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"Cleaning tarnished gold plating"

Current question:

December 13, 2021

Q. My name is Suzanne. I found a Stuart Devlin goblet at a thrift store. It needs cleaning. It is a sterling Goblet with a gold wash inside and on the stem. The stem is detailed with grape and vine. There are dark stains inside and on the stem. How do I clean this.

34014-1b   34014-1a   34014-1c  

Suzanne Reising
- Bartlett, Tennessee

December 2021

A. Hi Suzanne. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but gold plating does not tarnish or stain. What you are seeing is probably areas which have worn through to the underlying silver or where the gold and silver have inter-diffused. I suspect that you are looking at silver tarnish. Unfortunately, due to the thinness of the gold, I think any efforts to remove the silver tarnish may rub away more gold and just expand the unplated area.

You could send it to a plating shop for re-plating or, if you are an experienced hobbyist/craftsperson you could consider gold plating it yourself. A few years ago there was a non-electrolytic gold wash available (Medallion Liquid Gold) but I don't see it even on e-bay anymore and I'm not aware of any other vendor offering it. Hobbyists can do gold leafing, but I don't have much confidence that the color & texture will match.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Closely related Q&A's, oldest first:


Q. I have just purchased a 1923 banjo, whereby the gold plating is tarnished. Do you have a recommendation on how best to clean it without causing any damage. 

My sincere appreciation for any thoughts/comments/suggestions you may have!   

Thank you,

Kris M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Retail Sales - Sanford, North Carolina

Medallion Liquid Gold Plating Kit

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Pure gold doesn't tarnish, Kris, so what you are probably looking at is the gold has gotten thin in spots. Whatever cleaner or polish you use will not be working on the gold, it will be working on the underlying metal through the porosity in the gold plate. Gold plating is very thin, so I would recommend a non-abrasive cleaner or you'll expose more of the underlayment.

The ideal thing to do is to have those components gold plated again by a plating shop. If that isn't practical you can try the Medallion Gold Plating System, which is an immersion gold plating paste for home use, although I haven't personally used it and can 't attest to how effective it is.

If you decide to try it, please get back to us with your assessment of how useful it was.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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