20% Off LIMITED Winter Sale Ends SOON! Use Promo Code "WINTER" At Checkout. Pieces Are Limited.

by Jesús Zabala - 6 min read

How to Dull Gold Finish

Gold jewelry, renowned for its dazzling shine and glossy characteristics, has always been a must-have in everyone’s jewelry box. However, sometimes, this stunning metal could be desired with a more subdued or aged appearance to reflect or enhance the antique and vintage feel of the pieces. This can ultimately add a touch of uniqueness and character to anyone wearing it and evoke a sense of timelessness and personality. But how to dull gold finish?

Achieving that vintage look on shiny gold jewelry involves careful consideration of methods and techniques to ensure the preservation of each piece’s integrity. Brasive techniques, or even common home items can be used and employed with each demanding precision and mastery. Understanding these processes is crucial to ensure a safe operation and encapsulate beauty and antiquity.

In this article, we’ll elaborate on the gold finishing process and the different types of gold finishes and their characteristics. Explore the different techniques for dulling gold jewelry and discover which one is right for your desired aesthetic.

How to Dull Gold Finish

Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Jacob Lund

Understanding the Gold Finishing Process

Generally, a gold finish is considered to be a thin layer of coated gold that’s plated on top of the surface of jewelry metal. These coatings, whether glossy or vintage, are applied through various techniques and methods. Each of these methods demands careful precision and skill through specific steps to achieve the desired aesthetic.

To better understand this process, here are the different types of gold finishes and their characteristics:

  • Gold-plated jewelry is covered or plated with a thin layer of gold. This method is done through electroplating, where the metal is put into a solution with an electrical current, which causes a thin layer of gold to deposit onto the metal’s surface.
  • Gold-filled jewelry is similar to gold-plating but with a thicker coating layer. At least 5% of the total jewelry weight is gold, making these prices much more durable and hypoallergenic for anyone with skin sensitivities.
  • Gold vermeil jewelry is achieved through the same electroplating process. However, the difference here is that the base metal is sterling silver, and the coating must have a minimum of 2.5 microns of gold plating.
  • Unlike the other gold finishes, solid gold jewelry, this finish is the only one that contains gold mixed with another metal, creating a sturdy and durable alloy.

How to Dull Gold Finish?

So, how to make gold plated jewelry less yellow?

While the above-mentioned finishes may look luxurious and captivating, you might be seeking a more subtle and weathered look. If so, we’ve established a comprehensive guide on how to dull gold jewelry.

Prepare the workspace

Find a safe, controlled environment, clean and well-ventilated area for executing the process. We emphasize a safe and controlled environment for the process as it is imperative to minimize the risk of contaminants or fumes interfering with the finishing process, especially if we’re using chemicals or abrasives.

Gather the necessary materials

The second step is gathering the necessary materials and tools for achieving optimal results. However, these vary depending on the chosen method. For example, abrasive techniques require sandpapers, while chemical methods involve patina solutions and agents.

Clean the gold surface

The third step focuses on cleaning the gold surface, which involves removing dirt, oils, and other residues from the gold piece. This step is critical as any unclean areas may impact the effectiveness and result of the finishing process.

Now that you know the basics and how any finishing process starts, we’ll move on and explain each method of dulling gold finishes for an antique and vintage look.

Method 1: Chemical Patination

Patination refers to the process of using chemicals to develop fading, darkening, or change in color to the surface of metals. Ultimately, applying these chemicals to the surface of the metal will speed up the natural aging process, resulting in a stunning vintage look to any jewelry piece. The dulling of your gold pieces can be customized to your liking depending on the length of time that the chemicals are left on the surface of the metal. This allows a tailored and controlled transformation, giving you the antique feel for a unique and one-of-a-kind look.

There are several ways we apply patination solutions, including:

  • Cold fuming exposes the pieces to a fume or atmosphere, which influences the metal’s surface, resulting in an even aging effect.
  • Painting solutions are applied with a brush or swab and left to dry. However, the application may need to be repeated until the color development is satisfactory.
  • Spray, which is great for maintaining an even or evenly speckled effect on the surface.
  • Immersion refers to a process where the gold piece is immersed in the patination solution.
Chemical Patination

Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Chantal de Bruijne

Method 2: Abrasive Techniques

Another method for a dull gold finish is by utilizing abrasive techniques. While the process may seem difficult, it only involves a few simple and straightforward steps that can achieve your desired antique look.

The first step is selecting the right abrasive materials, which include fine-grade sandpaper or steel wool. Steel wool is a type of thin and flexible wire crafted from very fine strands of steel. Although it’s often used for polishing and cleaning a variety of surfaces, it can also be employed to create a worn, brushed effect on jewelry, especially gold.

Gently rubbing the surface of the hardware in circular motions is the way to go to create the perfect vintage finish. This method is completely customizable as you can focus on certain areas to create a more uneven, realistic, aged look, or you can rub the entire surface for a consistent effect. It’s quick and easy and creates a fairly realistic antique, dull gold finish.

Abrasive Techniques

Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Kwangmoozaa

Method 3: Vinegar and Salt Mixture

The third method is the most accessible and easy way to speed up the natural aging process of your gold jewelry and rock a vintage aesthetic. All you’ll need is just a couple of household staples, including the following:

  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Container
  • Paintbrush
  • Wire brush

Since vinegar is acidic, prolonged exposure to acidic substances can potentially wear the surface of your jewelry. However, adding salt into the mix creates a dilute hydrochloric acid, enhancing the effect even further. That’s why these household staples are the perfect ingredient for an antique masterpiece.

Pour some vinegar into your container, add a pinch of salt, and stir until the salt completely dissolves and creates a consistent mixture. Then, place your gold jewelry into the container and wait for the solution to work. Once you’re satisfied with the colors, take your items out and rinse them under running water. Finally, let them dry thoroughly.

Vinegar and Salt Mixture

Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Veja

Method 4: Heat Treatment

Our last method for dulling gold finish is by employing heat treatments to jewelry, providing a unique and distinctive way to alter and darken the metal’s surface for an antique look. The process involves exposing the gold jewelry to controlled heat, whether by torch or kiln, which changes the structure of the gold, resulting in a more subdued or aged appearance.

The key here is gently heating the metal and gradually increasing the temperature until you notice a dull color while consistently adjusting the heat source to ensure an even effect. However, this method demands careful consideration and precautions since it uses heat. Make sure you wear protective gear to avoid any risk of injury or burns.

Heat Treatment

Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: saruntorn chotchitima


So, how to make gold plated jewelry less yellow and shiny toa achieve a vintage aesthetic?

In conclusion, shiny gold jewelry has long been favored in fashion due to its timeless appeal, luxurious characteristics, and captivating essence. However, lately, there’s been an increasing appreciation for vintage and antique aesthetics characterized by dull gold jewelry finishes. This simple transformation can add a layer of personality and individuality to any look, complementing a range of styles.

Luckily, anyone can easily speed up the process of natural jewelry aging with our 4 simple methods. Whether it’s by chemical patination or abrasive techniques, our team has provided you with everything you need to know on how to dull gold finish.

Jesús  is the founder and designer of JewelryLab. He is the Head of Design and also oversees production, quality control, and precious metal sourcing.