What is plated jewelry?
Plated jewelry is made of a base metal coated with a thin layer of another metal. A piece of jewelry can be plated with rose or yellow gold, palladium, rhodium (white). We can find several base metals, such as sterling silver, copper, brass, etc. No matter the type of metal, you store and clean them the same way.
At Véronique Roy Jwls, we recommend and use sterling silver to avoid allergic reactions.
There are several plating thicknesses. The cheapest ones are often so thin we call flash plating because the jewelry stays in the machine literally for one flash. That plating is mainly used on fashion jewellery and is not very durable. The thicker plating, called vermeil, is measured in microns. It is frequently used in Canada and the United States. At Véronique Roy Jwls we use one-micron plated one of our earrings and necklaces, and a two-micron plating one the rings. It's a durable type of plating, and the colour is closer to solid gold.
Why does my skin react to my gold-plated jewelry?
One of the main reasons that can cause an allergic reaction is when the skin comes in contact with the metal under the plating. There is usually a base plating underneath the gold one to prevent the base metal from oxidizing. However, since the gold plating on top is very thin, the contact with your skin will eventually rub off the top layer of plating. As a result, the skin will touch the metal underneath, which can cause skin reactions through the plating.
At Veronique Roy Jwls we do not plate earring posts to avoid any allergic reactions.
How to care for gold plated jewelry
It is essential to understand that plated jewelry is always a little more fragile than non-plated jewelry. Plating is composed of gold and other metals, such as silver and copper; these react to humidity and oxidize on contact. Sterling silver (also called 925 silver) oxidizes upon contact with ambient air. It is composed of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. The contact with copper oxidizes it since it reacts strongly to humidity.
The plating can also react to contact with skin that produces acidity, hence the importance of cleaning and maintaining it regularly.
Silver jewelry tarnishes quickly if stored in a humid environment. In addition, chemicals like bleach, different body products, and styling products accelerate its oxidation, as mentioned and explained in our How To Clean and Care For Silver Jewelry article.
The fragility of the plating makes it more sensitive when it is in contact with this type of product which risks causing it to lose its colour and shine. In addition, the plating could blacken the jewel, which will become much more difficult to clean.
4 tips for caring for your plated jewelry
Here are some tips that will help preserve your plated jewelry colour and shine.
- Take the habit of storing your jewelry separately in small airtight bags (Ziploc type), and then store it in an airtight container.
- Apply your hair and skin products, including perfume, before putting on your jewelry.
- Always remove your jewelry before showering, going to the spa or swimming pool, washing dishes, playing sports, sunbathing.
- Clean your jewelry with a soft cloth to remove dust and dirt after use.
The first thing to do if you notice that your jewelry is darkening a bit
- Apply a soft cloth to your jewelry and clean it circularly by applying some pressure
- Prepare a 50/50 mixture (water and rubbing alcohol) in a damp cloth. Then dry it and polish it with a microfiber cloth
- First, dissolve dish soap in water. Then clean the jewelry with a sponge or a soft cloth with the liquid mixture. Finally, polish it with a soft cloth when it is completely dry.
Do not use:
- Your cleaning cloth for sterling silver, since it contains chemicals that will remove the plating.
- Cleaners for silverware or silver jewelry, such as acids and powders. The substances used in these products are powerful and sometimes harmful and may damage the plating.
- Toothbrushes with hard bristles or metal or abrasive brushes.