Why Is My Gold Chain Turning Black?

by Ultimate Jewelry Guide
Why Is My Gold Chain Turning Black?

Have you ever discovered a gold band that had taken on a copper hue and wondered why? Gold jewelry discolors over time due to the fact that it is not made of pure gold. Typically, the gold itself does not tarnish over time; the other components do. Gold discoloration can also be caused by insufficient gold plating procedures, where the gold layer is too thin and eventually wears away, revealing the base material.

Does Gold Undergo Discoloration?

Due to the fact that gold is a tarnish-resistant metal, it will not discolor. This is due to gold’s low reactivity. In chemistry, reactivity refers to an element’s propensity for losing electrons and forming positive ions. The greater the likelihood that this will occur, the more reactive an element is.

Chemists expose an element to water, acids, and steam to determine its reactivity. For instance, when a highly reactive element, such as potassium metal, is placed in water, it rapidly reacts, producing hydrogen gas and sufficient heat to ignite in the desired proportions. When gold, which has low reactivity, is placed in water, steam, or dilute acid baths, it does not react.

Does Gold Alloy Undergo Discoloration?

While gold does not tarnish chemically, gold alloys do at varying rates depending on the blend. Silver, copper, iron, zinc, and aluminum, for example, are frequently added to gold in variable ratios to generate various gold alloys. These metals have a greater reactivity rating than gold, which means they discolor more quickly. Displacement is the term used in chemistry to describe the reaction when metals are combined.

Another chemical reaction that can create discoloration in gold alloys is oxidation. When metal oxidizes due to exposure to oxygen, it loses electrons. Again, due to the low reactivity of pure gold, it is extremely unlikely to oxidize, but the other metals in gold alloys will.

How To Know If Your Gold Is Tarnishing?

On gold, tarnish patches are frequently red, brown, or black. While tarnish spots on ancient pure gold artifacts were previously believed to be possible, contrast microscopy and laser scanning demonstrated that these spots are caused by nanometer-thick layers of other elements such as silver or sulfur. A piece of gold may be covered in various impurity particles, resulting in a variety of tarnish spot hues.

Silver and gold are common alloying elements and are popular due to their ability to generate a “true” gold tint. The purple coloration of gold may be caused by silver tarnishing and the formation of silver chloride, which is a mixture of binary silver salts and chlorine. When silver sulfide is formed, a black tarnish results.

Do Gold Plated Chains Tarnish?

Gold plating is a process that uses electricity to chemically attach a small layer of gold to a base metal. This technique is performed several times for high-quality gold plating in order to build up multiple layers of gold. Proper gold plating procedures use pure gold, which prevents tarnishing by avoiding contact with the base metal, which has a higher reactivity. Discoloration occurs solely when the base metal is exposed in this case.

Poor-quality plating with a low-grade gold alloy often results in thinner or inadequately bonded layers that wear away and quickly discolor the base metal. By replating the piece, discoloration caused by exposed base metals can be rectified. Replating may also be used to restore things that have been improperly plated. However, this can be more challenging due to the more complex chemical composition of gold alloys.

How To Get Black Off Of Your Gold Chain?

There are numerous causes for a gold chain to get blackened due to surface corrosion, the most common being when lower-carat gold comes into touch with sweat and body sprays such as perfume or hairspray. However, jewelry can tarnish when worn while cooking sulfuric, acidic foods such as onions – and in any of these circumstances, the black tarnishing can rub off onto your skin. Fortunately, you do not have to discard your gold or hide it in a box. With a little delicate washing, you can restore its lustrous sheen.

  • Step 1: Unfasten your gold chain and hang one end downward. Fold a soft chamois cloth in half and wrap it around the chain’s upper portion.
  • Step 2: Run the cloth carefully down the chain. Rep this procedure until all tarnish has been eliminated.
  • Step 3: One teaspoon dish soap dissolved in 1 cup cold water Three drops of ammonia are added. With an old soft toothbrush, stir the solution. Alternatively, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when using a commercial jewelry cleaning.
  • Step 4: Lay the chain flat on a clean cloth and use the damp toothbrush to scrub away the remaining tarnish gently. As needed, rinse the toothbrush to remove the black tarnish before you begin scrubbing, re-dip it in the soapy water.
  • Step 5: Rinse the chain thoroughly with warm water and allow it to dry flat.

How To Prevent Gold Jewelry From Tarnishing?

The first step is to avoid prolonged exposure to the substances listed above when protecting your gold jewelry from tarnishing. Additionally, the following tips will help prevent your gold jewelry from tarnishing:

  • When washing your hands or showering, always remove your jewelry. Soaps can leave a poor sheen on your jewelry, making it more difficult to clean over time.
  • Invest in a good jewelry box to keep your jewels organized. This will minimize the possibility of their scratching one another. Add a silica gel packet to your jewelry box to assist in removing moisture.
  • Allowing your jewelry to be wet for extended periods of time is not recommended.


To conclude the thoughts on the tarnishing of gold chains, you are advised to practice cleaning your gold chains before you keep them again. Do not allow them to be in contact with extreme chemicals to avoid damaging and tarnishing. There are ways you can follow in cleaning your tarnishing gold chains at home. But suppose you encounter extreme damage on your gold chain. In that case, it is best if you will bring it to a professional jeweler to undergo professional cleaning service and rehabilitation of its quality.

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