Does gold-plated sterling silver tarnish?

Does gold-plated sterling silver tarnish?

Sterling silver-plated gold-plated jewelry is in high demand. Celebrities and fashion lovers love it. Because sterling silver retains its shine and gilding for longer, it is an excellent choice for -plated jewelry.

The color of this type of jewelry can change over time. However, there are several ways to slow that process down. This jewelry can be enjoyed for its uniqueness and ease, as well as boosting your energy and beauty. Let’s now see if sterling silver with gold plating tarnishes.

Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is an alloy of silver that contains:

  • Pure silver – 92.5%
  • 7.5% Other metals, mainly copper

This metal is strong enough to be used as jewelry because it contains 7.5% allay. Sterling silver is therefore the best option. It is a durable, shiny precious metal that lasts longer than gold.

Silver type
Features 925 silver Silver-plated Silver-filled
Precious metal yes no no
Long-lasting 5 of 5 1 of 5 3 of 5
Affordability $$$ $ $$
Maintenance Medium Low Low
Additional costs Polishing cloth ($) Re-plating ($$) n/a

Gold-plated jewelry is fashionable because it’s expensive and people don’t like the look of silver. This is an electrochemical process that adds a gold layer to sterling silver.

Jewelers often add a thin layer of nickel to strengthen the bond between precious metals. This jewelry can tarnish easily during everyday activities.

There are many types of gold-plated jewelry, but silver is the most beautiful, cost-effective, and prettiest. Rings are the most wearable.

Sterling Silver with Gold Plate

Sterling silver with gold coating is the most sought-after type of gold-plated jewelry. This is also known as vermeil. However, this only indicates that the base metal is high-quality silver, plated with 14K, 18K or 22K or 24K white or yellow gold.

These beautiful, high-end pieces made from bright gold are less expensive than those made of it. It is often a more uneven color than gold jewelry.

To be considered genuine vermeil in the USA, this piece of jewelry must meet certain qualifications. It is usually made by an chemical process known as electroplating. The minimum 10K-quality and 2.5 microns thickness of used gold are required.

You can usually identify sterling silver with gold plating 925 Sterling Silver in most cases. However, additional marks can be found:

  • GEP Gold electroplated
  • – Gold plated
  • HGP Heavy gold plating
  • HGE Heavy gold electroplated

There is no set rule regarding the stamping of gold-plated jewelry. Many pieces can be found without hallmarks.


Pure 99.9% pure silver does not change in color. However, sterling silver will tarnish with time due to the metal it is mixed. When exposed to oxygen and skin oils, it can turn dark grey, brown or black.

It is a rule of thumb that jewelry with the highest amount of silver will tarnish faster than jewelry with low purity. However, this cannot be avoided.

You can slow the process with regular care, or have sterling silver jewelry professionally polished from time-to-time. However, silver-plated jewelry can’t be stopped from tarnishing.

Sterling silver with gold plating will have a change in color if the gold layer rubs against the base metal. It will usually stay unchanged for two years in most cases.

You will begin to notice flaking and the first signs that your jewelry is gold-plated will start to fade. You will notice darker spots on jewelry, especially rings, once silver has been discovered underneath.

How to Prevent Tarnishing

How to Prevent Tarnishing

  1. After finishing your preparations for the night, such as applying make-up and perfume, you should put on sterling silver jewelry made of gold-plated sterling. You should also take it off before going to bed.
  2. To protect your jewelry from soap and shampoo, never take a shower prior to taking off your jewelry. Avoid using tissue or paper towels to clean gold-plated silver jewelry. They can scratch it and accelerate tarnishing.
  3. You don’t have to wear silver-plated rings when doing housework, as chemicals can adversely affect them.
  4. Your environment can have a significant impact on your jewelry, believe it or not. Hot weather can cause sweating and cause tarnish to your silver-plated gold. Your jewelry will also tarnish more quickly in polluted environments due to the high levels of sulfur in the air.
  5. Although sterling silver jewelry can be worn regularly, it will begin to tarnish faster if it is not used daily. When not in use, it is important to store your jewelry in a jewelry box or dust bag. Keep silver-plated and gold-plated jewelry separate.
  6. This jewelry should not be sprayed with perfume. Always apply it after your skin has absorbed the cream or lotion. Clean it regularly with soft cloths to remove any body oils or sweat that may have accumulated over the course of the day.

Tarnishing Types

There are three types of tarnishing depending on what jewelry you own.

  • Jewelry that is prone to tarnish – Jewelries made from base metals such as copper, bronze, or brass will darken quickly. You can expect sterling silver to oxidize over time.
  • Gold jewelry made from a gold alloy– Your gold jewelry will not change in color, except for some discoloration that is mostly found in antique pieces.
  • Plated jewelry In this case, the plating may come off and your jewelry will tarnish from oxidation. While gold will not tarnish but gold-plated jewelry can change in color due to the fact that silver, the base metal, will oxidize.

There are many reasons to tarnishe

Your Body

Body chemistry is a key factor in jewelry tarnishing. Fast jewelry discoloration can be caused by a too acidic body.

Low pH can be caused by the foods you eat, your medications, your sweating levels and the gas that you produce. Hormonal imbalance is another factor.


Sterling silver corrosion happens when the metal comes in contact with household chemicals. You should avoid jewelry coming into contact with household products and toiletries.

Perfume and Lotions

Because these chemicals adversely affect the thin gold coating, body care products can tarnish your silver-plated jewelry.


Premature tarnish can occur if you wear sterling silver with gold plating. The same problem will occur when you exercise or do dishes while wearing your jewelry.

Ways to Clean Tarnished Jewelry

Remember that not all jewelry types have the exact same cleaning methods. You should take care not to damage your piece.

  • Polishing– This is a great option for jewelry made from gold, sterling silver and brass.
  • Replating is necessary for cleaning silver jewelry that has been gold-plated. It is impossible to restore the color of your jewelry. The only solution is to apply a new coating.

For the following reasons, it is not recommended that you clean tarnished silver-plated jewelry at home:

  • Many chemicals that you will find on the marketplace are too harsh.
  • All substances that contain chlorine or bleach can destroy the gold layer
  • Toothpaste is a popular choice for this purpose. However, it can scratch the surface of the gold while trying to remove the tarnish.
  • Polishing cloths can be gentle, but not effective. They don’t remove deep dents and they won’t restore plated jewelry.
  • Water can loosen glued stones, causing them to fall out.

It is best to wash your 18K vermeil with water and non-chemical soap. After washing it, dry it with a towel or paper towel.

Use a jewelry cloth, or a non-abrasive, to gently rub the surface. Avoid using a silver cloth as it can quickly strip the gold plating. You should keep your jewelry safe in a jewelry box or bag that is airtight.

Pros and cons of gold-plated silver jewelry


  • This type of jewelry is more affordable than the one made from solid gold. You can find great pieces starting at $5 to $50
  • It looks beautiful and is as precious as real gold
  • You can choose among various designs
  • This jewelry is sturdy and long-lasting.


  • Jewelry made of gold-plated silver will tarnish with time
  • It can be scratched and damaged.
  • This type of jewelry is not a good investment because it contains low-quality silver and very little gold.


The trendiest and most affordable gold-plated sterling silver jewelry today is the one with the gold plating. It will eventually tarnish, so you’ll need to re-plate it every two years.

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