Jewelry made of pure gold doesn't tarnish because it doesn't corrode or oxidize, but gold pieces made with an alloy such as copper or silver may tarnish and turn black. Gold jewelry can also darken when it's frequently exposed to soap, lotion and everyday grime. Clean gold jewelry carefully; rough handling or harsh, abrasive cleansers can do more harm than good. With proper care, gold jewelry retains its shine and beauty for many years.
Jewelry Without Stone Settings
Mix a weak solution consisting of 6 parts ammonia and 1 part warm water in a small cup or bowl.
Dip the jewelry into the mixture, and then scrub it gently with a soft toothbrush or a cotton swab.
Rinse the jewelry thoroughly with warm water to be sure the ammonia is completely removed.
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Dry the piece carefully with a soft cloth, and then lay it on a dry towel. Let it air dry overnight. Don't place the jewelry on a paper towel; paper may scratch the jewelry.
Buff the jewelry with a clean, soft cloth or a jeweler's polishing cloth.
Jewelry With Settings
Combine 6 parts warm water with 1 part household ammonia. Don't soak jewelry if it has a gemstone setting, because the water may loosen the stone.
Dip a soft cloth in the warm solution and wipe the jewelry carefully to remove residue and tarnish.
Dip a clean cloth in a bowl of warm water and wipe the jewelry well to remove the ammonia.
Dry the jewelry gently with a soft cloth. Lay it on a dry towel with the stone facing down so the water drains out of the setting. Allow the jewelry to dry overnight.
Buff the gold jewelry with a piece of jeweler's cloth or a soft, clean cloth.
Too much exposure to ammonia can harm gold. Always use a weak solution, and never let jewelry soak in the ammonia solution for more than a minute.
Store gold jewelry in a soft bag or a jewelry box in a dark, dry location.
M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.