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Maintaining Your Gold Plated Jewelry

Before electroplating, you had to spend a fortune on solid gold jewelry to get your bling. Thanks to the advent of electroplating, however, people can wear jewelry with an outer layer of gold surrounding a cheaper base metal (such as brass or copper). Most people can’t tell the difference between solid gold and gold-plated jewelry, and you don’t have to break the bank to look great.

Maintaining Gold Plated Jewelry

(Pixabay / nuzree)

The designs and quality of gold plated jewelry are continuously improving. Manufacturers are applying new techniques in plating to make this jewelry look better than ever. In fact, even experts can’t tell the difference between some of today’s gold-plated jewelry and the real thing. New technologies are also enabling the gold plating to last longer so that this jewelry can stay lustrous for decades.

Proper Care

Even though manufacturing technologies are improving, though, you still need to make an effort on the home front to keep your jewelry looking nice for the long run. Your gold plated jewelry has several layers of real gold coating the underlying base metal. Unfortunately, these layers are susceptible to scratches and nicks. If you are doing anything that could compromise your jewelry, such as cleaning, working on your car, or lifting weights with a gold-plated ring, remove the jewelry first.

Cleaning

It’s also important that you clean your gold plated jewelry from time to time. These pieces of jewelry come in contact with the sweat from your skin, perfume, lotion, and more. All of these elements can take a toll on your jewelry and shorten its lifespan.

To wash your jewelry and free it of accumulated oils, use warm water and mild soap. Clean the nooks and contours of your jewelry using a soft toothbrush that you move in a gentle, circular motion. Toothpaste may also be used but choose a gentle type without any abrasives or whitening agents. Avoid rubbing too hard as this may chip off some of the plating. WD-40 is an alternative cleaning agent for gold plated jewelry because it is tough on dirt and grime. Avoid using harsh metal cleaners on gold plated jewelry. These abrasive cleaners will only wear away the thin layers of gold and reveal the base metal.

Proper Storage

The way that you store your jewelry also has an effect on its quality. Keep each item in its original box or wrapped in soft paper, and store it in a jewelry box with a cushioned interior.

Re-plating and Restoring Plated Jewelry

Over time, plated jewelry may become tarnished and worn in spots. If this happens, contact your local jeweler to get it repaired and re-plated. Make sure to choose an experienced jeweler for restoration work. Taking your jewelry in for an occasional “tune up” will breathe new life and luster into it and keep it looking dazzling for many years to come.

Are You Allergic to Nickel?

One out of five people in the U.S. has an allergy to something. The most common allergy triggers include pollen, dust, mold, pet dander, and food. Fortunately for most allergy sufferers, there’s relief in the form of allergy medications or allergy immunotherapy (either through allergy shots or sublingual allergy drops).

Allergic to Nickel

(Pixabay / solart)

Other forms of allergy cannot be treated, and that includes nickel allergy. Nickel allergy is caused by exposure to the chemical element nickel. The resulting allergic dermatitis is not life-threatening or contagious, but it can be very unpleasant. Nickel allergy is usually associated with jewelry because nickel is often found in many earrings, necklaces, and other pieces of jewelry. However, nickel can also be found in coins, watches, belt buckles, cell phones, eyeglass frames, and even soap.

Symptoms of Nickel Allergy

People of all ages may show signs of nickel allergy after being exposed once, or even after prolonged exposure, to objects or substances containing nickel. Nickel allergy can lead to contact dermatitis, which can be maddeningly itchy and uncomfortable.

There are medications to reduce the symptoms of nickel allergy, but once a person has developed this allergy, he or she will always be sensitive to nickel, and it is best to avoid any contact with it in the future. Nickel allergy symptoms can become visible immediately or a few days after the first exposure. They can subside quickly or, in some cases, last for up to two to four weeks. During this period, you should avoid exposure to the source that triggered the allergy.

Some common symptoms of this allergy include:

  • Skin redness
  • Slight to severe itching of the affected area
  • Rashes
  • Blisters
  • Dry skin patches

Managing Nickel Allergy

Even though nickel allergy cannot be cured, avoiding contact with the trigger will allow symptoms to clear up. In the meantime, you can apply lotions, oatmeal bath, and topical steroid creams to lessen inflammation of affected areas. Antihistamines can also be taken orally to block the substance that the immune system releases to “fight off” the allergen. There are many kinds of antihistamines, and patients may consult a doctor for the medication that will work best.

Corticosteroids can also be taken to subdue inflammation of severe contact dermatitis. Patients can either take oral medications or intramuscular injections.

If you love jewelry but have a nickel allergy, there are alternatives. Look for pieces made from stainless steel or at least 18-karat gold or sterling silver. You may be able to get away with wearing nickel earrings if you use plastic covers.

Thinking about Starting a Barrel Plating Business?

Barrel plating is an electroplating process that accommodates items to be plated in bulk. The items are placed in a barrel, which is usually made of polypropylene. The barrel contains center bars that conduct the electrical current. It circles around while immersed in the plating solution. This allows the components to accrue an even layer of a coating application as they tumble about freely.

Starting a Barrel Plating Business

(Freeimages / florian krebber)

Another common way to coat components is rack plating. With this method, small items are attached to a metal rack to transfer electric current from the anode. The problem with rack plating is that for jobs that involve a lot of small parts, it doesn’t present the same time and money savings as barrel plating nor does it provide the uniform coating.

The most common plating finishes used in the barrel plating process are nickel, silver, and tin. These are usually applied for small electrical items, electronic connectors, bolts, nuts, washers and screws, and other small hardware parts.

A Popular Choice

Many industries choose barrel plating over other electroplating methods because it can save both time and money. It is particularly popular for medical devices, automotive parts, electronics components, oil and gas-related equipment, and building and structural products. It should be noted, though, that the parts need to be pretty durable to weather barrel plating. This method is not recommended for plating delicate or intricate parts that could get damaged in the process.

Benefits of Barrel Plating

In addition to its ability to electroplate a number of small items in not much time, here are a few other advantages of barrel plating.

  • The whole electroplating process can be done in a single vessel. This includes the cleaning, rinsing, and sealing, leading to better handling and efficiency.
  • Different parts can be processed in the same barrel as long as they fit into the barrel.
  • Compared with rack plating, the cascading motion of the continuous barrel rotation and the contact between the parts allows for a more consistent finish.

If you are interested in starting a barrel plating business, you can get started for significantly less money than you can with other types of plating. Barrel plating uses standard equipment without the need for special fixtures or extra equipment. You will save money and can then pass the savings on to your customers.

What is Fire Gilding?

Electroplating revolutionized technology and plays an indispensable role in our daily lives. It facilitates cheap jewelry, modern computer parts, kitchen appliances, the inner workings of car engines, and much more.

What is Fire Gilding

(Pixabay / Amber_Avalona)

Electroplating was developed in the early 1800s. Before this, other processes were used to coat a base substance with metal. In the absence of electroplating, these methods were all humanity had to accomplish certain tasks, but they were often inefficient and even dangerous. Here’s a look at one of these methods known as fire gilding.

Before Electroplating

Fire gilding is a process that utilizes fire to coat base metals with gold. It sounds like something straight out of a wizard’s book, but it involved more science than magic. This method was used in China before the 4th Century B.C. In Europe, the method became popular in the 2nd Century A.D.

Fire gilding was a solution that allowed people to coat objects with precious metals such as gold and silver. The challenge was how to get these metals into a liquid form that would adhere evenly to a base metal, without melting the base metal.

Fire and Mercury

Fire gilding relied on mercury in combination with the desired finishing metal. At room temperature, mercury is actually a liquid, unlike gold and silver. When combined with mercury, gold and silver actually melt into a liquid form that spreads much like softened butter. This compound can then be used to cover a substrate.

Fire enters into the equation when the item is fully covered. The fire can boil the mercury off, leaving a solid coating of gold or silver. Mercury boils off at around 357º Celsius, which may sound high but is a relatively easy threshold to achieve.

You can probably guess why fire gilding is no longer used: mercury. Even though mercury proved helpful in electroplating, it caused an untold amount of health problems. When inhaled, mercury fumes can be poisonous and fatal. Electroplating was a welcome invention, accomplishing the same thing as fire gilding without the perils.

How to Pick the Best Diamond for Your Budget

If you are involved with gold plating jewelry, you are undoubtedly familiar with the different types of gold, whether it be 14, 18, or 24-karat. While a karat is a measure of gold purity, a carat is something different altogether. Though the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, a karat is a standard for gold, and a carat is a standard for diamonds.

How to Pick the Best Diamond for Your Budget

(Pixabay / kakashi7321)

A diamond’s value is determined, in part, by its carat. Carat is the term used to measure the diamond’s total mass. It is just one of the four factors used to measure the integrity of a diamond, also known as the four C’s.

The Four C’s of Diamonds

  • Carat. A carat equals 200 mg. The term carat can be applied to many gemstones, not just diamonds. Note that a diamond’s carat is different than its size. A high-carat diamond may actually look smaller if it has been cut poorly.
  • Cut. Cut is the most important of the four C’s. A good cut is the difference between a beautiful, sparkly gem and one that lacks “brilliance and fire” (terms used by jewelers to describe a diamond’s luster). As mentioned above, if a diamond is cut too deep, it will appear smaller than it actually is.
  • Color. Color is second only to cut when it comes to diamond standards. The less color a diamond has, the greater its worth. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has developed a letter system for judging diamond color. The highest grade (D) goes to colorless gems. The lowest grade (Z) goes to those that have a yellowish or brownish hue.
  • Clarity. Diamonds can have surface flaws, known as blemishes, and internal flaws, known as inclusions. These flaws are usually very small and can only be seen with a microscope, not the naked eye. Nevertheless, clarity can affect the value of a diamond. Those with the fewest flaws are said to have the greatest clarity.

If diamonds are a bit too pricey for your budget, there are some nice alternatives to consider. Man-made diamonds, which are grown in a laboratory instead of cultivated naturally, tend to cost about 20 percent less. Moissanite is another attractive alternative that is just about as hard as actual diamonds. Moissanite is a crystal that occurs naturally in meteorites and is very brilliant and sparkly. Many people prefer it to cubic zirconia and other diamond look-alikes because of its luster and scratch-resistance. You can purchase moissanite for a small fraction of what you would spend on a diamond.

 

 

 

Do you desired to purchase a diamond but cannot afford it? Do not be sad. There are ways actually that you yourself should assess. For example, try to see the difference of its carat, the cut grade, color and clarity of it. You may find an affordable one that suits your budget. So keep reading our infographics.

How to Pick the Best Diamond for your Budget [infographic]

What You Need to Know Before Buying Rhodium-plated Jewelry

If you have a piece of very shiny jewelry that dates back to the 1930s, then chances are high that you have a piece of rhodium-plated jewelry. There are a number of reasons why rhodium plating is popular for jewelry, but there are also certain caveats that you should know before purchasing rhodium-plated items.

What to Know Before Buying Rhodium-plated Jewelry

(Pixabay / NicholasDeloitteMedia)

Rhodium and its Properties

Rhodium is a silvery-white, hard, and corrosion-resistant metal. It is very shiny and reflects up to 80 percent of light. Rhodium gives off one of the best sheens achievable, making it a very popular metal for jewelry. Rhodium is very rare as it is never found as a single mineral. Rather, it is cultivated in very small quantities within nickel and platinum ores. The production rate of the metal globally is roughly 30 tons yearly, which is actually very small compared to other metals. Copper, for example, is produced at a rate of 20 million metric tons per year. Aluminum comes in at 63 million metric tons. Combine this scarcity with the huge demand for rhodium and its high-shine appearance, and you can see why rhodium is the world's most expensive precious metal. In fact, it beats out both gold and silver by a huge margin.

Rhodium has been used as a coating for jewelry and silverware since the 1930s. It was also used as a plating for cigarette lighters and writing instruments during that time. One of the many companies that used rhodium plating was the Ronson Lighter Company, which produced many art-deco style items in the 30s.

Rhodium Pros and Cons

Like all metals, rhodium presents both advantages and disadvantages. One of the biggest pros of plating jewelry and other items with rhodium is the incredible luster that the metal imparts. Rhodium can create stunning pieces of jewelry. Of course, you will have to balance this remarkable sheen with the high price of the rhodium. Remember, though, that while the jewelry may seem very costly in the moment, you’ll be making a valuable investment that could serve you well later.

Another thing that you should note about rhodium plating is that since it is a coating on the surface of an object, it can wear off over time. The rate at which it wears off is determined by a myriad of factors such as the thickness of the plating, amount of wear and tear the surface is exposed to, etc. This means that you should avoid washing or rubbing the exposed surface to lengthen the life of the jewelry. Remove your rhodium jewelry when going for a swim, as the chlorine in the water can heavily damage the plating. Your care will have a significant bearing on the integrity of your jewelry.

If you are considering rhodium-plated jewelry, weigh the pros and cons, and take your budget into account. If you have the funds for rhodium and take good care of your items, they can last you years into the future, make a stunning statement, and prove to be a valuable investment.

The Story of Electroplating

It was said in olden times that alchemists could turn ordinary metals into gold. This supposed transformation was really a result of electroplating. Electroplating is the process by which a base material can be covered with other metals to diversify its function, improve its durability, or enhance its appearance. Alchemists of old might have started with a copper rod and, through electroplating, coated it in shimmering gold. The copper rod was still at the base of the new iteration, but to the naked eye, it looked like the rod had been completely transformed.

Story of Electroplating

Developments Along the Way

Electroplating is one of mankind’s most impressive inventions. The patent for the process was obtained in 1840. Many people attribute the procedure to Italian inventor Luigi Valentino Brugnatelli who started work on the process decades earlier. Indeed, he was very instrumental in developing electroplating, but many others contributed as well.

Alessandro Volta advanced the technology by inventing the voltaic pile. This is basically a group of voltaic cells arranged in a row and is capable of generating an electrical current. In essence, this was the very first electrical battery. This discovery hastened the realization that metals can be used to transmit electricity. It later became the foundation for electrodeposition, which is a key component in electrical plating.

Building on Volta’s developments, Luigi Brugnatelli discovered the process of electroplating. He successfully coated silver with a thin layer of gold back in 1805. He published his discovery in the Belgian Journal of Physics and Chemistry, but it wasn’t until 1839 that the process was revisited.

John Wright would discover the use of potassium cyanide as the electrolyte solution needed to facilitate the electroplating process. Shortly afterward, George and Henry Elkington would buy Wright’s patents, as well as other silver and gold electroplating patents. The two British cousins would be the first to find commercial success with the process, creating decorative metal and plated silverware to sell. By the mid-1850s, people were applying the science to jewelry, creating electroplated adornments that were far more economical than jewelry made of solid gold and silver.

Today, the electroplating process continues to become faster and more efficient and fuels the electronics industry. So many of the devices and appliances that make our lives easier and more efficient are made possible due to electroplating. As you power up our laptop, rev up our automobile, or pull a cold drink out of the refrigerator, it’s easy to take for granted the processes that make these conveniences possible. Though rarely considered on a daily basis by the general public, electroplating is at the heart of modern day life.

What You Should Know about Copper Plating

Archeological digs have revealed that copper was part of the earliest civilizations. It has been used for a variety of purposes throughout time, ranging from jewelry to sculptures to work tools to cutlery.

What to Know about Copper Plating

(Pixabay / sferrario1968)

Copper is believed to be among the first metals discovered and used by men, and it’s no wonder that humans took a shine to the element. Copper is malleable and soft and flexible yet durable. These qualities make copper an extremely accessible and useful material for many applications.

Copper for Electroplating

Today, copper is widely used in electroplating, which entails using electricity to apply a very thin layer of copper onto another metal or plastic surface. Copper electroplating is a method used widely in industries, mainly to protect other metals from corrosion. It is frequently used as an under-layer for further electroplating because of its smooth and uniform coverage. Copper electroplating is also used to prior to soldering, especially in the electronics and aerospace industries.

The discovery of copper in electroplating has helped industries advance in their day-to-day operations. It’s hard to imagine a world without copper-plated machines or objects.

Let’s take a look at some of the various applications of copper plating:

  • Because copper is such a great conductor, it works well in conjunction with Radio Frequency Interference and Electro-Magnetic Interference.
  • Copper is often used as an underlay for silver or nickel plating applications because it helps them bond better than they would otherwise.
  • Copper is used in the medical field because it is very resistant to bacteria.
  • Copper is used to smooth out surface imperfections and facilitate a desirable finish in aluminum wheels.
  • Copper electroplating can breathe new life into worn-out pots and pans.
  • Today, coins are made of steel with an added layer of copper because it is easier and cheaper to plate steel than to make solid copper coins.
  • Lastly, of course, copper can improve the appearance of metal and plastic items.

Copper Reacts to Other Minerals

Copper is a very appropriate element for electroplating in many applications, but there are also limitations on its use because of some specific properties of the metal. Copper, being an active metal, cannot be used for direct plating with iron without an initial application of a nickel base coat. When the base coat dries, the copper coating is added, which makes the metal stronger and prepares it for a variety of uses.

Additionally, the use of cyanide solution in conjunction with the copper solution may be necessary to ensure maximum adhesiveness. However, cyanide, being highly toxic, requires a significant amount of caution during the plating process. Copper is also naturally dull in color, which means that it requires additional steps to create that signature bright finish.

The Different Applications of Electroplating

Electroplating is the process of coating a surface with a thin layer of metal. The negatively charged object to be plated is submerged into a solution of positively charged metal ions. Plating results when the positively charged ions meet the negatively charged object, and they become neutral. Since the ions are no longer charged, they settle down in a very thin coat on the object being plated.

Different Applications of Electroplating

Electroplating is an extra step that helps extend the life of an object or accessory. It coats the object to protect it from dust or exposure to the elements, but there are so many more reasons to electroplate different items. Here are just a few of them:

  • Prevent corrosion - Electroplating is one way to ward off corrosion, especially when the metals being plated are naturally corrosive. Covering the corrosive metal with a thin layer of non-corrosive metal will prevent corrosion of the surface. One example of this is when cheaper metal jewelry is coated in 10k gold, keeping it from turning green after being worn for an extended period of time.
  • Improve the aesthetics - Electroplating is commonly used in jewelry where cheaper metals are coated with gold and other high-value metals to make them look pristine and expensive.
  • Increase electrical conductivity - Gold and silver are good conductors of electricity, but they are too pricey too fill electronics with. Integrated circuits in computers and other electronic devices are made of cheaper metals that do not conduct electricity effectively. To improve their conductivity, the parts are coated with a thin layer of gold or silver.
  • Commercial application - Various car parts are made of non-smooth metals. These parts are plated with a thin coat of chromium, or other shiny metal, in order to make them look smooth and polished. When buffed, this plating gives off a high shine that is appealing to car fans.
  • Protect against radiation - Many metals do not have inherent protection from radiation, abrasion, and other natural occurrences. To make up for this, these metals are coated with a thin layer of protected metal as additional defense against these natural phenomena. The extra coating protects the metals inside and prevents damage.
  • Reduce friction - Some metals are prone to too much friction when they come in contact with each other. To reduce the amount of resistance, a thin layer of a different metal is added to one or both of the parts. The coating acts as a buffer and prevents metals from rubbing against one another. This is essential in machine work or factories where metals are widely used in production.

Electroplating adds beauty, resistance, and durability to metals and is used in countless applications in today’s world.

DIY Guide for Gold Plating at Home

Gold plating is the process of adding a thin layer of gold onto the surface of another type of metal. Gold plating is done to make jewelry that is made of inferior metal look like gold.

DIY Guide for Gold Plating at Home

(Pixabay / firemystery)

Gold plating can be done at home because it is a simple technique if you have the proper tools and knowledge. The first step is to purchase a complete gold plating kit. It usually includes a liquid gold solution, a source of electricity, and a plating wand that links to the electricity source. This wand is essential for bonding the gold. You can choose the type of gold-plating solution to use: 14-karat, 18-karat, or 24-karat.

Prepare the Surface

First, you will need to clean the surface of the metal to be plated and remove all the dirt and oil particles. The surface to be plated can be stripped, polished, sandblasted, or tumbled in order to get rid of all of the dirt. This cleaning can be accomplished by using solvents, abrasive materials, or by acid etching. You must prepare the surface properly, or you could contaminate the tank or risk having an incomplete or poor adherence.

Clean Thoroughly

After preparing the surface to be plated, it must be cleaned, usually using electrocleaning, steaming, or ultrasonic cleaning. This is just a second round of deep cleaning that makes sure no oil or dirt remains. Steam cleaning is a good way of cleaning jewelry pieces with intricate crannies.

Rinse to Remove Cleaners

The piece of jewelry to be gold plated must be rinsed with water to remove any residue of the cleaning agents that were used.

Adhere the Strike Layer

A strike layer (also known as a flash layer) is a very thin layer of nickel-plating that is adhered to the original metal piece. The nickel layer will improve the bond between the underlying surface and the gold. It also prevents contaminants from spoiling the gold plating tank, and it stops metals from mixing and possibly reacting negatively.

Second Rinse

The piece of jewelry needs to be thoroughly washed with water again to remove any residue of the cleaners.

Apply the Base Coat

This step adds layers of metals such as silver, nickel, and copper. In the final step, gold is deposited on top of the surface.

Final Coat

The piece of jewelry is submerged into the plating solution to attract the gold ions or any final metal that will show on the surface of the jewelry. Different metals require different temperatures and voltages.

The jewelry pieces to be plated are hung from a cathode bar. This is a fancy name for a rod with a negative electric charge running through it. Next, they are submerged in the tank of gold-plating solution. which is positively charged. The negatively charged pieces of jewelry will attract the gold ions that are positively charged, getting plated in the process.

Final Rinse

Finally, the plated jewelry is rinsed in water and hung to dry, making sure that the different pieces do not touch each other.

Gold plating is an exciting pursuit that combines both science and art. Once people start, they often find that they become addicted to this rewarding habit.

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