Why Does Gold Sometimes Change Its Color?

Oxidized gold coins

Photographed by: Ken Potter

Gold is one of the most unreactive chemical compounds. Gold alone or unadulterated, pure gold doesn’t combine effectively with oxygen so it stays glossy, it doesn’t rust nor does it discolor, once more, that is only valid for unadulterated or 24K pure gold.

Normal reasons for discoloration:

Pure gold is too soft for jewelers, so pure gold is alloyed (mixed) and thus its standard fineness is obtained: 750 (18K), 585 (14K). The reason for the change in color of alloyed gold is usually the “meeting” of oxygen and sulfur (yes, yes, the substances in our air) with the moisture in the air. Therefore, during the wet season or during a summer vacation by the sea, the surfaces of gold jewelry can be covered with a light layer of oxide.

The habits and bodies of every one of us in life are also different, so some people’s jewelry can oxidize more easily. Alloyed (18K, 14K) jewelry can react with chemicals – perfumes, hairspray or wax, deodorants, creams, household cleaners (chlorine, various cleaners).

Thus, the surface of gold can oxidize (oxidation is the process we have described above, which, for example, darkens the surface of silver). Adequate protection is often just a sealed box or bag.

Another reason for the discoloration of the surface of the jewelry can be quite banal – foods with a high degree of corrosion (acidity, alkalinity), which form sulfur compounds. Here – a few examples that can alter or change the color: onions, pulp from organic products, added flavors, strongly salted products.

Metallic Abrasion:

To our surprise, the cosmetics or beauty care products we use can have solid metal particles. Yes, yes, especially the products of unnecessary, irresponsible manufacturers may contain traces of heavy metals: nickel, lead, cadmium, chromium, etc. – Ingredients are not always indicated. We are uploading an interesting link if you would like to know more: 

https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/potential-contaminants-cosmetics/fdas-testing-cosmetics-arsenic-cadmium-chromium-cobalt-lead-mercury-and-nickel-content

We write not for you to choose your cosmetics more carefully (which is also not a bad thing), but to let you know that gold can react to the heavy metals in skin care products. They can even affect softer gold (especially gold-plated jewelry). Surface abrasion – one of the reasons why YURGA chooses only massive, solid gold – we hardly gild any of our creations. After all, we have noticed many times how accessories covered with a thick layer of gold simply “rub off”, the gilding layer might disappear quite quickly, even 

though we did not polish the jewelry, we did not roughly scrub it.

You will realize that you are using a product that contains harder metals than gold or silver by noticing a spot on your body where the jewelry will come in contact with the metal-containing cosmetics. Yes, heavy metal creams, toners, etc. they work like sandpaper or polishing paste for gold and silver! To avoid this, let’s take a look at the composition of our body care products – so that they do not harm either us or the beauty of jewelry! Below is an application we found that we use to scan cosmetic and food composition labels to detect carcinogens and heavy metals in them. Maybe it will be interesting?

One of the applications for cosmetics and food scanning: Yuka

It can be found on both the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

Corrosion & Protection From It: A Caring Owner’s Eye:

Hairspray, perfume, sweat, urban street smog, and various synthetic compounds can also oxidize jewelry. Only, of course, these are not sudden processes – they take place gradually, gradually, coating the precious metals with a second “skin” – a layer of oxide. Pure gold itself does not oxidize, but additives used for its alloying (such as copper added to extract the delicate color of rose gold) can react with the environment. Heat, sweat, moisture accelerate reactivity.

Wide, large jewelry (such as a wide ring) is more in contact with abrasive surfaces or corrosive materials. After all, a ring or bracelet always “wears” more than e.g. earrings or pendants – textures, matte finish, ornaments will polish faster (especially – if the item is not gold, but only gilded). However, wide and large jewelry also has pluses – oxide will not form on items that are constantly “worn” and “polished into life and everyday life” – they will simply clean themselves from friction themselves.

We might even mention that if you work in places where there is a lot of heat and fire (such as in the kitchen, glass blowing studio, or in some jewelry workshops like us), it is better to remove luxury jewelry and gems, as such a work environment can affect jewelry in the long run. Like a very humid, special environment, like a pottery studio, or some kind of Maritime Museum…

If the oxide does not clean off of the jewelry at home – with soapy water, a special liquid or a cloth (as we write in the section on care), it is best to contact a jeweler. The jewelry can then be coated with a protective layer of rhodium, or simply cleaned and polished, polished in a professional way and means.

When not wearing or decorating yourselves with your jewels, keep them in a sealed box, wrapped in soft scrapers so that the jewelry does not touch or scratch each other. You can also put a small sachet of silica gel on the sides (you know, the one we get in new handbags, for example, to absorb moisture).

Somewhere we read that it was observed that 22K (999.9 fineness) items of pure gold were also darkening, but these are extremely strange and exceptional cases. Specialists can only guess which of the above stimuli affected them and under what circumstances, but that probably doesn’t mean the gold was fake.

In any case, our attention and care (and most of all, knowledge) is needed simply to make good and valuable jewelry and loved pieces last longer for us. That even our children and grandchildren would meet when the time came. To delight the eyes of those who gave them!

Maintaining/Guarding Your Gold Jewelry:

To safeguard the shine of your gold pieces of jewelry, stay away from abrasive chemicals that can be found in most homes, such as bleach and other cleaning items, which will rapidly make gold stain and conceivably break down on a physical level. Here at YURGA we have several suggestions to best preserve the shine and luster of your golden jewelry, here are our tips and tricks:

Store your gold adornments independently from one another. When storing your embellishments, please ensure that your pieces of gold jewelry don’t contact whatever other gemstones or metals when they’re being put away. Since gold is a delicate metal, it can without much of a stretch scratch or curve and bend out of its original shape on the off chance that it comes into contact with different bits of gemstones, metals and other pieces of jewelry. Also try to use a box with a velvety and soft internal coating, or a similar material that would be softer than the gold embellishments being stored in it.

  • On the off chance that you need more space than you currently have to store each piece independently, you could try enclosing each piece by a delicate material, such as wrapping them in a cloth or otherwise soft material. 
  • Hang up gold chains if it is possible in your case. This keeps them from getting tangled and causing scratches or deformation from the friction when attempting to unwind gold chains: doing so can break them, even without utilizing excessive force.

Eliminate your gold adornments from your body prior to showering, washing, or cleaning. By exposing your jewelry to cleanser and synthetics can dull the gold, requiring more regular cleaning sessions. It can likewise scratch or separate the gold, which is a delicate metal and it can be effortlessly harmed. Even some shampoos, body lotions and gels used for personal hygiene could contain elements that might affect the gold, its structure, along with its coloration in a negative manner.

Please DO NOT WEAR any golden jewelry when getting into a swimming pool. Chlorine, as many other different synthetic chemicals, can forever stain and even damage gold. You should take your jewelry off prior to going into a hot tub or pool. Ecen the ambient humidity can have an effect on your embellishments: gold adornments can start to get residue and soil rapidly when kept in a muggy and humid climate. During a storm season one should utilize warm and softly soapy water (unless they have gemstones, if they do – DO NOT USE the soapy water bath) to clean gold adornments, as to forestall the further assembling of soil on their surface and crevices.

Buff your gold gems infrequently. Regardless of whether your gold adornments shouldn’t be cleaned, polishing it infrequently is a decent method to keep up and maintain its shine and lustre. Utilize a delicate cloth, such as chamois or otherwise delicate material and tenderly rub the outer layer of the piece. It can assist with reestablishing the sparkle of the adornments immediately, and reduce the requiry for any additional cleaning sessions.

Cleaning/Polishing Your Gold Jewelry At Home:

Mix a gentle dish cleanser in with warm water. A dish cleanser (or detergent – make sure it is mild/soft) is the most ideal alternative for cleaning the greater part of your gold adornments since it’s less rough than different cleaners that are normally found in anyone’s home. All you need to do is apply a couple of drops of fluid dish cleanser into a little bowl loaded with warm water and whirl the water to blend it. After a good soak, utilize your fingers or an extremely delicate material (such as a microfiber cloth) to focus on the soil and dirt that has developed. For more relentless grime, scour your gems with an exceptionally delicate fiber brush (if utilizing a toothbrush, ensure it is super or ultra soft) or a non abrasive cleanser specially dedicated for jewelry. You can likewise utilize rubbing alcohol to clean and disinfect your gems. Wash your embellishments with warm water and let dry.

  • You can leave your gems in the soapy water for as long as three hours. You can’t over-clean gold with this blend, so don’t stress over leaving it in excessively long. On the off chance that your adornments aren’t unreasonably messy, you can leave it in for ten to fifteen minutes.
  • If one of your pieces of jewelry has stones, don’t splash it into the soap solution. Instead of the soaking process, blend the cleaning combination and afterward dunk a delicate fabric into it. Then, at that point, utilize the material to painstakingly wipe down your adornments by scrubbing their surface softly.

Rub your gold jewelry one piece at a time. By only focusing on a single piece of jewelry, it’s easier for you to not scratch any of your other embellishments while you’re cleaning it.

Clean your adornments at regular intervals. Periodically, every few months please give all of your gold adornments a decent, profound clean. Allow your adornments to absorb the cleaning answer for three hours before you clean each piece. In the wake of eliminating soil and filth, you would now be able to clean your gems to eliminate scratches. You can utilize a gems cleaning fabric soaked with a cleaning and cleaning arrangement, which is accessible at most adornment stores. You ought to likewise take your gold adornments to an expert gem specialist for a more profound spotless, clean, and investigation every six months to a year.

  • Try not to over utilize this kind of cleaning measure on your golden jewelry, it should only be done a handful of times a year. Over cleaning gold adornments can make the metal separate, which can destroy your adornments.
  • Take your gold jewelry into a jeweler store to have it professionally cleaned and polished once per year. Here at YURGA we also offer such a service.
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