• Home
  • Our Blog
  • Tarnish-Free Gold Jewelry – Materials, FAQs, and Maintenance

Tarnish-Free Gold Jewelry – Materials, FAQs, and Maintenance

tarnish free jewelry

Does every gold piece inevitably tarnish? No!

This guide will explore the causes of gold tarnishing, prevention methods, and the best tarnish-free gold jewelry options. But before we dive in, let’s take a quick look at some common types of gold jewelry. 

Common Gold Jewelry Types

Gold jewelry comes in different types, and being able to differentiate them can help you assess their quality and durability. Here are five common gold jewelry types:

  • Gold Plated on Brass/Silver Jewelry

Gold-plated jewelry is made by covering a base metal (brass or silver) with a thin layer of gold (0.05% pure gold or less). It requires plating a small quantity of gold on the base metal, making the jewelry quite affordable. However, the thin gold layer tends to wear off quickly due to constant use and exposure to sunlight or chemicals, which impacts the jewelry’s luster and shine.

gold plated on brass jewelry
  • Gold Vermeil Jewelry

Unlike gold-plated jewelry which involves bonding a thin layer of gold to the base metal, gold vermeil jewelry involves bonding a thicker layer of gold. The amount of applied gold differs depending on the country’s standard. For example, while the United States regulations require at least 2.5 microns of gold thickness, Canada requires only 1.0 microns.

gold vermeil jewelry

Gold vermeil is hypoallergenic, making it suitable for people with metal allergies to wear safely. And it doesn’t fade quickly since the gold plating is thicker.

  • Gold Filled Jewelry

Gold-filled jewelry is made by permanently binding a thick sheet of gold to a base metal (brass/copper). It contains almost 100 times more gold than gold-plated jewelry. The thick sheet of gold makes up at least 5% of the jewelry’s total weight, making it impossible to peel off easily.

Custom brass jewelry with silver & gold coating is a great alternative to gold-filled jewelry. They are tarnish-resistant and waterproof, making them great for everyday wear.

gold filled bracelet
  • Solid Gold Jewelry: from 9K gold to 24K gold

Solid gold jewelry is pure gold with no base metal. However, pure gold (24k) is too soft to shape into jewelry, so it is mixed with other metals to give it strength and durability. There are different karats of gold, ranging from 9K to 24K. The higher the karat, the higher the percentage of pure gold in the jewelry.

  • PVD Gold on Stainless Steel Jewelry

PVD gold on stainless steel jewelry is a tarnish-free gold jewelry created through the Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) process. PVD plating is a new technology that uses a vacuum to vaporize a thin layer of gold and bond it to stainless steel. This process creates a high-quality finish, making the piece more durable and resistant to wear and tear.

pvd stainless steel earrings

What Causes Gold Jewelry to Tarnish?

Gold jewelry can tarnish due to several factors, especially exposure to air, sweat, makeup, and other chemical elements. Here are five major factors that cause gold jewelry to tarnish:

  • Alloy metal

Most pieces of gold jewelry are an alloy; that is, they are mixed with other metals (nickel/copper/silver). While these metals provide strength and durability, they can tarnish when exposed to air, water, sweat, or harsh chemicals, resulting in a dull or discolored appearance.

  • Air

Oxygen plays a significant role in the tarnishing process of gold jewelry. For instance, exposing a gold vermeil jewelry piece to the air (humid or polluted environment) for a long time can lead to oxidation. This reaction causes changes in the chemical composition of the base, resulting in tarnish or rust. 

  • Water

Water in its pure form cannot cause tarnish, but when it contains elements like chlorine, it can cause tarnishing. For instance, if you don’t remove your gold jewelry before entering the pool, it will likely tarnish because of the high chlorine level in swimming pools.

  • Sweat

Human sweat contains acid and other harsh chemicals that cause tarnishing, especially if the piece is not regularly cleaned. If you sweat a lot, your gold jewelry is prone to tarnishing. 

  • Chemicals

House products, such as cleaning agents, detergents, perfumes, lotions, and cosmetics, can cause tarnishing. These items contain chemical substances that can cause gold jewelry (especially gold-plated) to tarnish when they come directly in contact with them.

What Does Tarnish-Free Gold Jewelry Mean?

Tarnish-free gold jewelry is defined by specific properties, such as anti-scratch, waterproof, sweat-resistant, sunscreen-resistant, and skincare-resistant. They are usually designed with high-quality gold alloys or treated with a protective coating to resist tarnishing and maintain their original appearance over time.

Non-tarnish gold jewelry is usually more expensive than traditional gold jewelry, but its longevity and ease of maintenance make it a cost-effective choice. Thankfully, there are many cheap non-tarnish gold jewelry options like the PVD gold plated jewelry, which is less expensive than solid gold.

What Gold Jewelry Doesn’t Tarnish Easily?

gold necklace

The three major types of gold jewelry that are tarnish-free are:

  • Solid Gold 14K & above

Solid gold (14K and above) is your best bet if you seek non-tarnish gold jewelry. Anything lower than 14K is usually at risk for tarnishing because of the more significant percentage of other metals (which are prone to tarnish.)

  • Gold filled

The thick layer of gold present in gold-filled jewelry makes it more durable and highly resistant to tarnishing. Gold-filled jewelry will last longer and maintain its shine if maintained properly.

  • PVD Gold Plated Jewelry

The vacuum process through which PVD gold-plated jewelry undergoes makes it highly tarnish-resistant. Since the gold is mechanically bonded to the base rather than plated, it can’t rub off, unlike gold-plated jewelry.

Tarnish-Free Gold Jewelry Explained:

We have explored the common types of gold jewelry. Now, let’s see which of them is tarnish-free and which is not.

Types of GoldTarnish-Free or not
Gold Plated JewelryProne to tarnishing when exposed to any kinds of liquids or chemicals; Will tarnish eventually
Gold Vermeil JewelryWill tarnish if left out to oxidize but it’s easy to clean
Gold Filled JewelryHighly Tarnish resistant
Solid Gold JewelryOnly 24K is 100% tarnish-resistant
PVD Gold JewelryHighly tarnish resistant

Is Gold-Plated Jewelry Tarnish-Free?

No, gold-plated jewelry is not completely tarnish-free. However, the speed and extent of tarnishing depend on the gold layer’s thickness and its exposure to air, water, and other chemicals.

Is Gold Vermeil Jewelry Tarnish-Free?

Yes, but only higher grades of gold vermeil jewelry are non-tarnishing. 14K and above is recommended.

What Gold Jewelry Can I Wear in The Pool?

Solid gold and gold-filled jewelry can be worn while swimming, however, they might discolor due to the chlorine in the pool. Above all, solid gold jewelry is the safest option for swimming.

What Gold Jewelry Can I Wear in The Shower?

Solid gold (14K and above), gold-filled jewelry, and PVD gold jewelry. They are waterproof and highly resistant to bathing solutions like shampoo, soap, etc. 

Best Tarnish-Free Gold Jewelry

tarnish free pendant

Generally, the best tarnish-free gold jewelry types are solid gold and gold-filled. Solid gold jewelry of high gold proportions (14K and above) is less prone to tarnishing due to the higher quantity of pure gold, retaining its beauty and allure over time. Additionally, Gold-filled jewelry is mechanically bonded to a base metal, making it highly resistant to chemicals and water, and less likely to tarnish.

Affordable Anti-Tarnish Gold Jewelry

We recommend PVD gold-plated stainless steel jewelry, which is a cost-effective option. PVD gold-plated stainless steel jewelry coating has a protective layer that prevents tarnishing and can be made to look like solid gold jewelry.

How to Prevent Jewelry From Tarnishing?

While gold jewelry can tarnish, there are ways to minimize this effect. Here’s how to prevent jewelry from tarnishing:

  • Minimize Contact with Water

Take off your gold jewelry before swimming, exercise, laundry, dishwashing, or other activities that can expose it to moisture. Also, dry your hands after washing to avoid sprinkling water on your jewelry.

  • Store Your Jewelry Properly

It may be tempting to display our jewelry, but it increases its chances of tarnishing. Keep your jewelry in a dry and dark place, preferably in jewelry boxes or airtight plastic bags, to prevent them from moisture and air.

  • Regular Cleaning with a Gentle Cloth

Regularly clean your jewelry with a soft, lint-free microfiber cloth or a jewelry polishing cloth to remove dirt, sweat, and oil that can cause tarnishing.

  • Avoid Chemicals

Be mindful of perfume, lotions, cosmetics, and other chemical substances that can cause tarnishing. Also, don’t clean your jewelry with harmful chemicals. Consider contacting a custom jewelry manufacturer for a waterproof and anti-tarnish solution to preserve your gold for a long time.

Key Takeaway

Tarnish-free gold jewelry is a wise investment for jewelry lovers who want to experience the luster and brilliance of gold for a long time. Solid gold and gold-filled are the best tarnish-free gold jewelry types. Contact us today to get your pieces that continue to sparkle and dazzle for years.

Share the Post:

Related Posts

Sample the Goods

If you’re curious what our jewelry look like up close and personal, order a pre-printed Zearrow Sample Kit to see our current material and print quality options..

Request A Quote

Have a jewelry design idea or some questions?  Get in touch with a member of our team who can bring your ideas to reality.

    Your Name*

    Your Email*

    Your Phone

    Your Company

    Your message*

    Your File

    We value your privacy

    We use cookies to enhance your browsing experience,serve personalized ads or content, and analyze ourtraffic. By clicking “Accept”, you consent to our use of cookies.