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How to Polish Gold for a Like-New Shine

Cleaning gold and silver jewelry.
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Like everything else, you might find your gold getting a little dirty or faded over time.

Although gold is not necessarily going to tarnish, it can lose its shine due to any number of reasons. Wedding bands can get especially dirty because many people wear them every day, even when they work with their hands. It can be a little tough to clean gold, but all you need is some knowledge and a lot of practice. You’ll have your gold jewelry shining like new before you know it!

Ring Repairing & Polishing

While getting your gold polished by a jeweler is great, it does have some drawbacks.


How Jewelry Polishing Works 

Many people take their gold jewelry to a retailer or an actual jewelry store to have it polished. If you decide to go this route, you should have your gold jewelry polished no more than once or twice a year. Many jewelers use an abrasive material to smoothen the surface of your jewelry.

Usually, this is done with a machine that has a rotating polishing wheel. Although this will definitely make your jewelry look better, a microscopic layer of metal is removed from the piece to even up the surface. This is one of the major drawbacks of getting your jewelry cleaned professionally. 

The Problem with Polishing 

The biggest thing about polishing is that it basically works by wearing down your gold jewelry a little more every time. The amount of metal removed in the process is very small, so one polishing session will not do much damage. However, after your jewelry has been polished a number of times, the effects start to accumulate and the structure of your piece of gold jewelry is weakened. 

When it comes to rings, the setting is the area that is most affected by polishing, since it is made up of small parts that are often very thin. For example, with a prong setting, the prongs themselves will get thinner and shorter every time you have your ring polished.

This will happen to the other parts of your setting as well, and after some time, the construction of the ring will become progressively weaker. As the setting of your ring gets worn out, the gemstones that it holds can also become loose. This puts them at a greater risk of falling out of your ring.

Of course, none of this means that you should never have your gold jewelry polished. By all means, you might want to take it to the jeweler once or twice a year to keep your gold looking amazing. You just shouldn’t do it more often than that, which is actually a good thing, because it will save you some money on unnecessary cleaning fees. So let’s take a look at this issue a little more closely.

How Often Should I Have My Jewelry Polished? 

As stated above, polishing your jewelry every few months is actually a bad idea. You should do your jewelry cleaning no more than once or twice a year at the jewelry store. Unfortunately, your gold jewelry (especially gold rings) will always show a few more scratches than you might like, especially because gold is a soft metal like silver.

If you are going to want a ring that is going to last longer, you may decide to get one made of a more durable precious metal like platinum. Platinum can also scratch but at a much slower pace than gold, and even when it does, it does not lose as much of the material, so it isn’t as bad to polish out scratches in any of your platinum jewelry.

Gold Chains with No Settings or Stones

The good news is that you usually don’t have to worry about any settings or stones when you are dealing with larger items such as gold chains. You should be able to slide any pendants or other adornments right off the chain, so that is one less thing you need to worry about while you are cleaning it.

You should start by soaking the chain in a basin of warm water with a little baking soda or dishwashing soap. Use a clean and new soft-bristled toothbrush to clean in between all of the crevices of the chain. After you have scrubbed it for a few minutes with the soft toothbrush, rinse the chain well in warm running water and then dry it with a soft jeweler’s cloth.

Never use paper products, like paper towels, to dry off any of your gold, because they can often cause even more scratches. You can polish gold products at home with a variety of products that we will discuss later in this article. For larger items such as gold chains, however, it will probably be easiest to use a jewelry polishing cloth.

These types of materials are usually pre-treated with a small amount of polish. If you rub the chain up and down with the cloth, it will soon look shiny and almost like new again. If you still can’t seem to get the chain clean enough for your liking, you can ask a jeweler to clean it for you with a special machine.

The most common type is the ultrasonic cleaning machine, which uses sound wave vibrations. There are other types of cleaning machines, like steam or ion machines, but most jewelers will usually have an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner available. 

If you would like to clean your gold jewelry quite often with a machine like this, you might decide to buy or even sometimes rent one. Be sure to follow all the instructions that are provided if you do decide to use one of these special cleaning machines on your own at home.

Be especially careful if your gold chain is gold plated instead of pure gold, because these types of chains can be especially prone to deep scratches.

Other Kinds of Gold Jewelry 

When you are deciding to purchase gold jewelry, there are a wide variety of options you can choose from. Gold jewelry comes in a variety of different colors and it isn’t always completely pure gold. Gold is an alloy, so it is usually a combination of gold along with one or more metals like zinc, silver, copper, nickel, or palladium. The most common colors of gold jewelry are yellow, rose, white, and green gold. 

Gold Variety: Yellow Gold 

Yellow gold is a type of gold that results from combining pure gold with copper, silver, or zinc. This type of gold is regarded as the purest color (and the most valuable) in the world of jewelry. It is also hypoallergenic and it is the type of gold that requires the least amount of cleaning and maintenance. 

Gold Variety: White Gold 

White gold is the result of a combination of platinum and gold. In some cases, palladium can be used instead of platinum and it can also be made from a combination of palladium, gold, zinc, and nickel. White gold is more scratch-resistant and durable than yellow gold. It is also a bit cheaper than platinum and yellow gold. 

Gold Variety: Rose Gold 

Rose gold (which is also sometimes called pink gold) is an alloy of silver, gold, and copper. It gets its rose color from the copper. This makes it a lot more affordable than many of the other variants. You will find it to also be more durable and long-lasting than white or yellow gold. 

Gold Variety: Green Gold 

Green gold (also known as Electrum) is an alloy that is made out of silver, gold, and copper. The silver is responsible for giving this alloy a slightly green color, especially when it is reflected in the light. This is not such a common variety, but you may find yourself owning some green gold at some point in your life.

There was a time when yellow gold was by far the most desirable option for most people. However, when the price of gold kept rising out of reach, more people began to choose white gold more regularly. White gold has been the preferred choice out of all the varieties, especially when it comes to wedding rings or engagement rings.

Jeweller hand polishing and cleaning jewelry diamond ring with micro fiber fabric

With some care, you can polish your gold at home to make it look professionally polished!

More About Polishing Your Gold 

Solid gold is a soft metal that needs regular maintenance. If you are careful and diligent, you can restore a lot of the shine and luster of most of your precious gold jewelry. The following techniques will explain how you can get started right away with a basic gold polishing routine. This will remove some of the visible scratches and help protect your solid gold for many years to come.

Method 1: Follow This Routine for Cleaning Gold at Home

  • Cleaning Step 1: Take a bowl and fill it with hot water. Add a small amount of baking soda and dish soap. Place the gold in the water. Let it rest for a few minutes. 
  • Cleaning Step 2: Use a toothbrush with soft bristles to scrub the gold. Smaller toothbrushes are usually best suited for this. Scrub the gold gently. There is no need to apply much pressure. Be sure to scrub the crevices if there are any.
  • Cleaning Step 3:  Start rinsing the gold. After scrubbing, run the gold under warm water. Make sure that all of the cleaning solution has been washed away. Carefully examine the gold to see if there is any residue left. 
  • Cleaning Step 4: Use a cloth to wipe the gold dry. Be careful that you use a soft cloth for drying the gold off. Avoid using paper towels or products because they can leave scratches on the gold. You can also just let the gold dry on its own. 
  • Cleaning Step 5: Finally, wipe the gold with a jeweler’s cloth. Wipe the surface gently along with any remaining debris. When there isn’t any left, wipe the gold a few more times to increase the amount of shine.
  • Method 2: Follow This Routine to Remove Scratches from Your Gold
  • Cleaning Step 1: Begin by taking a bowl of hot water and adding a slight amount of dish soap. Take a clean, soft dishcloth and dip it into the mixture. Rub the surface of the gold gently. Then wash the article with water and let it air dry.
  • Cleaning Step 2: Mix ammonia and water in a bowl. The mixture should be six parts of water and one-part ammonia. Be sure to wear heavy-duty gloves while you are handling the ammonia. 
  • Cleaning Step 3: Carefully immerse the gold in the mixture so that it is completely covered. Let it stay under the water for about a minute, but not for much longer than that to prevent damage. 
  • Cleaning Step 4: Use a tissue to wipe the gold. Take the gold out of the mixture and examine it to see if there are any remaining scratches. You can either dry the gold using a tissue or you can let it dry in the air. Repeat this procedure as many times as you like.

Method 2: Follow This Routine to Protect Your Gold

Always try to avoid wearing any of your gold during any type of strenuous activity. Sweat can damage your gold jewelry because it is acidic. If you can’t remove any of your gold jewelry while you are doing a certain activity, always be sure to wipe off the gold with a soft cloth after you have finished.

Avoid using any type of lotion while you are wearing gold. Lotions in general are cosmetic fluids that can definitely damage your gold. You can also prevent your gold jewelry from getting dirty as quickly by removing it before swimming, showering, applying lotion, or getting very dirty. Perfume and hairspray are a few of the other types of cosmetics that can also damage gold.

Be very careful in your movements if you are wearing gold. Don’t let the gold you are wearing bump into other things that can scratch and damage it. Limit the extent to which you wear gold to reduce the amount of grime.

One of the simplest things you can do with scratched gold is to spray it with a cleaning solution like WD-40. Let the WD-40 settle for about five minutes and then rinse your gold jewelry with clean water, and you will definitely see some impressive results.

If All Else Fails

It is always a good final solution to take your gold to your jeweler who can use an abrasive scrubber to scrape off the top layer of gold and make it really shine again. This should only be done as a last resort because it will certainly remove some of the gold.

Try to take regular good care of your jewelry as well as you can by storing it with ample space in a jewelry box when you are not wearing it, and then you won’t need to go and get your gold sanded down every few years.

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All articles are provided as a third party analysis and do not necessarily reflect the explicit views of GSI Exchange and should not be construed as financial advice.

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