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Gold plating is an electrochemical process by which a thin layer of gold is deposited on the surface of another metal. An electric current draws gold ions, which are positively charged, through a gold bath solution, allowing them to adhere to the negatively charged piece of metal. Gold plating is commonly done on pieces of old or faded jewelry to brighten their appearance.

Step-by-Step Guide to Gold Plating

(Pixabay / karnbadjatia)

There are different gold plating kits depending on the size of the jewelry or product that you will be working with. Large pieces will require a brush plating kit while smaller items could use an immersion plating kit.

Once you have determined the type of gold plating kit that you need, you can contact a gold plating service or manufacturer to purchase the kit. The kit usually includes an electrical supply, a plating wand or brush, and a liquid gold solution. Depending on the material you will be plating, you might need additional solutions and accessories.

Here are the steps for gold plating:

  • Preparation – The surface to be plated must be free of any dirt or oil. Stripping, polishing, tumbling, sandblasting, and others procedures could prepare the surface.
  • Cleansing and rinsing – The surface must be subjected to electrocleaning, steaming, or ultrasonic cleaning. This is the deeper stage of cleansing that ensures that the surface is ready for the next step. The piece will then be rinsed with water to remove any residue from the purifying agents.
  • Strike layer – A buffer layer, usually of nickel, is then applied to the metal to be plated. This will improve the bonding between the plating material and substrate.
  • Additional rinsing – After the strike layer is added, the piece will be rinsed yet again.
  • Base coating – Additional layers of coating will be added to the base material. There are usually several layers of plating (typically copper, nickel and gold) on one particular piece.
  • Final coating – Under carefully controlled temperature and voltage, the piece is submerged into the plating solution to attract gold ions to the surface. Different temperatures and voltages are required for different types of metal.
  • Final rinse – The piece will be rinsed with water and hung to dry after the final coating.

If you are not satisfied with the result of the gold plating procedure, it may be necessary to repeat the process.