First, let’s break down how gold works. 1 karat = 1/24th of the alloy is pure gold.
Only solid gold of at least 14 karat (58.3% gold) is appropriate for body jewellery.
Traditional gold plating sucks for body jewellery. It’s very thin and can wear away from friction. Bending the plated jewellery will cause the plating to fracture and chip. This creates environments for bacteria to fester.
Some people are sensitive to the metals present in karat gold. Examples include nickel, silver, zinc, and copper.
White gold uses a high amount of nickel to yield the white colour. This leads to it causing more allergic reactions than its yellow counterpart. Many body jewellery manufacturers now use nickel-free gold alloys. White gold is often alloyed with palladium, an inert metal of the platinum group. This significantly lowers your risk of a reaction. Some people who cannot wear steel alloys can wear 18k white gold palladium alloys.
Okay, so what else do you need to know?
- Some people’s sweat is acidic enough to corrode the non-gold alloys in karat gold. This causes the jewellery to turn black and discolour the surrounding skin.
- Over a long period of time, gold jewellery exposed to urine may get a rough, dull surface. The acids found in urine leach into the surface and dry to form a hard crust.
- Gold jewellery will often become discolored when exposed to povidone iodine.
- Gold jewellery may become discolored when steam-autoclaved; the indicators on sterilization packaging and tape appear to cause discoloration.
- Fret not! Discolored gold jewellery is easily cleaned up with a soft buffing cloth.
Love gold but not the cost? We recommend trying ion-plating. It’s more durable and lasts longer than traditional plating.