How to Care for Gold or Silver Plated Jewelry
We all likely own some gold and/or silver plated jewelry. The cost of plated jewelry is just plain attractive and plated jewelry appears no different then gold or silver pieces. If you're like me (and even if you aren't) then eventually the plated jewelry starts to smell which totally turns you off to ever wanting to wear the piece again. If you're also like the teenage me, you've probably tried some hacks like using clear nail polish to "seal" it. If I could only turn back time and educate myself I could've saved myself so many pieces! Plated jewelry if cared for appropriately can actually last up to two years before it needs re-plating.
Caring for Plated Jewelry
First and foremost, don't use chemicals on plated jewelry. They wear the layer away and it causes the piece to tarnish that much quicker. So it's a no go on jewelry cleaners. Polishing cloths are one alternative, however they do wear the plating away quicker. Honestly, plated jewelry doesn't need to be polished often because rhodium and gold tarnish at a much slower rate then sterling silver, brass, or other alloys. The best way to clean your plated jewelry piece is with water, a drop of dawn dish detergent, and a soft bristled toothbrush. The most important take away here though is to dry the piece very thoroughly before you store it. Wet jewelry will tarnish.
Everyone sweats and plated jewelry does not do well with sweat. Between your body's oils and the moisture, it causes plated jewelry to tarnish very quickly. So keep that in mind when choosing which piece to wear.
While I advocate this often, it still may be new to some of you. Wipe down your jewelry with a soft cloth before you put it away. Seriously, if you remove the oils, dirt, and whatever else managed to get on the piece, it will drastically reduce tarnishing. Speaking of oils you should always put your jewelry on last after you've used your hair spray, done your nails, or used lotion. These types of products will also speed up tarnishing so make sure everything's dry or absorbed before donning the piece.
When you aren't wearing your plated piece, you should store it in such a way that it's not rubbing against anything. You'll reduce scratches this way and help preserve the plating from fading. You can store it in a soft cloth bag individually or a jewelry organizer with separated storage.
If you care for your plated piece, it'll reward you by lasting longer. However, if your jewelry is starting to stink or you've noticed visibly the plating is wearing away you can have the piece re-plated or even purchase your own re-plating kit and do it yourself. If you're starting to notice it smells, you've reached the base metal underneath. You can of course clean the base metal and continue to wear the piece un-plated but many people are sensitive to base metals. Plated jewelry like all jewelry pieces requires a bit of attention and care to keep it in the best shape.