Pure 24ct gold doesn’t tarnish but we don’t tend to wear pure gold as it’s too soft. For durability, it is alloyed with other metals for like copper, silver and zinc. It’s the combination and amount of these other metals that give us 9ct, 14ct and 18ct gold.
9ct gold has the least gold content (9 parts gold to 15 parts ‘other’). It’s paler in colour whilst retaining a golden hue and is considerably cheaper than 18ct. That said, not many people realise that it can tarnish. Like sterling silver, the copper content in the 9ct gold reacts with the elements causing a chemical reaction which we know as tarnish. This however is surface level and can be removed easily with a wipe of a polishing cloth.
Many things can affect the level and speed of tarnish but one of the main culprits is storing your piece in its box. Unfortunately, the glues used in foam-lined jewellery boxes can react with the metal. Another offender is hand sanitiser, something we’re all using a lot of at the moment. You should always remove your jewellery when swimming, in a hot tub, using cleaning products. Believe it or not, some people's natural acidity can turn a sterling silver ring black in one wear! This is why hallmarking is so important as it protects you as a customer but also the maker.
To easily clean your piece at home place it in warm soapy water and use a soft baby toothbrush to give it a light scrub. Rinse and give a final buff with an inexpensive polishing cloth. Don’t do this with any gemstone set jewellery unless you know what you’re dealing with. Opals, turquoise and amber should never be submerged in water. It’s helpful to store unworn jewellery in a plastic zip-lock bag with an anti-tarnish strip or a piece of newspaper to reduce moisture.
I always pop a piece of polishing cloth in with my orders but you can buy the same one from Waitrose for £4. It’s their ‘anti-tarnish silver polishing cloth’ and comes in a rectangular grey box. It works perfectly on gold as well as silver.