What is Jewelry plating?
Plated jewelry is a thin coating of metal is applied over a piece of jewelry in order to give it another color. Plating can be applied to newly-created pieces of jewelry or reapplied to older pieces where the plating has become dull or worn.
Most plating is done by a chemical process known as electroplating. The item of jewelry is placed in a tank containing a chemical solution and a block of the plating metal. By passing an electric current through the solution, a specific amount of the metal is transferred onto the jewelry.
Other, less widely used, ways of applying plating to metal are:
- brush plating, where electroplating is applied with a brush
- gilding with thin sheets of gold, known as gold leaf.
Most jewelry plating is either silver or gold. Gold plating can be done using 18 or 24 carat gold.
White gold is an alloy of gold and another white metal. It can look grey, so it is often plated in rhodium to give it a bright white look. Plating can also be done in other gold, such as pink or rose.
Plating can also be done with other metal, including platinum, palladium, nickel, copper and brass. The choice of plating metal depends on the item and on the effect required. Platinum, for example, is very hard and scratch-resistant. Palladium is resistant to tarnishing.
Plating can be carried out to different thicknesses, depending on the piece and the customer’s requirements. The plating can then be finished to give different effects.
It is also possible to plate many other materials as well such as plastics and ceramics and even organic items like shells.
Plating non-metal surfaces is more complicated. First conductive paint is applied to the object, and then copper plating, before the precious metal plating can be done.
Electroforming is similar to electroplating, but deposits a thicker layer of plate onto the object. Unlike electroplating, it can be applied direct to non-metal objects. It can be used to make delicate objects rigid - leaves, for example.