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Does 14K Gold Rust? Here’s Your Answer

on Jul 05, 2024

Gold has been serving as a timeless emblem of elegance and allure for centuries. With its lustrous finish and luxurious charm, gold jewelry can elevate any look, from casual outfits to formal attire. Yet, as people cherish its refined brilliance, a question arises: Does 14K gold rust?


Scientifically speaking, 14K gold rusts in extremely rare cases. While slight discoloration can be expected, it’s purely due to the corrosion of the alloy components.


So, what causes 14K gold to corrode and change color over time?


This article delves into the science behind 14K gold rust and corrosion. To preserve the radiant luster of your gold jewelry, here are some cleaning tips and ways to prevent corrosion in the first place.

Does 14K Gold Rust?

14K gold is an alloy of pure gold (58.33%) and other metals such as silver, copper, zinc, and more. Some 14K gold alloys may also include trace amounts of iron (~ 0.1%).


Given the chemical composition of 14K gold, we can say that it doesn’t rust. This is because rust is an iron oxide, also known as ferric oxide (Fe 2 O 3 ), which is formed by the reaction of iron and oxygen in the presence of water or moisture.


As the amount of iron in a 14K gold alloy is minimal, rust formation is negligible. At the impurity level, some gold pieces may contain iron, but the concentration is still too low for the alloy to rust.


In a nutshell, 14K gold doesn’t rust. Rather, silver and copper in the alloy corrode over time, causing the gold alloy to turn black , change its color, or lose its shine.

Why Does Rust Form on Gold Jewelry?

how rust forms on gold jewelry

While many call it rust, discoloration and dull appearance of gold jewelry have actually nothing to do with it. In reality, it’s extremely rare for a 14K gold alloy to rust as the content of iron is 0.1% or lower.


What causes the changes in the color and finish of gold jewelry is the tarnishing process of silver and copper in the alloy.


Based on the corrosion chemistry of silver and copper , these two metals react with reduced sulfur-containing gases, primarily hydrogen sulfide (H 2 S) and carbonyl sulfide (COS). As a result, copper sulfide (Cu 2 S) and silver sulfide (Ag 2 S) are formed.


While gold alloys with greater than 50 atomic percent gold are typically corrosion resistant, slight tarnishing may still be noticeable in 14K gold jewelry.


All things considered, the reason your gold jewelry changes its color and appearance is the corrosion of silver and copper, not rust.

What Corrodes 14K Gold Jewelry

what corrodes 14K gold jewelry

Although 14K gold is prized for its durability, several factors can accelerate the corrosion of silver and copper in the alloy.


Here’s what causes corrosion and tarnishing in 14K gold jewelry.

Moisture

Oxygen, sulfur, and moisture are the primary culprits when gold jewelry is exposed to the atmosphere. While the pure gold content of 14K gold will stay intact, silver and copper can tarnish and develop a darker color ranging from reddish brown to blue and green.

Polluted Air

Sulfur-containing air pollutants can affect the way your 14K gold jewelry looks. By reacting more rapidly with silver and copper, gold jewelry may corrode at a higher rate when exposed to polluted air.

Exposure to Chemicals

14K gold is water resistant, but it’s still recommended to keep it away from chemicals, including chlorine, bleach, shower gels, body lotions, perfumes, etc.


Although it’s okay to get gold wet, showering with your 14K gold jewelry can accelerate corrosion.

Low Quality Materials and Plating

If a 14K gold alloy consists of lower-quality metals such as iron, discoloration and degradation will be much more noticeable.


The same applies to gold-plated jewelry. Even though gold-plated jewelry tarnishes over time , a thin layer of gold coating can make the jewelry lose its shine and value much faster.

Lack of Maintenance

Keeping your gold jewelry well-maintained is essential for preserving its luxurious appearance. Without regular cleaning and polishing, 14K gold can corrode and tarnish over time.

How to Clean Corroded or Rusted Gold Jewelry

how to clean corroded or rusted jewelry

Corrosion can affect the overall appearance and durability of 14K gold jewelry. With some household products and light scrubbing, you can easily remove the tarnish and give your precious pieces the original luster back.

Read more about: How to clean rusted jewelry 

Necessary Supplies

First things first, you’ll need to gather some household cleaning products. Removing discoloration from 14K gold doesn’t require any harsh chemicals. Here’s what to get:

  • Baking soda

  • White vinegar

  • Dish soap

  • Lemon juice

  • Salt

  • Warm water

Tools Required

Whether it’s a gold chain or another piece of jewelry, you can easily clean it at home with just a couple of tools, including:

  • Soft bristle toothbrush

  • Lint-free cloth

  • Small container

Préparer une solution de bicarbonate de soude

To thoroughly clean your tarnished 14K gold jewelry, mix some warm water with 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda. You’ll need to achieve a paste-like consistency.


Alternatively, you can dissolve baking soda in warm water and submerge your gold jewelry for 15-30 minutes.


A saline solution could also work. You can simply dissolve some salt in warm water and use it as an alternative to a baking soda solution.

Appliquer la solution

Use a soft bristle toothbrush and gently apply the baking soda paste to the jewelry. Make sure to reach the crevices, cuts, and grooves.

Let the Paste Sit

Let the baking soda paste sit for at least 15 minutes. The time it takes to remove the tarnish depends on the condition of your 14K gold jewelry.

Rincer les bijoux

Gently rinse the jewelry in some warm water to remove the remaining baking soda solution. If you still see some discoloration, you can proceed with dish soap and warm water.

Tremper dans une solution de vinaigre blanc

If baking soda and dish soap couldn’t remove the tarnish from your gold jewelry, prepare a white vinegar solution by mixing one part of vinegar with two parts of warm water. Let your jewelry sit in the solution for 15-30 minutes before rinsing.


While white vinegar can effectively remove the tarnish from gold jewelry, this method is not recommended for gold-plated pieces or those with precious gemstones.

Dry and Polish

To finish up, use a soft, lint-free cloth to dry your gold jewelry and give it a polished look.

How to Prevent Your Gold Jewelry from Getting Rusty or Corroded

If you take proper care of your gold jewelry, you can easily prevent it from getting rusty or corroded. Here’s what you should consider.

Regular Maintenance

Set regular cleaning and maintenance routines to keep your gold jewelry in good condition. Ideally, you should clean your jewelry after each use.

Stockage adéquat

Jewelry storage plays an important role in preventing corrosion and tarnishing. To store your jewelry safely , use compartmented jewelry boxes and individual ziplock bags.

Use Silica Gel Packs

Silica gel packs can absorb moisture and prevent tarnishing. By placing a couple of silica gel packs when storing or packing your jewelry, you can keep the pieces dry and shiny.

Keep the Jewelry Dry

It’s important to minimize exposure to water and moisture. Always store your 14K gold in a dry place and avoid swimming or showering while wearing gold chains or other accessories.

Conclusion

14K gold is a durable gold alloy, offering a perfect blend of quality and value. While 14K gold is generally resistant to water, moisture, and other chemicals, it may still show some signs of discoloration over time.


So, does 14K gold rust? What are those dark spots on your gold jewelry?


There’s a common misconception about 14K gold rusting. The truth is that only alloys that contain iron will rust. As the content of iron in 14K gold ranges from 0 to 0.1%, this gold alloy isn’t expected to rust. However, it corrodes over time due to the presence of silver and copper.


Exposure to moisture, air pollution, low-quality plating, and lack of maintenance are some primary causes of corrosion in 14K gold jewelry.


By regularly cleaning your gold jewelry, you can keep the pieces well-maintained. This, in turn, will prevent corrosion, tarnishing, and discoloration.

Joosep Seitam

Joosep Seitam

Joosep est né à Tallinn, en Estonie, un petit pays d'Europe du Nord. Il est entrepreneur et l'un des cofondateurs d'Icecartel. Joosep travaille dans le secteur de la bijouterie depuis 2019, année où il a créé la marque à partir de zéro. Au cours de ces années, Joosep a appris tout ce qu'il y a à savoir sur l'industrie de la bijouterie et il est ici pour partager tout cela !

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