How to Remove Gold Plating from Stainless Steel

Gold-plated stainless steel jewelry can be a stunning addition to your collection, but over time, the gold layer may wear off or lose its luster. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t worry; there are several methods you can try to remove the gold plating from stainless steel. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most effective techniques for restoring the stainless steel beneath the gold coating. However, please exercise caution and follow safety guidelines when attempting these methods to prevent damage to your jewelry or harm to yourself.

Remove Gold Plating from Stainless Steel

Using a Mildly Abrasive Pad and Buffing Compound or Toothpaste

This method involves gentle abrasion to remove the gold layer and buffing the surface to bring back the shine. Before starting, clean the jewelry with alcohol or vinegar to eliminate any dirt or grease that may interfere with the process. Follow these steps:

  1. Clean the jewelry: Wipe the jewelry with a clean cloth soaked in alcohol or vinegar to ensure a clean surface.
  2. Apply the abrasive pad or toothpaste: Gently scrub the gold-plated area with a mildly abrasive pad or toothpaste. Be patient and apply consistent pressure to remove the gold layer effectively.
  3. Buff the surface: After removing the gold plating, use a soft cloth to buff the stainless steel surface until it shines.

Keep in mind that this method may leave the stainless steel scratched and smooth. However, it can be an effective way to restore the original appearance of your jewelry.

Using Acetone

Acetone is a common solvent that can be found in most drug stores or hardware stores. This method is more straightforward than the abrasive pad approach and can be used for smaller jewelry pieces. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Prepare a bowl of acetone: Fill a bowl with enough acetone to submerge the jewelry.
  2. Soak the jewelry: Place the gold-plated jewelry in the acetone and let it soak for about 15 minutes. This will weaken the bond between the gold layer and the stainless steel.
  3. Rinse with warm water: After soaking, remove the jewelry from the acetone and rinse it under warm water. The gold layer should come off easily. If there are any stubborn spots, you may need to repeat the process.

Please exercise caution while handling acetone, as it is a flammable substance. Work in a well-ventilated area and avoid contact with your skin or eyes.

Using Nitric Acid and Hydrochloric Acid

Note: This method involves working with dangerous chemicals and should only be attempted by professionals or with proper safety precautions.

Nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, when mixed, form aqua regia, a potent solution that can dissolve gold plating. If you choose this method, take extreme care and follow these guidelines:

  1. Wear protective gear: Before starting, put on gloves, goggles, and protective clothing to safeguard yourself from any accidental spills or splashes.
  2. Prepare the acid solution: In a well-ventilated area, mix nitric acid and hydrochloric acid in a 1:3 ratio to create aqua regia.
  3. Submerge the jewelry: Place the gold-plated jewelry into the acid solution and allow it to sit for a few minutes until the gold plating dissolves.
  4. Neutralize the acid: After removing the gold plating, neutralize the acid solution by adding baking soda or lime. This will ensure the solution is safe for disposal.

Precautions and Safety Measures

When attempting any of these methods, it’s crucial to exercise caution and adhere to safety measures:

  • Always work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling harmful fumes.
  • Use protective gear such as gloves and goggles to shield yourself from any potential hazards.
  • Test a small area of the jewelry first before applying the method to the entire piece to assess its impact.
  • If you feel uncomfortable or unsure about any of the techniques, seek advice or assistance from a professional jeweler or metalworker.


Removing gold plating from stainless steel can be a rewarding process that revitalizes your jewelry’s appearance. From using mildly abrasive pads and toothpaste to employing acetone or acid solutions, the choice of method depends on the size of the jewelry piece and the materials available to you. However, safety should always be a top priority, especially when handling chemical substances like acetone or aqua regia.

By following the outlined steps and precautions, you can successfully restore your gold-plated stainless steel jewelry to its original glory. Always remember to handle chemicals responsibly and seek professional assistance if you are unsure about any aspect of the process.


Is it possible to remove gold plating without damaging the stainless steel?

Yes, it is possible, but the method used and the degree of care applied are crucial in preventing damage to the stainless steel.

Can I use a regular polishing cloth to remove gold plating?

Polishing cloths alone might not be effective in removing gold plating. You may need to combine them with a mild abrasive or toothpaste.

Are there any eco-friendly methods to remove gold plating?

Yes, some eco-friendly methods involve using natural substances like lemon juice or baking soda, but their effectiveness may vary.

Can I remove gold plating from large stainless steel items like watches?

Yes, the methods mentioned in this article can be used for larger items as well. However, be sure to exercise extra caution due to the size of the piece.

Are there professional services available for removing gold plating?

Yes, many jewelry or metalworking professionals offer gold plating removal services if you prefer a safe and expert approach.

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