Gold plating over sterling silver?
Q. I have tried gold plating sterling silver before, and have never had luck. I will clean with a sodium hydroxide formula then I will rinse and try to etch with a sulfuric acid etcher and it immediately get a black coating on it. what should I do to gold plate sterling silver? I use a potassium cyanide gold.
A. It is not advisable to directly electroplate pure 24 karat gold over sterling silver. A barrier is needed between these two metals. Thin layers of electroplated gold will diffuse slowly into the sterling silver substrate and eventually will develop a dark green to grey color.
Try polishing the silver surface first with a buffing wheel. Clean it in a ultrasonic cleaner or any neutral solution.( Do not use any strong acid or alkaline solution) . Dry it and give a "bright nickel flash" plating first. Bright nickel flash plating solutions may be purchased from any precious metal plating vendors. adv. One such company is Technic, Inc. of Warwick, Rhode Island. After rinsing and drying, you may now acid gold plate the part successfully on top of the bright nickel surface.Ajit Menon
Rapid City, South Dakota, USA
February 14, 2013
Q. Hi, thank you for this information. Is the nickel coating you recommend here problematic for jewelry wearers who have an allergic reaction to nickel? If so, is there another solution that will create the barrier required for long-lasting 1 micron gold plating on top of sterling silver?
- Gurgaon, Haryana, INDIA
A. Hi. Yes, the nickel can be problematic these days, and is probably forbidden in Europe. White bronze plating (an alloy of three metals) is an accepted substitute, but you probably must buy this as a proprietary solution from a plating process supplier as it is very tricky to formulate and operate white bronze plating baths.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Brick, New Jersey
Q. I am not a jeweler but I have a jewelry/metal question. I received some sterling silver earrings as a gift, but I am allergic to them. Is there any way to plate the posts and backs of these earrings in gold so I will be able to wear them? If so, where can I go for this and is it worth it to do so? I like the earrings quite a bit and don't want to have to return the gift.Christine Guarino
non-jeweler - New Paltz, New York
A. Sure, they can be gold plated. There might be a gold plater near where you live, or you could check with jewelers or better department stores. they sometimes have contacts with plating shops which will do consumer goods.
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF|
- Spartanburg, South Carolina
A. If you like the look of the sterling silver, but are allergic to the metal the best thing to do is buy the plastic sleeves that fit over the posts and the plastic earring back. a set of six sleeves and backs can be purchased at your local department store (example: Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target, etc.)for under $5. I have the same problem and they work for me.Char Roberts
- Irvine, California
August 12, 2009
Q. I am trying to gold plate a sterling silver round dome plate 136.0mm in diameter by 0.5 mm in thickness. It covers a gold plated chalice. Should it be nickel plated before the gold plating? The solution I plan to use is Clean Earth 24kt. No. 45.216 Our Plating unit is a Riogrande Midas 335.048 up to 6.0 Volts. Any suggestions?Charles Smith
- Charlotte, North Carolina
August 13, 2009
A. Hi, Charles. The gold and silver will tend to diffuse together, so it is best to have a layer of nickel plating between them (or white bronze if this is going to Europe). See letter 52625 for more info on the diffusion issue. Good luck.
Clean Earth Cyanide-free Gold Plating Solution
July 24, 2013
I wanted to gold plate silver jewelry. I am looking for solution to gold plate silver jewelry.
After lots of research on internet I found that there should be barrier between silver and plated gold else plated gold fade away in few months. Even if we do very thick gold plating on silver then also it will fade away eventually.
To avoid this we may need to plate silver first with Copper or nickel or white bronze etc. White bronze is advisable compared to others I think.
I am looking for complete solution/kit to gold plate silver jewelry which also take care of barrier coating of white bronze(or any which is not allergic) on silver before gold plating. Could you please provide details on the solution which I am looking for or details of any other related product which can do similar task.
I wanted to gold plated silver jewelry with professional finish and should last for at least 3 years.
^- Privately contact this inquirer -^
July 30, 2013
A. Hello Himanshu. If you have the patience for a careful search, the topic of durable yet affordable gold plating has been covered in detail many times on these pages. But it is difficult to get a consensus for many reasons, including: some people are satisfied with a gold "look", while others demand real gold; PVD coatings are very economical in high volume but prohibitive in low volume; electrocoating is economical in medium volume but not practical for custom onesy-twosies.
But to summarize in a single paragraph: thick gold plating would easily do it -- gold plated pocket watches have lasted a century -- but it is considered far too expensive today. So if you do not want to put on enough gold to last three years, you must either replace some or all of the gold with a titanium nitride or similar PVD coating (which will only be practical at high volume), or you must clear coat it.
I suspect from my reading here, but do not know from personal experience, that white bronze plating, followed by "micron gold" (gold plating of thickness 1 µ / 40 microinch), followed by a good clearcoat (preferably e-coating, but UV hardened coating if volume is too low) would be considered good quality for costume (imitation) jewelry. It might last 3 years of occasional (not every day) use. Good luck.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Brick, New Jersey