Gold is a highly valued precious metal known for its beauty, malleability, and resistance to corrosion. It has been used for centuries in various applications, from jewelry and currency to industrial and technological components. However, many people wonder whether gold can rust or tarnish over time. In this article, we’ll discuss the susceptibility of gold to rust, the factors contributing to rust formation, and how to prevent and clean tarnished gold. By understanding the nature of gold and how it reacts to various environmental factors, you can preserve the luster and value of your gold investments and possessions.
How to Avoid Gold from Rusting or Tarnishing?
Store gold properly:
Proper storage is essential to prevent gold from tarnishing or coming into contact with substances that could cause corrosion. Keep gold in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and moisture. Use airtight containers or plastic bags designed for precious metals to protect your gold from exposure to air and humidity.
Keep gold away from harsh chemicals:
Exposure to chemicals such as chlorine, bleach, or cleaning agents can cause gold to tarnish. Avoid wearing gold jewelry when swimming in chlorinated pools or while using cleaning products. Remove gold jewelry before applying lotions, perfumes, or other personal care products containing chemicals.
Clean gold regularly:
Gently clean your gold items with a soft cloth or a gold-specific cleaning solution to remove dirt, oils, and other substances that could cause tarnish. Rinse and dry your gold thoroughly after cleaning to remove any residual cleaning solution.
Use a protective coating:
For gold items susceptible to tarnish or corrosion, consider applying a thin layer of protective coating or lacquer to create a barrier between the gold and the environment. It can help protect your gold from tarnish and other forms of corrosion.
Why Gold Is (Usually) Not Susceptible to Rust
What is rust?
Rust is the common name for a chemical reaction that occurs when certain metals, such as iron or steel, are exposed to moisture and oxygen, forming iron oxide. This reaction causes the metal to corrode, weaken, and eventually disintegrate.
Gold’s resistance to rust:
Pure gold (24-karat gold) is highly resistant to rust and corrosion because it does not readily react with oxygen or moisture. Unlike iron, gold does not form oxides when exposed to air or water. This natural corrosion resistance is one of the reasons gold has been prized for centuries in various applications, from jewelry to electronics.
Rust in Gold Bars, Gold Coins, and Gold Jewelry
While pure gold is resistant to rust, gold alloys, mixtures of gold, and other metals can be susceptible to tarnish or corrosion under certain conditions. The presence of other metals in the alloy can create a more reactive surface, making the gold more prone to corrosion. This is particularly true for lower-karat gold, which contains a higher percentage of base metals.
Rust in gold bars:
Gold bars typically have high-purity gold, ranging from .999 to .9999 fine gold. This high purity level makes gold bars highly resistant to rust and corrosion. However, if a gold bar contains trace amounts of impurities or is stored in a damp, humid environment, it may develop some tarnish or discoloration.
Rust in gold coins:
Gold coins are often minted in various purities, with some containing a higher percentage of base metals, such as copper or silver. These other metals can make gold coins more susceptible to tarnish or corrosion, especially if exposed to moisture, chemicals, or abrasive substances. To prevent tarnish or corrosion on gold coins, store them in a cool, dry place and use protective sleeves or coin holders explicitly designed for preserving precious metal coins.
Rust in gold jewelry:
Gold jewelry is often made from gold alloys to increase durability and create a desired color, such as white or rose gold. However, lower-karat gold jewelry, which contains a higher percentage of base metals, is more prone to tarnishing or corrosion. To prevent damage to gold jewelry, store it properly, avoid contact with chemicals, and clean it regularly using a gentle cleaning solution designed for gold.
Corrosion of Metal Beneath Gold
In some cases, gold-plated items or gold-filled jewelry may experience corrosion of the base metal beneath the gold layer. For example, it can occur if the gold layer is thin or worn, exposing the underlying metal to moisture and oxygen. In addition, metals such as copper, brass, or nickel, commonly used as base metals in gold-plated items, can corrode and cause the gold layer to become discolored or tarnished.
To prevent corrosion of the metal beneath the gold, protect gold-plated items from scratches or other forms of wear that could compromise the gold layer. Avoid exposing gold-plated items to moisture, chemicals, or abrasive substances that could cause the gold layer to wear away or damage.
Cleaning Tarnished Gold & Preventing Rust
Cleaning tarnished gold:
If your gold items have become tarnished or discolored, several methods exist for cleaning and restoring their original luster. One common method is using a mild cleaning solution designed specifically for gold, such as a gold cleaning dip, a mixture of warm water, and a few drops of mild dish soap. First, gently scrub the gold with a soft cloth or a soft-bristled toothbrush, then rinse thoroughly with warm water and dry with a soft, lint-free cloth.
For heavily tarnished gold, you may need to use a specialized gold cleaning solution or consult a professional jeweler for the best cleaning method for your item.
To prevent rust and tarnish on your gold items, follow these best practices:
- Store gold properly using airtight containers or protective bags designed for precious metals.
- Keep gold away from moisture, direct sunlight, and extreme temperatures.
- Avoid exposing gold to harsh chemicals, such as chlorine or cleaning agents.
- Remove gold jewelry before swimming, showering, or using personal care products that may contain chemicals.
- Clean gold regularly using a gentle cleaning solution designed for gold.
- Consider applying a protective coating or lacquer to gold items susceptible to tarnish or corrosion.
While pure gold is highly resistant to rust and corrosion, gold alloys and gold-plated items can be susceptible to tarnish or corrosion under certain conditions. By understanding the factors contributing to rust formation and following best practices for storing, cleaning, and protecting your gold items, you can preserve their luster and value for years. Proper care and maintenance of your gold investments and possessions will ensure they remain valuable and cherished in your collection or portfolio.
If you are interested in learning more about gold and other precious metals, American Bullion is a great resource. They offer a wide range of products and services, including gold and silver coins and bars, as well as IRA services. They also have a team of knowledgeable professionals who can help you navigate the market and make informed decisions about your investments. Contact American Bullion today to learn more about how you can diversify your portfolio with precious metals.