Gold Plating Jewelry
Gold plating on jewelry allows you to have an item with the beautiful look of gold without having the entire item made of solid gold. With gold being so precious, having a piece of jewelry made of solid gold is not an option for many people. The amazing thing about gold plating is you can impart all the qualities of gold into a piece without the huge cost.
Tarnish Resistance: Gold does not tarnish, rust, or corrode and is hypoallergenic. Due to these great qualities, many people choose to coat items that otherwise may become problematic if exposed to conditions that may damage the item or cause an allergic reaction. In the case of costume jewelry or jewelry that is made of brass, bronze, silver, copper, nickel etc., gold plating will keep the piece from turning your finger green and most importantly keeps the piece from quickly degrading from corrosion. Brass, for instance, will quickly corrode when it comes in contact with our sweat. Our sweat contains salt, (sodium chloride), which can quickly tarnish brass within days after touching it. If it is gold plated correctly, this issue is completely eliminated.
Increasing Value: Most jewelry makers and artists choose to make their pieces out of brass, bronze, silver, or copper as it is affordable and easy to work with. As we have covered in the "Tarnish Resistance" section above, this is a problem especially when attempting to make a classy, long-lasting piece. Selling a piece made of one of these metals at a high price is quite difficult because of the issues we mentioned regarding tarnishing. Once gold is applied, even if it is a relatively thin layer of gold plating, the entire value of the piece greatly increases. An example: we have a customer who buys Italian silver necklaces for $20 per piece, they then gold plate these pieces with 24 Karat gold and resell them for $200 per necklace. You may wonder, well how much gold was actually applied? The answer is, only a few dollars worth. A one liter bottle of our 24K Bright Gold Solution contains 2g of fine gold. One gram of fine gold will plate approximately 160 square inches of area to a thickness of 1/2 micron, (0.00002" or 20 micro-inches). This means you can plate around 160 rings or pendants that have about one square inch of area for $205. In other words, it works out to be about $1.28 to gold plate a ring or pendant this size.
Diversifying Your Selections: Having the ability to electroplate items is special. Not many have the know-how or capability to do so. With kits, solution, and support like we offer, it opens the door to a whole new world of possibilities. Lets say you make pendants or rings out of silver - if you have a kit like the JewelMaster Pro HD, you could offer your same ring in multiple different finishes. You could offer 24k, 18k, 14k, Rose Gold, Silver etc. Everyone has different preferences about the color they want within a certain style. Having this ability is priceless for many jewelers and artists alike.
Longevity: Many people want to know, "How long will it last?" There are three main factors that affect how long gold plating will last.
- The type of gold applied.
- The thickness of the gold plate.
- How much wear and tear it gets.
Types of Gold: Gold is a soft metal by nature. However, there are "hardened" gold deposits and "soft" gold deposits. Hardened gold is hardened by adding grain modifiers and hardening agents such as cobalt. The grain modifiers in a hardened gold will disrupt the lattice formation of the gold crystals as they form on the surface. This disruption allows for the crystals to be much more tightly packed and therefore makes for a "harder" deposit The "Knoop hardness" of a hardened gold is 3-5 times harder than that of a "soft" gold. When plating jewelry, hardened gold should always be used. Soft "Pure" Gold is typically used in scientific plating applications, such as fuel cells, where the gold needs to be applied relatively thick and needs to be softer, resist higher temperatures, or cannot have any contaminants. Soft (Pure) Gold has a 99.99%+ minimum purity whereas hardened gold has 99.97%+ minimum purity - that .02% can be very important in some applications.
Thickness: Gold becomes opaque within seconds of plating, right around a thickness of 2-3 micro-inches. If you were to stop plating as soon as the item becomes opaque, you would be left with an extremely thin layer of gold that will wear off quickly - probably within a week or so. However, if you leave a piece in our 24K Bright Gold for 5.5 minutes you will have a layer that is ~40 micro-inches thick. 40 micro-inches (1 micron) is a relatively thick layer of gold plating and will last many years if not a lifetime if taken care of correctly. Our 24K Bright Gold is capable of plating up to 100 micro-inches (2.5 microns) in one contiguous layer. This thickness will last a lifetime if not abrasively removed.
Wear and Tear: Due to the soft nature of gold it is susceptible to scratching and abrasion. For this reason we suggest you never polish gold with an abrasive polish. If an item is being handled heavily, such as a ring that is being slid on and off of a finger daily, it is advised that the plating should be applied on the higher end of the thickness scale. Whenever we receive jewelry items to be plated we always apply at least 40 micro-inches (1 micron) to ensure a long-lasting plate for the customer. 20 micro-inches is the minimum thickness of gold plating for jewelry items to be sold as "gold plated" in the United States under the US Federal Trade Commission standards. Unfortunately many items from China and other unregulated countries may have layers as thin as 3-5 micro-inches.
Gold Plating Demonstrated:
These demonstrations were performed using our "JewelMaster Pro HD Kit"