Taking Care of Your Sterling Silver Jewelry

Gold-plated Sterling Silver Jewelry - Treat It Like a Luxury Car!

Your gold-plated sterling silver jewelry is like a luxury vehicle - it gleams when it's shiny and new, but requires proper care and maintenance to keep it looking its absolute best. Just like a high-end vehicle, gold vermeil deserves special treatment to maintain that luxurious gold finish for years to come.

With proper care, your gold-plated sterling silver jewelry can last much longer while retaining its beautiful golden sheen. Think of it as getting a car detail - regularly cleaning and polishing keeps the paint glossy and the metal sparkling. In this blog post, we’ll go over the do's and don'ts of caring for your gold-plated sterling silver, along with tips to keep your jewelry looking brand new.

The Gold Plating Process

Before we get into care, let’s look at what exactly gold vermeil is. Gold-plated sterling silver, also known as gold vermeil, consists of a thick layer of gold electroplated onto a sterling silver base. This gives the look and feel of solid gold for a fraction of the price. The gold layer is much thicker than regular gold plating, providing a vibrant finish and added protection.

The process starts with a sterling silver substrate that is polished to a smooth, flawless surface. It is then submerged in a solution containing dissolved gold. Electricity is run through the tank, causing the gold particles to adhere to the silver, slowly building up a layer of gold on the surface.

Gold vermeil is typically plated to 2.5 microns or 100 millionths of an inch. Compare this to flash plating which is often less than .1 microns. While not as durable as solid gold, proper care and maintenance of the thicker vermeil plating can give your jewelry a long, luxurious life.

Keep It Clean

Just like washing and waxing keeps a luxury car gleaming, regularly cleaning your gold vermeil keeps it looking its absolute best. Cleaning removes dirt, oil, lotions, and other buildup that can dull the finish over time. Make cleaning your gold-plated pieces part of your regular jewelry care routine.
Follow these tips for keeping your gold vermeil sparkling:

  • Use a jewelry polishing cloth - Gently rub your gold-plated jewelry to bring back the shine.
  • Clean with mild dish soap and water - Mix a few drops of liquid dish soap into warm water. Use a soft bristle toothbrush to gently scrub jewelry in the solution. Rinse thoroughly in clean water and pat dry with a soft lint-free cloth.
  • Avoid harsh jewelry cleaners - Store-bought jewelry cleaners and ultrasonic cleaners often contain strong chemicals that can strip gold plating. Stick to gentle cleaning methods.
  • Clean regularly - Don't let dirt build up. Regularly remove grime before it accumulates and becomes more difficult to remove.
  • Dry thoroughly after cleaning - Remaining moisture can tarnish silver over time.

Avoid Wear and Tear

Gold plating can slowly erode from daily wear and abrasion. Just like a luxury car's leather interior can wear over time, gold vermeil finishes can breakdown from excessive handling. Minimize wear by:

  • Removing rings, bracelets, and necklaces before physical activities, exercising, showering, cleaning, and applying lotions. Friction from movement can rub away plating.
  • Storing pieces separately to avoid scratching. Place in a fabric lined jewelry box or soft pouch.
  • Avoiding contact with chlorine, saltwater, hair products like sprays and gels, and perfume which can interact with gold plating.
  • Using care when stacking and layering gold vermeil jewelry to prevent scratching. The crisp edges of sterling silver can damage soft karat gold.
  • Taking rings off before hand washing and other wet work. Water exposure can degrade plating over time.

Your gold-plated pieces will last significantly longer when handled gently and limit exposure to abrasion. Be aware of activities that can rub off the gold finish prematurely.

Proper Storage

Much like parking your luxury car in the garage away from the elements, safely storing gold vermeil keeps it protected and slows wear when not being worn. Follow these storage tips:

  • Keep pieces in a fabric-lined jewelry box, soft zippered pouch, or anti-tarnish bag when not worn.
  • Use jewelry dividers, compartments, or individual pouches to separate necklaces, bracelets, and rings. This prevents scratching and tangling.
  • For chains and bracelets, wrap lengths in a soft cloth or place in a divided slot. Coiling can cause kinks.
  • Place cotton, linen, or foam in rings to maintain shape and protect finishes from abrasion.
  • Store jewelry away from direct sunlight and humidity which can cause damage over time.

Proper at-home storage in-between wear keeps your gold vermeil jewelry looking pristine for longer.

Professional Care

Periodically have your gold-plated sterling silver professionally serviced by a jeweler. A jeweler can:

  • Clean difficult dirt and tarnish using steam or ultrasonic cleaners. Professionals have commercial grade equipment.
  • Re-plate worn areas. Spot plating reapplies a thin layer of gold to damaged spots. Overall re-plating can renew the entire piece, extending its lifespan.
  • Repair damage like reshaping misshapen rings, replacing worn prong tips, re-stringing necklaces, and resizing bands.
  • Inspect jewelry for safety - checking clasps, no loose stones, structural issues.

See a jeweler once a year or when excessive wear is noticed. Regular professional maintenance will prolong the life of your gold vermeil. Please note thought that if you choose to utilize third-party jewelers, it will void your warranty.

    Caring for your gold-plated sterling silver may take a little extra time but is worthwhile. Follow these do's and don'ts and your pieces will maintain their luxurious gold finish for decades, becoming family heirlooms. With proper care, your gold vermeil can be passed down. Treat your gold-plated sterling silver jewelry well and it will remain a treasured investment. Lustrous, lasting gold vermeil starts with attention and care.

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