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Gold can develop a build up of film from oils on the skin, lotions, powders, soaps, perfume and other products. This may leave the jewelry looking dull. In addition, chemicals in the air can cause the gold to become slightly oxidized (depending on the karat). Proper cleaning and care of your gold chain will keep it sparkling and strong for many years.

Hand Washing

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Cleaning a gold chain is rather simple, because no care in regard to jewels and gemstones must be taken. Start by putting the gold jewelry into warm water and adding a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid ( Ivory, Dawn or Joy, for example). Rub the chain with your fingers. To thoroughly clean, use a soft brush such as a gentle toothbrush. Brush lightly to avoid scratching the piece. Do not, however, use toothpaste or baking soda, as they can be abrasive. Rinse your gold chain thoroughly with warm water and then dry with a soft cloth. Do not use paper towels or tissues to dry the chain, as they can contain particles of wood or leave lint behind.

Machine Cleaning

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If hand washing does not yield the desired results, a machine cleaning may be needed. Automatic cleaning equipment, such as ultrasonic cleaners, can be purchased at jewelry stores. These products typically come with a cleaning liquid that can be used with or without the machine. Other methods include steam cleaners and ionic cleaners, which can be purchased online (see Resources).


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Polishing the jewelry is the last step to the cleaning process and can be done with a soft, clean cloth. Using a straight rather than circular motion will help you avoid creating a visible pattern on the gold. After cleaning and polishing your gold chain, keep it in a fabric-lined jewel case or a separate box if you are not wearing it. This will ensure the piece does not get scratched or tangled with other jewelry. Be sure the gold is completely dry before storing, as tarnishing can occur with moisture.