Does Gold Tarnish? How Do You Remove It?

Although pure metallic gold does not react to sulfur in the air, it will tarnish if exposed to ozone or hydrogen sulfide. This happens when small amounts of chlorine (in tap water) mix with hydrogen sulfide (a common atmospheric gas). The result is a chemical reaction that makes gold’s surface look black.

Pure gold does not tarnish. This is because tarnishing requires metal to react with oxygen, and gold does not do this. However, gold is often combined with other metals in order to raise the hardness of the finished product, and items made from gold alloys may tarnish if the other metal does.

Tarnish can be prevented by keeping gold out of contact with sulfur and covering it with an anti-tarnish coating. However, even coated rings won’t remain flawless forever. Eventually, all things change color as they age; the only difference is where the color appears on the ring’s surface—on plastic or other nonmetallic materials. In contrast, metal surfaces tarnish, developing a thin film on top of the metal. This type of surface discoloration is typically seen as a blackening or darkening of the metal surface.

In the case of gold, tarnish is a thin layer of black metallic sulfide on the ring’s surface. This discoloration might be prevented by polishing and waxing your ring regularly. Old-fashioned remedies for removing tarnish from gold rings include mild acids such as lemon juice or vinegar. Polishes that contain a dilute acid can also be used to remove tarnish from a gold ring. However, these products should only be used if you have tested them in an inconspicuous area first to make sure they don’t damage the metal underneath the tarnish.

What does tarnished gold look like?

Gold jewelry that is heavily tarnished will appear black. Tarnish on gold does not corrode the ring; instead, it darkens its surface color.

Gold can turn black when it is exposed to hydrogen sulfide and chlorine. When the two come into contact, a chemical reaction occurs that turns the ring’s surface black. Tarnish on gold jewelry also can be filled with small holes and cracks in its surface. As this condition worsens, the ring might even lose its luster and shine.

Tarnish doesn’t damage or corrode the metal; instead, it darkens its original color. Over time, this discoloration builds up to give the entire piece a darker tone. This process happens naturally as oxygen interacts with metals such as gold over time. Oxygen molecules tie themselves to tiny gold atoms at an atomic level, gradually causing the metal to tarnish.

In addition, gold rings that have been treated with anti-tarnish coatings might experience a similar discoloration over time, which appears as a darkening or blackening of the surface color rather than a colored powdery coating. This problem is also known as “blooming,” It can be prevented by keeping your ring clean and dry.

How do you remove tarnish from gold?

You can help a gold ring retain a brighter shine by cleaning, polishing, and protecting it from moisture. Clean your ring with mild soap and water to remove dirt or debris that might have built upon its surface. If the ring is heavily tarnished, use an old toothbrush with some toothpaste to gently scrub the dirt away without damaging the design on your ring.

If you’re not able to clean your ring thoroughly in this way, try using a soft cloth dipped in warm water with mild dishwashing liquid instead.

Polish your piece of gold jewelry regularly using commercial products designed for this purpose. Apply these products according to their manufacturer’s instructions, then wipe off any excess solution before wearing or storing your ring again. While some types of metal polishes contain a small amount of acid, they should not damage the metal, as long as you pay attention to how often you use them and keep them away from your ring’s stone.

Protect your gold ring by storing it in an airtight container rather than leaving it out in the open air. This will protect the surface of your jewelry from exposure to hydrogen sulfide and chlorine gases that can cause tarnish. You also can apply a thin coating of petroleum jelly to the surface of your ring for added protection against harsh weather conditions or exposure to household chemicals.

Gold rings are delicate pieces of jewelry that demand careful maintenance. Even if you clean, polish, and protect your piece regularly, it will eventually begin to show signs of age through discoloration and tarnishing. If you purchase a high-quality ring and take good care of it, this process should only happen slowly over time.

Does real gold tarnish in water?

Gold does not rust or corrode, but it does tarnish when exposed to hydrogen sulfide and chlorine. When the two come in contact, a chemical reaction occurs that changes gold’s surface color.

It doesn’t take much exposure for these conditions to set in — too much exposure can damage the ring’s design. If your water is fluoridated, you’ll need even more caution since removing this type of tarnish requires harsher chemicals. Your best bet is to protect your ring by keeping it away from water as much as possible.

Gold can stay shiny and new-looking longer if it’s stored in an airtight container. Gold also is less likely to corrode with petroleum jelly applied as a protective coat. Moreover, many people swear by toothpaste or baking soda as chemical-free cleaning products that help keep their rings sparkly without causing damage. With regular care, all types of gold jewelry can remain beautiful for years to come.

To help your ring retain its original shine for as long as possible, you should clean it regularly with mild soap and store it in an airtight container. Protecting it from exposure to hydrogen sulfide and chlorine gases will also help delay staining. Finally, try applying petroleum jelly to the surface of your gold jewelry to slow down tarnishing even further.


Gold rings can tarnish when exposed to certain elements in the environment, such as chlorine and hydrogen sulfide. In most cases, however, following proper care instructions can prevent or slow down this process. If your ring does begin to show signs of tarnishing, you might be able to remove them by scrubbing gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste or using small amounts of commercial jewelry cleaners.

Store your ring in an airtight container if possible, and keep it away from water conditions where it can come into contact with these substances. If you protect your ring with petroleum jelly, it will also be less likely to corrode.

Gene Botkin

Hello, I'm Gene. My family belonged to the aristocracy of Old Russia, and I created this site to re-establish a familial connection with them. My aims are to generate interest in aristocratic virtues, such as beauty, honor, and loyalty, and to spread Russian culture.

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