Reasons For Gold Jewellery Discolour or Tarnish

Gold is a precious metal that has been valued for its beauty and rarity for thousands of years. It is a symbol of wealth, power, and prestige, and is used to make jewellery, coins, and other luxury items. Gold is prized for its lustrous shine, but over time, it can discolour or tarnish. This can be frustrating for those who want to keep their gold items looking their best. In this blog, we will explore why gold discolours or tarnishes, and what you can do to prevent it.

Extremely tarnished gold

Chemical Reactions

Gold is a very stable and unreactive metal, which means it does not easily react with other substances in the environment. However, gold can still discolour or tarnish over time due to chemical reactions. Gold can react with certain chemicals in the air or on the skin, such as sulphur or chlorine, which can cause it to discolour or tarnish. This is more likely to occur in areas with high levels of pollution or in swimming pools or hot tubs with chlorine.

Contact with Other Metals

Gold can also tarnish when it comes into contact with other metals, such as copper or silver, which are more reactive. This can occur when gold jewellery is worn alongside other jewellery or when gold coins are stored in the same container as other coins. This type of tarnishing is often called “galvanic corrosion” and occurs when two different metals are in contact with each other in the presence of an electrolyte, such as saltwater or sweat.

Wear and Tear

Gold jewellery can also tarnish over time due to wear and tear. Exposure to sweat, perfume, and other chemicals on the skin can cause a buildup of grime and dirt, which can dull the shine of the gold. Scratches and other damage can also occur, which can make the gold appear dull or discoloured.


To prevent gold from discolouring or tarnishing, it’s important to store it properly and clean it regularly. Gold jewellery should be stored in a dry, cool place, and cleaned with a soft cloth and mild soap and water. Avoid wearing gold jewellery while swimming, showering, or performing other activities that could expose it to chemicals or abrasion. It’s also important to avoid wearing gold jewellery with other metals, particularly those that are more reactive, as this can cause galvanic corrosion.

To Sum Up

Gold is a precious metal that can discolour or tarnish over time due to chemical reactions, contact with other metals, and wear and tear. However, with proper care and maintenance, you can keep your gold items looking their best. Store your gold in a dry, cool place, clean it regularly with a soft cloth and mild soap and water, and avoid exposing it to chemicals or abrasion.

Related Questions

1. Can gold tarnish if it's pure?

Yes, even pure gold can tarnish over time due to chemical reactions with the environment or contact with other metals.

2. What can you use to clean tarnished gold?

A soft cloth and mild soap and water can be used to clean tarnished gold. You can also use a commercial gold cleaner, but be sure to read the instructions carefully and avoid using abrasive materials that can scratch the gold.

3. Is gold plating tarnish-resistant?

Gold plating can help protect against tarnishing, but it is not completely tarnish-resistant. Over time, the plating can wear off, exposing the base metal and allowing it to tarnish. Proper care and maintenance can help prolong the life of gold-plated items.

4. Can gold jewellery turn your skin green?

It’s possible for gold jewellery to turn your skin green, particularly if it contains other metals like copper or silver. This can occur due to a reaction between the metal and the acids in your skin. However, this reaction is usually harmless and can be avoided by choosing high-quality gold jewellery that is less likely to contain other metals.

5. Can you prevent gold coins from tarnishing?

Yes, you can prevent gold coins from tarnishing by storing them properly in a dry, cool place and avoiding contact with other metals or chemicals. You can also use special coin capsules or storage materials that are designed to prevent tarnishing and damage to the coins.