Gold plating is a popular option for those who want the luxurious look of gold without the high price tag. However, a common problem with gold plating is that it tends to darken over time, which can leave jewelry owners disappointed and wondering why this happens. In this article, we will explore the mystery of gold plated blackening and explain the reasons behind this phenomenon.
Before we get into the details of blackening gold plating, it's important to understand what gold plating actually is. Gold plating is a material that consists of a thin layer of gold deposited on a less precious metal base, usually brass or stainless steel. This layer of gold is made through an electroplating process which creates a bond between the gold and the base metal.
Gold plating offers the benefit of having a similar appearance to solid gold, but at a much lower cost. However, it also has its drawbacks, of which blackening is one of the most common.

The reasons for the blackening of gold plated
  • Chemical reaction with air and moisture : One of the main reasons for blackening of gold plated is the chemical reaction between gold and compounds present in air and moisture. Gold reacts with hydrogen sulfide and other substances in the environment, causing the gold plated to change color.

  • Reaction with chemicals : Contact of gold plated with chemicals such as perfumes, lotions, household cleaning products, etc., can also cause it to turn black. These chemicals can alter the gold layer on the plating, causing discoloration.

  • Gold Layer Erosion : Over time and regular use, the gold layer on the plating can erode, exposing the base metal. This exposure can cause discoloration and darkening of the plated jewelry.

  • Reaction with skin : Some people have skin chemistry that can accelerate the darkening process of gold plating. The natural acidity of the skin or the presence of chemicals on the skin can react with the gold, causing it to discolor.

How to Prevent Gold Plating from Darkening
Although darkening of gold plating is inevitable, there are some steps you can take to prevent it or at least slow it down. Here are some helpful tips:
  • Clean gold-plated jewelry regularly: To prevent blackening, it is important to clean your gold-plated jewelry regularly. Use a soft, non-abrasive cloth to gently wipe the surface of the jewelry to remove any impurities. Avoid using harsh chemicals that could damage the gold layer.

  • Avoid contact with corrosive substances: Avoid wearing your gold-plated jewelry when using corrosive chemicals such as cleaners, disinfectants or beauty products. These substances can react with gold and cause it to darken. It is best to remove your jewelry before using such products.

  • Store jewelry properly: When you're not wearing your gold-plated jewelry, make sure you store it properly. Use jewelry boxes lined with soft fabric to prevent rubbing and scratches. Also avoid storing them in damp locations or exposed to excessive humidity, as this can accelerate the darkening process.

  • Avoid prolonged contact with water: Water can accelerate the blackening process of gold plated. It is therefore recommended to avoid wearing your gold plated jewelry while swimming, showering or any other activity involving prolonged exposure to water. Additionally, dry your jewelry thoroughly after cleaning it or exposing it to water.

  • Have jewelry re-plated: If your gold-plated jewelry begins to show signs of severe blackening, you may want to consider having it re-plated. This process involves applying a new layer of gold to the jewelry to restore its original shine. It is best to entrust this task to a professional to achieve optimal results.

By following these tips, you can extend the life of your gold-plated jewelry and prevent blackening. However, it is important to note that gold plating is subject to wear and natural erosion over time. It is therefore normal to see signs of discoloration even with proper maintenance.

Conclusion :

Blackening of gold plated is a common phenomenon that can be caused by several factors, such as chemical reaction with air, chemicals, wear and exposure to skin. Although it's difficult to avoid it completely, by caring for your gold-plated jewelry and following proper precautions, you can slow down the darkening process and enjoy its shine for longer.


Q1: How do I know if my jewelry is gold plated or solid gold? A: To determine whether your jewelry is gold plated or solid gold, there are a few things you can consider. First, check if they have a hallmark or mark that indicates the gold content. Solid gold jewelry will usually have a hallmark like "18K" or "750" to indicate a gold content of 75%. On the other hand, gold-plated jewelry may not have a solid gold hallmark and may instead carry an indication such as "GP" (for Gold Plated) or "plated gold".

Q2: Does all gold plated jewelry turn black?
A: Yes, most gold plated jewelry tends to darken over time. However, the rate at which they darken can vary depending on several factors such as environment, maintenance, and skin chemistry.

Q3: Can I clean my gold plated jewelry with soap and water?
A: It is best to avoid cleaning your gold plated jewelry with soap and water, as this can speed up the darkening process. Instead, use a soft, non-abrasive cloth to gently wipe the surface of the jewelry.

Q4: How long does gold plating last on jewelry?
A: How long gold plating on jewelry lasts depends on various factors, including plating quality, wear and maintenance. In general, good quality gold plating can last for several years with proper care.

Q5: What should I do if my gold-plated jewelry turns black despite the precautions taken?
A: If your gold-plated jewelry turns black despite your precautions, you may want to consider having it re-plated by a professional. This involves applying a new layer of gold to the jewelry to restore its original shine.

Q6: Are there alternatives to gold plating to prevent blackening?
A: Yes, there are alternatives such as solid gold, sterling silver or stainless steel jewelry. These materials are less likely to darken, but they may have a higher cost than gold plating.

Remember to take care of your gold-plated jewelry and follow the care tips to minimize darkening and enjoy its shine for a long time.