings can be damaged and worn away when wet, which shortens their lifespan significantly.
To conclude: always put on your gold jewellery as the last step in your getting ready routine. Shower, do your hair, apply your perfume and makeup, then finally put on your gold rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets.