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5 Reasons Why Gold Jewelry Turns Black

Gold Jewelry Turns Black

Gold jewelry can elevate any look, whether trying to achieve a chic office look or getting ready for a party. However, over time gold jewelry loses its color and shine. It is pretty disheartening to see your favorite necklace go black. Well, you need not worry.

This article covers the top five reasons why gold turns black. Once you know the causes, you can take preventive measures to maintain the shine of your gold accessories. Furthermore, we will also share tips on how you can bring back the luster of your gold that has already tarnished.

Why does my gold jewelry turn black? 

If we consider the properties of gold, it is a tarnish-resistant metal, which means it will never get spoiled or turn black, as it usually does.

It also shows low reactivity, which means the metal (gold) does not react when dipped into water, acid, or other compounds.

When other metals like aluminum, iron, etc., come in contact with water, they lose electrons to oxygen and become positive ions forming a metal oxide. You can see a layer of oxide on the surface of these metals, which is metal oxidation. However, gold is supposed to stay unharmed because it does not react with elements in the air or water. If this is true, then why is there a black tarnish on your gold jewelry?

Is your jewelry fake? Unfortunately, that can be one of the reasons. But this is where quality stamps play a role. Hallmark is a stamp on the gold jewelry, which indicates that the gold is genuine. You can also find a stamp that indicates the gold carat. 

Hallmarks are not mandatory in the United States. When buying gold ornaments, people usually look for a marker’s mark if a hallmark is unavailable, along with the gold carat. 

Indeed, if you buy jewelry from reputed jewelers, you can expect to receive an authentic gold piece. 

But your jewelry can go black despite buying jewelry from a reputed brand. It is unfortunate but true. Here are five reasons why real gold jewelry goes black. 

Here are five reasons why real gold jewelry goes black.

Gold Jewelry Goes Black


The biggest reason gold jewelry turns black is that gold jewelry is not entirely made of gold. Wait, hear me out.

24K gold is the only pure gold. But gold in this form is very soft and cannot be shaped to the required size and design. Hence all jewelers use a mixture of gold and some other metal like copper, silver, etc. These mixtures are called gold alloys. 

22K gold is the highest grade gold you can find in a piece of jewelry. It will retain its luster and color for a long time, but if proper care is not taken, it is expected to corrode because of the few percentages of another metal. Lower-carat gold has more metal than gold, and hence it decolorizes faster.

Metal ions in gold alloy react with oxygen in the air or water. This reaction happens with 22K gold jewelry and leads to gold discoloration. 

Gold plating process

Plated jewelry is made from some other material and is then covered with gold. These are less expensive but also corrode faster and are subject to turning black sooner than jewelry made with gold alloy. Sometimes the plating process lacks precision, and areas where gold plating wasn’t adequately done start losing their shine and gold color.


Sweat is nothing but salt and water. Oxygen in the water and the chlorides in salt lead to corrosion of the metal present in the gold alloy. 

Additionally, our sweat releases waste materials like urea and ammonia. When these excretions get in touch with copper and silver gold alloys, they can cause chemical reactions that result in copper sulfide and silver chloride. This reaction results in the formation of dark chemical compounds, which are dark-colored chemical salts. Usually, 22-carat or any other lower-carat gold jewelry will turn black due to this reaction initiated by human sweat.

Cosmetics and acidic foods

cosmetics, including perfumes

Most scented cosmetics, including perfumes, skincare products, and body sprays, contain artificial elements and chemicals that rob gold jewelry of its color.

If you are a chef or just someone fond of cooking, we know you love digging your hands into the dough or using your hands to marinate the chicken. Please go ahead and have all the fun while cooking, but avoid wearing your gold rings or other gold pieces when doing it. Acidic food products and gold don’t get along well.

Harsh cleaning substances

Cleaning agents like bleach and chlorine can damage the gold jewelry and, over time, tarnish it. Our everyday grime, like soapy water, dish wash, laundry detergent, facewash, shower gel, etc., can also make gold jewelry lose its color. 

How to clean gold jewelry?

clean gold jewelry

If you take your jewelry to any local jewelry store or the store you bought it from, you can get your gold ring, chain, and other plain or designer jewelry pieces cleaned. Cleaning a piece of gold jewelry requires specialized cleaning solutions that remove the tarnish and are safe for the gold alloy. Jewelry stores have employees with years of experience who know how to take care of this precious metal more than anybody else. They will clean your jewelry safely and without causing any damage.

However, if you are interested in using some DIY methods to clean gold jewelry, we have listed the two best ways you can try at home. 

Cleaning solution 

Prepare a solution with ammonia and warm water in a 6:1 ratio. It is a weak solution that will not harm your jewelry. Dip your jewelry in this solution for some time. Later scrub it gently with a toothbrush or a cotton swab. Rinse your jewelry thoroughly with regular water and ensure there are no ammonia traces. Let it dry. 

Chamois cloth

This method is most effective for the gold chain. Just hold the chain in a piece of chamois cloth and pull the chain from one end to the other. Later clean the chain with a weak solution consisting of ammonia, dish soap, and water like we did in the previous method. Ensure to use a clean cloth.

Cleaning tips:

  • Make sure you close the drain before washing your jewelry. Accidents happen and given how clumsy some of us can be, losing a chain into the drain is very much possible.
  • Always be gentle with the cleaning process. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and rub it on the piece slowly. 
  • Never use daily items like baking soda, toothpaste, etc., on gold jewelry. 
  • Avoid using harsh cleaning agents.
  • If you use a safe and mild cleaning product available in the market, follow all the instructions given on the packet to the T. 

How to maintain gold jewelry to prevent it from turning black?

Clean regularly. 

Clean the gold jewelry that you regularly wear at least once a month. Simply cleaning with dish soap and water is more than enough for regular cleaning. 

Use a jeweler's polishing cloth. 

It is a special type of cloth used to remove dirt, dust, and oil and restore the sheen of gold jewelry. After cleaning, you can use this piece of cloth to bring back the shine of your favorite neckpiece. 

Remove it before the shower.

The chemicals in shower gels and soap damage the shine of gold jewelry; hence always remove the gold jewelry before taking a shower. 

Avoid wearing gold jewelry to the gym and swimming pools.

As mentioned before, sweat and chlorine can discolor your gold jewelry. Hence avoid wearing it to the gym and while entering the pool. Please keep it away from chlorine as much as possible. 

Avoid wearing it while applying cosmetic products.

One of the main reasons why gold jewelry turns black is the exposure to chemicals in cosmetic products. Apply everything you want, from moisturizer to perfume, and then put on your gold jewelry. 

Take it off after use.

Gold Chain

If you wear gold jewelry for the whole day, please take it off at night. Let it air dry overnight, and then put it in a box. The more it is exposed to sweat, the faster it will turn black. 

Storing tips 

  • Always store each piece of jewelry separately. If not, keep the jewelry pieces in a separate pouch or cloth. 
  • Before storing, you should let your jewelry dry completely. 
  • Always use a jewelry box to store your jewelry. 
  • If you don't have a jewelry box, use a sturdy mobile box and place a soft cloth inside.

Bottom line 

I hope this post was able to educate you regarding why your jewelry gets black and how you can clean it and prevent it from tarnishing in the future. 

Gold jewelry is expensive, and after investing your hard-earned money into buying your favorite piece of gold jewelry, seeing it turn black can easily put you off. Gold jewelry is sturdy, but it does require regular maintenance. Either clean it yourself or take it to the jewelry store; the choice is yours. It would help if you remembered that before buying any jewelry, always look for the quality mark with the gold carats written on it. If you want to avoid getting scammed, get in touch with a trusted jeweler.