The Best Tarnish-Free ‘Gold’ Jewellery For Under £40

Photo Courtesy Of Nevaeh
It's a tale as old as time: person sees gold ring, person buys gold ring, person wears ring once, person's finger turns green and the ring, once so shiny and pretty, turns a dull silver. Or brassy. Or another colour that you definitely didn't picture yourself sporting.
Unfortunately, pretty as it is, real gold jewellery that won't stain your skin green is expensive and out of many people's price bracket. And while here at R29 we're very into the concept of saving up your money to buy investment pieces you will wear forever, the term 'costume jewellery' was invented for a reason and sometimes an outfit requires a larger-than-life, gold cocktail ring on your finger.
Even gold-plated silver jewellery isn't immune to tarnish. Hands up who's bitten the bullet and bought some nice gold-plated jewellery from the next price bracket up, only for the gold plating to rub off after just a few months, leaving you with an uneven silvery glow?
Now, though, there's a new type of plating that means affordable, gold-coloured jewellery won't tarnish. Over the past few years, a raft of pandemic-spawned, tarnish-free 'gold' jewellery stores headed up by young women have sprung up on Instagram. But just how tarnish-free is their tarnish-free jewellery?
Olivia Jenkins, a 24-year-old from Cardiff, started her jewellery company D. Louise in lockdown. "I used to get so frustrated with my jewellery turning my skin green, especially when I would spend so much money on it," she tells R29. After a lot of research, she found out about a new coating process that appeared to be the answer to her (and our) prayers. "I found that stainless steel jewellery ticked the boxes. Every piece from my collection uses 361L stainless steel, which is a highly durable, recyclable metal. Its properties mean that it does not oxidise or rust, is hypoallergenic, doesn’t scratch easily and will not tarnish." Her pieces go through a PVD (physical vapour deposition) gold-coating process. "This new, modern way of plating is ten times thicker than standard gold plating, is environmentally friendly and uses a vacuum coating process, resulting in an extremely durable finish."
A nice added bonus of using stainless steel is its eco-credentials. "All our jewellery is 100% recyclable," she explains. "Stainless steel is made up of chromium, nickel and molybdenum which can easily be separated from other materials, making the recycling process easy. The coating process that the jewellery goes through is 100% environmentally friendly. PVD plating utilises a titanium nitride that provides an extremely durable and tough-wearing coating. It does not use cyanide or create any hazardous waste and does not hinder the recycling process. Traditional methods of gold plating produce harsh chemicals and when not disposed of correctly can cause damaging effects to the environment and the people using them."
Not all these new, tarnish-free, waterproof gold jewellery stores use the PVD method but it is increasingly popular, mainly because it works. Olivia's pieces actually come with a lifetime guarantee.
Although silver jewellery has been making a comeback in line with our return to Y2K fashion, there's something enduring about gold jewellery that means it'll never really go away. "I think that it means you love a little bit of luxury in everyday life!" says Olivia. "For me when I wear my gold jewellery I feel so dressed up and think it makes my outfit so much more put together."
Click through to find R29's picks of the best non-tarnish, waterproof 'gold' jewellers.
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