Jewelery and Chlorine
Name: Nancy S.
Yesterday, I was putting chlorine tablets in my pools' chlorinator. I forgot to take
off a gold and diamond tennis bracelet that I was wearing, and it immediately turned the gold a
very dark color - almost copper-looking. What can I do to restore the gold?
Your bracelet tarnished because it is not (100%) pure gold. Pure gold (24K) will not tarnish and
it would not be affected by the treatment it received from the chlorine pellets. The metal in the
bracelet is a gold alloy that contains copper. That is what tarnished.
It would be simple to clean up were it a smooth ring. A rub with a simple jewelry polishing cloth
could restore the shine. Because it is a bracelet set with diamonds, it will likely be impossible
to polish in all its nooks and crannies with a cloth or buffing wheel. I suggest you take it to a
jeweler and let him/her do the job in a chemical bath. They will be able to restore your bracelet
without harming it.
I do not think your bracelet is gold, at least not very pure gold. It sounds like it may have a
substantial quantity of either copper or silver in it, which would be consistent with a tennis
bracelet. 18-24 carat gold in such a bracelet probably would not withstand the wear and tear of
many tennis matches. Try a commercial jewelry polish, take it to a jeweler and have them clean
it. If you do not want to do either of those some dilute household ammonia may work, but one of
the first two suggestions would be preferable.
Click here to return to the Chemistry Archives
Update: June 2012