How to Clean Tarnished White Gold

White gold is a delicate metallic alloy, so cleaning your white gold jewelry requires a gentle touch.
Jewelry with gems and semi-precious stones must be handled with extra care.Jewelry with gems and semi-precious stones must be handled with extra care.
Since pure gold is a soft metal, gold jewelry is mixed with other metals to retain the desired shape and design. White gold today is comprised of an amalgam of gold and rhodium, though older pieces sometimes contain nickel instead of rhodium. Gold itself does not tarnish, though the other metals in the alloy may react to oxygen and moisture and darken with time. Proper cleaning and careful storage will protect white gold from excessive tarnishing.

Step 1

Examine white gold jewelry with semi-precious stones or gems carefully before washing to ensure the bezels are not loose. Bezels that hold gems and semi-precious stones loosen over time, and must be fixed by a professional.

Step 2

Pour warm, not hot, water into two bowls and place them on the counter away from the sink. To prevent dropping your white gold down the drain, stay away from the sink while handling your jewelry.

Step 3

Add a few drops of a mild dish soap to the warm water of one bowl. Stir the water a few times with your fingers to mix the water and soap. Do not use chemicals stronger than soap because abrasive chemicals damage white gold.

Step 4

Rub the white gold in the soap and water gently with your fingers or a soft toothbrush.

Step 5

Rinse the jewelry thoroughly in the second bowl of warm water.

Step 6

Dry your jewelry with a soft, clean cotton cloth. Leave your white gold on the cloth to air dry completely.

Step 7

Rub your dry gold gently with a polishing cloth. Use a vertical motion rather than circular motions to create a maximum shine.

Step 8

Roll each piece of jewelry in a separate anti-tarnish cloth. Store the rolls of white gold in a dry location. Add a silica pouch to absorb moisture in a jewelry box. Placing jewelry in an airtight bag also helps preserve white gold.

Things You Will Need

  • Bowls (2)
  • Mild dish soap
  • Soft toothbrush (optional)
  • Cotton cloth
  • Jewelry polishing cloth
  • Anti-tarnishing cloth
  • Silica pouch
  • Jewelry box (optional)
  • Air-tight bag (optional)

Tip

  • Take antique white gold to a professional cleaner if this is your first time cleaning the jewelry. Antique white gold may naturally be a different color than newer white gold, and a professional will help identify the ideal color of the piece.

Warning

  • Silver is a much stronger metal than gold. Do not use the silver cleansers on gold jewelry.

About the Author

Based in California, Elise O'neill has been freelance writing since 2010. She holds a Master of Arts in literature from the University of California, San Diego. O'neill has traveled across Latin America and Europe, and enjoys writing instructional articles online because it allows her the freedom to move about the world.