Can You Shower with a Gold Chain?
A well-made real gold chain necklace can last a lifetime with the proper care. Of course, if you’ve ever looked for guides on how to clean a gold chain necklace at home, you may have discovered conflicting information online. For example, while some websites recommend using an ultrasonic cleaner, it’s actually better to use soap and water on most both women’s and men’s gold chains.
Even the question, “can you wear a gold chain in the shower?” is up for debate. Some sources say no, while others say it’s fine to take a shower with a gold chain. So, can you shower with a gold chain on? The answer is yes, you can take a shower wearing a gold chain—but there are a few tricks to know to keep your gold chain looking good as new. We’ll go over everything you need to know about showering with a gold chain in this guide!
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- The Properties of Gold
- What is Gold Tarnishing?
How to Care for Gold Jewelry
- If Showering with a Gold Chain, Use Care
- Avoid Swimming with a Gold Chain
- Avoid Exposing Gold Chains to Cleaning Products, Steam, Salt, etc.
- Clean Your Gold Chain As Soon As You Can After Exposure
- Know How to Clean a Gold Chain Properly
- Carry Something to Store Your Gold Chain
- Make Sure Your Gold Chain Dries Fully
- Don’t Sleep With Your Gold Chain On
- When In Doubt, Consult an Expert
- Make Caring for Your Gold Chain a Habit
The Properties of Gold
No other metal compares to gold in regards to its appearance and properties, which is one of the reasons why gold is so valued and sought-after. Gold is durable, malleable enough to design intricate forms, and pure gold doesn’t react with oxygen or corrode. These properties make gold an important metal for scientific and technological uses.
However, on the flip side, pure 24K gold is too soft to maintain its form in jewelry, and it must be mixed with small amounts of stronger metals in an alloy. The karat number describes the ratio of pure gold to these other metals; higher-karat gold jewelry contains higher amounts of pure gold, while lower-karat gold jewelry contains higher amounts of alloy metal. The gold karat value can range from 10K gold to 18K gold in durable jewelry.
In contrast, the reason why gold-plated and gold-filled jewelry is not considered “real gold” is because they contain only trace levels of gold and mainly consist of other metals.
What Is 10K Gold?
10K gold consists of 46.6% pure gold; the rest is a mixture of alloy metals such as sterling silver, platinum, zinc, or others. The percentage of real gold is high enough in a 10K gold chain that it will not rust or corrode; however, 10K gold can tarnish more quickly, which can be reversed with cleaning. Because it can tarnish more quickly, 10K gold requires a bit more frequent cleaning than higher karats.
That being said, if you’re on a budget, 10K solid gold chains are generally the most affordable real gold jewelry you can buy. In addition to the good price, 10K gold jewelry is also harder than other karats due to it containing a higher number of stronger alloy metals, so a 10K gold chain is less likely to get scratched than higher karat gold jewelry.
What is 14K Gold?
14K contains 58.3% pure gold, which is more than 10K gold but less than 18K gold. 14K gold is slightly less strong than 10K gold but has a desirable balance of durability and luxuriousness. A 14K gold chain has a warmer tone than a 10K gold chain due to the higher content of pure gold.
Because it contains more pure gold, 14K gold will tarnish more slowly than 10K gold, but it tarnishes more quickly than 18K gold. That being said, all real gold jewelry requires care and maintenance, and cleaning is essential to keep any real gold chain looking new.
What is Gold Tarnishing?
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Many people are surprised to learn that the Statue of Liberty wasn’t always its trademark green color. When it was first made, the Statue of Liberty, which is made out of copper, was once a shiny bronze hue. Over the next three decades, the rain, along with moisture in the air, caused the copper to tarnish, turning the Statue of Liberty green.
The same thing can happen if you wear a cheap metal ring in the shower over time—if it contains copper, it can react with water and turn your finger green.
The definition of tarnishing is the formation of a slight layer of corrosion on the surface layer of metal. Gold corrosion occurs when the metal alloys mixed with gold react to water, heat, or other conditions in the environment. Because gold jewelry contains a mixture of metals that can corrode with pure gold (which does not corrode), the tarnish is manageable and can be cleaned off with proper care.
What Does Gold Tarnish Look Like?
So, how can you tell if your gold jewelry has tarnished? Well, tarnish on gold jewelry appears as slight discoloration of the jewelry, usually a darker or duller color. This means that the surface of your gold chain has begun to corrode slightly and formed a film.
To restore the luster of your gold jewelry, you need to keep your gold chain clean and stay up-to-date with removing the layer of tarnish.
What Causes a Gold Chain to Tarnish?
There are many environmental factors that cause gold jewelry to tarnish. Many things that are out of your control, such as the content of the air, can cause gold to tarnish.
Here are some of the reasons/things that cause gold tarnish:
- Oxygen and sulfur compounds mixing with moisture
- (Exposure to chemicals such as perfume, hairspray, lotions, and deodorants
- Exposure to cleaning agents like chlorine and dish detergents
- Handling/being exposed to foods with high levels of acidity or sulfur compounds, such as shellfish, onions, fruit juices, spices, and pickled items.
Of all the reasons why gold tarnishes, the most common cause of gold tarnish is exposure to oxygen and sulfur (hydrogen sulfide gas), and moisture. Hydrogen sulfide gas is found in the air, particularly from smoke when coal or oil is burned. Polluted air contains more hydrogen sulfide, so if you live in a city, you may experience faster tarnishing.
Tarnishing is something that all real gold jewelry owners have to deal with, but it is easier if you keep up with cleaning your gold chain.
How to Care for Gold Jewelry
If you want to assure that your gold chain stays new-looking even if you wear it in the shower, it’s good to know some basic gold chain care tips. Here are some ways to keep your gold chain in primo condition.
If Showering with a Gold Chain, Use Care
Though it’s OK to shower while wearing a gold chain, you’ll want to be mindful about it and take several precautions:
- Avoid staying in the water for too long (keep it under 1 hour).
- Don’t make the water too hot.
- Try to keep it from getting products (e.g., shampoo, body wash, shaving cream) on it.
- Keep it from getting tangled in your hair, cloth, or loofah.
Following these measures can help reduce the time you’ll have to spend cleaning your gold chain post-shower. And yes, you’ll always want to clean your gold chain after showering to get off any residue, such as from soap.
Avoid Swimming with a Gold Chain
Whether it’s the ocean, lake, salt pool, chlorinated pool, or hot tub, you should avoid wearing your Gold Chain while swimming. The salt from the sea can leave a residue on your gold chain, and it can get in between the tiny links.
Furthermore, pools contain harsh products to keep them sanitary that can damage gold jewelry and cause them to develop a film. On top of that, if it’s hot and sunny out, you’ll likely be sweating, which can build up on a gold chain and cause more debris to stick to it.
Avoid Exposing Gold Chains to Cleaning Products, Steam, Salt, etc.
Your gold chain can attract tiny particles of not only dirt and sand, but it can get a dull residue from exposure to things like grease, soap, detergent, exfoliants, steam from cooking, cologne/perfume, lotion, shaving cream, oil, sweat, and more.
When in doubt, take off your gold necklace before cooking, swimming, cleaning, or working out. The less it encounters chemicals and natural residue, the easier it will be to clean.
Clean Your Gold Chain As Soon As You Can After Exposure
If you DO happen to get water, sweat, or any kind of bad substance on your gold chain, you should try to clean it as soon as possible to prevent the buildup. The same goes for when you shower with a gold chain on; the sooner you clean it afterward, the better-looking you can keep it.
Know How to Clean a Gold Chain Properly
Cleaning gold jewelry is pretty easy to do, but you have to follow certain protocols to avoid damaging it, such as using a soft-bristled brush.
One of the easiest ways to clean a real gold necklace is to soak it in water, add a little soap, scrub it with a soft brush, dry it with a delicate cloth, and let it fully air dry to finish out. For more information, check out our article on all the different ways to clean a gold chain.
Carry Something to Store Your Gold Chain
Storing a gold chain the correct way can help keep it clean and reduce maintenance time. You should store your gold chain when it’s completely dry in an air-tight box or microfiber pouch. Always store it separately from other jewelry, such as rings and watches, to prevent it from getting scratched.
If you keep something with you to keep your gold chain, you can always take it off before activities to put it safely away.
Make Sure Your Gold Chain Dries Fully
Once a gold chain gets wet, it should be cleaned and dried completely before being stored or worn again. The reason for this is that water contains minerals and other particles that can leave little water drop marks on your gold chain, which will have to be removed by cleaning it again. Drying your gold chain prevents the water stains from forming.
Don’t Sleep With Your Gold Chain On
When you’re really tired, wearing a gold chain to sleep might seem like not a big deal. However, many things can go wrong. In addition to the gold chain being exposed for much longer to the natural oils on your skin, it can get tangled in your hair or bedding. Furthermore, the individual chain links could become knotted or tangled as well.
When In Doubt, Consult an Expert
If you’re ever uncertain about how to clean or care for a particular mark on your gold chain, reach out to a reputable jeweler. Many of them can give you some basic advice in a free consultation, especially if you maintain a relationship with the store where you bought your gold chain or another jeweler.
Make Caring for Your Gold Chain a Habit
Get into the habit of caring for your gold chain. You can plan to store your gold chain before doing regular activities and bring a designated storage bag or box with you when you leave. Get into the habit of cleaning it regularly or the same day after it gets exposed to environmental substances, sweat, or even air pollution.
The more you do it, the easier it will become. Making an effort to add a gold chain care routine to your schedule is worth it too, since the many ways that it can elevate your style are effortless.
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Can you take a hot bath with a gold chain?
It’s best to avoid taking a hot bath with a gold chain. However, if you do happen to wear a gold chain in a hot bath, be sure to clean it immediately after and dry it completely before putting it on or storing it.
Can you shower with an 18k gold chain?
Yes, you can shower with an 18K gold chain, but it’s best not to do this frequently. Soaps, conditioners, shampoos, and other products can leave a residue on your 18K gold chain, so you must take care to properly clean it after you shower with it.
Can you shower with a 14k gold chain?
Yes, you can shower with a 14K gold chain, but it’s best not to do this frequently. Soaps, conditioners, shampoos, and other products can leave a residue on your 14K gold chain, so you must take care to properly clean it after you shower with it.
Can you shower with a 10k gold chain?
Yes, you can shower with a 10K gold chain, but it’s best not to do this frequently. Soaps, conditioners, shampoos, and other products can leave a residue on your 10K gold chain, so you must take care to properly clean it after you shower with it.
Can you shower with a gold-plated chain?
No, you cannot shower with a gold-plated chain. Showering, swimming, or bathing with gold-plated jewelry severely shortens the longevity of your piece, as the water and soap can further increase the speed of the gold plating falling off.
When it comes to appearance and maintenance, real gold chains have advantages over other metal types. However, to maintain the beautiful luster of an authentic gold chain, you want to make sure to clean it regularly and care for it on a daily basis.
If you’re looking to buy a gold chain, you can rely on a reputable jewelry store to answer your questions and concerns about caring for your gold chain. Here at ItsHot, we do everything we can to help our customers feel confident not only wearing their authentic gold chain necklaces but when cleaning them as well.
Feel free to contact us at any time via our 24/7 customer live chat, or you can give us a call or email us. An expert is always ready to answer any of your questions regarding gold and diamond jewelry.
Founder of ItsHot.com
Denis Stepansky is a founder of ItsHot, a diamond jewelry and watches store based in NYC. He has been in the jewelry business for about 20 years and owns such high-end jewelry brands as Luccello and Luxurman. As a jewelry expert, he has citations on well-known magazines and newspapers like Insider and Daily Mail.
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