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Gold Plating Problems with Jewelry, How to make gold plating last longer? PVD?

  

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Q. Hello,
We import gold plated jewelry from various different countries including, China, India.

The gold plated jewelry usually doesn't last long and will tarnish within 12 months, Usually using 1 micron gold plating.

We want our jewelry to last longer, for at least 3 years wearing it everyday. I have heard about PVD process and using titanium nitrides, I have asked many manufactures about PVD on jewelry and they tell me its not suitable for jewelry as it doesn't give the right gold color for jewelry, they tell me its too bright and mainly used on door handles etc but not for jewelry.

Is this correct? Does anyone know of a manufacture that can do PVD Titanium nitrides over brass/copper for jewelry or any other suggestions for increasing the wearability/durability without a too heavy price tag?

Mat Johnson
Jewelry - Australia

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A. Hello, Mat. Actually, I think it is a fairly well developed technology to combine titanium nitriding PVD processing and gold plating to provide a good gold color and a wear resistant surface. The thing is, it is rather inexpensive for a very small shop to do gold plating (especially if they don't have environmental regulators monitoring them), but a PVD vacuum chamber is major capital equipment. So you won't often find minuscule operations offering titanium nitride assisted gold plating.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey

A User's Guide to Vacuum Technology


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A. Ted is exactly right. The technology for using titanium nitride and gold is well tried and tested. The titanium nitride is put down first as a "rough" deposit and then gold electrodeposited into the valleys of the rough surface. This gives a very high amount of gold on the surface, but it is protected by the "peaks" of TiN, so it doesn't wear away too fast.

Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK


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A. Gold is soft, so it wears fairly fast. 1 micron is about enough to give it color. It also depends on what it is plated on. Copper and zinc will migrate thru a coating that thin in a few weeks.
You get what you pay for sometimes. Cheap will be cheap in most countries.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

misc. plating stuff
For Sale cheap



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Q. Thanks for your reply, I wonder where I can find a suitable manufacturer to do the PVD Titanium Nitrides combined with gold electroplating?

Best Regards,

Mat Johnson
Jewellery - Australia
outdated

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Ed. note: the site's supporting advertisers will respond in private to the sourcing issues.


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A. One micron of gold should give a reasonable life for costume jewelry. Most costume jewelry is plated with a 'flash' of gold which is much less than a micron. Check the thickness; are you getting what you paid for?
Tarnish of thin gold deposits is associated with porosity or diffusion of the base coat. It is usual to apply an intermediate layer. In industrial applications this is usually nickel but some people are sensitive and can develop a form of dermatitis (do they never take their jewelry off?). Palladium/nickel is commonly used. Your supplier should know this.

P.S. 1 micron of gold cannot be accurately measured by microsection. You will need XRF - talk to a local plating house.

Geoff Smith
Hampshire, England



May 4, 2011

Q. I am very curious about the use of titanium nitride underneath gold plating for costume jewelry. I have customers who are using anywhere from 3-5 mils to 6-8 mils gold, often with e-coating on top.

Anyone familiar with the cost of e-coating and titanium nitride who can provide me with a comparison in cost? would replacing e-coat with titanium nitride be cost neutral? would it be a more effective option?

Also, does the color of titanium nitride work only with a shiny gold finish? Some of our customers use an oxidized or even matte gold. If the gold plating were to wear off, would the titanium nitride beneath be very obviously different in color?

Thank you in advance!

Rebecca Noveck
- New York, New York, USA

Unique Colors for Gold

June 21, 2011

Q. Yeah, I have the same question. My jewelry coming from many sources, so I want to have a unique color of 18k jewelry in my show room. Could you please to share with me where I could buy the tools and material to do that?

Thank you very much!

Huan Nguyen
- HCMC, Vietnam

November 8, 2011

A. As per the series of experiments conducted by our company, the durability of depositing gold over titanium nitride would be as much as that of 1 micron. Sometimes the life term of the product can be 6 months also. To obtain a durability of nearly 3 years, it is recommended to do electrophoretic lacquer.

Amit Jain
- Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

October 2013

A. Hi Rebecca. Ideally, the titanium nitride is, as Trevor tells us, a rough surface with mountain peaks that protect the gold in the valleys from wearing off. Cost comparisons are difficult because non precious materials like TiN and e-coating lacquer are inexpensive, so you're usually looking at capital costs vs. labor costs. The capital cost of gold plating can be very low; jewellers can do it in a beaker with a stirrer on a hotplate. E-coating systems might cost $100,000 for a small setup to $1 million for a large one, and PVD systems cost something like $1 million and more. I believe it is relatively easy to incorporate 'contaminants' into PVD deposits to give a darker look.

Hi Huan. The coloring of gold is an art more than a science, but Al Weisburg's "Gold Plating" chapter in the Metal Finishing Guidebook includes a "Table 1 "that will give you a start on formulations and operating conditions for different colors =>

Regards,

41517
pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey


February 23, 2012appended

Q. I'm a watch case manufacturer and also plater. We own PVD plant to coat ss 304 straps and brass watch cases using arc for TiN plating up to 0.5 or more micron and then followed by sputter 24k Gold plating (0.05 micron) to get gold finish.

I want to reduce the cost of PVD plating due to very high price in GOLD!

My question is can we do electroplating followed by TiN ? Or can we do gold electroplating after TiN and very thin layer or gold or nickel layer in PVD?

Any other suggestions are welcome

Thanks
Bhavin

Bhavin Sorathia
Owner - Rajkot, Gujarat, India

October 2013

A. Hi cousin Bhavin. It is possible to electroplate gold before TiN deposition by PVD. I think, but do not know for sure, that is is also possible to electroplate to gold plate on top of a thin TiN layer. But it is probably more customary to apply the gold via PVD as you say you are doing.

But surely there is something wrong with your figures? 0.05 microns of gold, if even visible, cannot possibly be costly as it is incredibly thin.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey


May 1, 2012

Q. I'm an independent jewelry designer in NYC used to working with gold/silver. I've now created a line of costume jewelry in brass and would like to have them gold plated but have been quoted cost prohibitive prices for "micron plating". What I understand is called "flash plating" is at my price point (~$5-10 per piece) but doesn't last long.

Is there a coating I can apply that will extend the life of the gold plating (to at least 1 year but hopefully more) while maintaining a matte finish?

Hopefully either something I can apply myself (as a layman) or can be inexpensively be done by a professional in the NYC area?

Thanks and regards,

Jon

Jon Silo
- New York

May 4, 2012

A. Hello Jon,
The jewelry industry has their own jargon especially when it comes to electroplating. Micron plating is not a considered a flash plate in Au plating. A micron is about 40 microinches give or take. Flash plating is conventionally anywhere from 3 to 10 microinches. You would be lucky to get 10 from most decorative Au platers. If the Au plating thickness was 1 micron and was alloyed for some hardness your products would last a year and even more. If you can't find a plater to put down that much Au, coatings are available that will not change the appearance of the final finish. Obviously your price to have the items plated / coated will be more expensive. Good Luck.

Mark Baker
Engineering - Mesa, Arizona, USA


July 25, 2012

Q. I would like to know about the gold micron plating which can last at least one year. Can anybody suggest for the same? Thanking you.
Rohan

Rohan Kumar
- Mumbai, India

August 2, 2012

Q. We are importing sterling jewelry charms and would like to offer gold plated silver charms as well. I have been discussing the plating with suppliers but it is difficult to get an actionable answer. I am looking for a suggestion to point me in the right direction with regard to wearability. There is obviously some body contact with the charms. I'd like to offer pieces that will not wear through to the silver - at least for several years of occasional wear. 1 micron of 24k gold has been suggested and that's affordable, the charms are small, but I have not been able to determine what I should buy. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

John Anthony
- Phoenix, Arizona, USA

August 7, 2012

A. Hi, Rohan; Hi, John.
I'm not a jeweler, but since no answers have come so far, I'll provide my understanding, albeit not definitive answers.

Gold has been valued throughout history for its beauty, one aspect of which is that it doesn't tarnish or corrode. For that reason, no lacquer or topcoat is required to keep it bright, as is needed for copper or silver and other non-precious metals. So it has been customary to not topcoat gold or gold plating. That doesn't mean you can't put a clear topcoat on it; but it does mean that it may not be as well received, so you decide whether you will or you won't as a business decision depending pon how you want your jewelry perceived.

If you do topcoat it, with an electrophoretic lacquer for example, the thickness of the gold doesn't matter from a wear standpoint because it is underneath the clearcoat. If you don't clearcoat it, the gold itself will wear and must be thick enough to resist that wear for what you consider an acceptable life. 1 micron is probably sufficient to offer sufficient life for moderately priced jewelry if it sees little wear and no body contact. A ring would receive tremendous wear and body contact, a pin or broach virtually no wear or body contact, a charm would probably depend on the exact design of the bracelet. Until I learn better myself, I don't think I'd do 1 micron without a clearcoat though if I wanted it to last several years.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey


August 29, 2012

A. A trick used by some jewellers is to coat the articles with titanium nitride and then put down a thin coating of gold. The TiN is relatively rough, and the gold fills the cavities (or valleys) as well as the peaks. However, as the gold wears off the peaks, the TiN offers a hard and wear resistant point that protects the gold further down the valley.

Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK


January 31, 2013 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q1. In respect to jewellery items, what is the common understanding of the meaning of the term HARD GOLD PLATING (HGP)? What does HARD actually refer to?

Q2. Also, what are the recommendations for achieving HGP with very strong bonding (that is, won't wear off), when plating silver (925) and brass jewellery items? It seems that a barrier layer is required between the base material and the HGP layer, what is the consensus as to what layers be applied to each of 925 and brass items?

Q3. Does anyone have opinions on the use of Enthone additives and solutions? They seems a reputable supplier, or any other specific brands you have tried and have faith in?

Q4. Any views on the use of e-coating, as a final protective coat over the HGP? Is this necessary and recommended?

Many thanks for anyone sharing their views and experience.

Robert Killeen
Jewellery manufacturer employee - Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

February 9, 2013

A. Hello Robert,
Hard gold plating is a gold plating process whereas the plating solution contains gold salts (Potassium Gold Aurocyanide, conducting salts, buffer salts, and an alloy or brightener. Potassium citrate versions have been common for many years. The gold plating thickness is normally higher than standard "color gold flashes". Whatever the alloy is in conjunction with the gold metal concentration in the bath, determines the color and hardness of the plating deposit. pH and bath temperature play a role as well. Diffusion barrier coatings (between the substrate and the gold plating) vary. White bronze has become popular, palladium is also a good option, but more expensive. As you probably know, nickel had been the most widely used barrier plate in jewelry plating, but over the past 15 - 20 years usage of Nickel has been on a steep decline because of consumer allergies. There are reputable gold plating suppliers out there. This website can satisfy your search for a good supplier. Because jewelry is gold plated you have to expect the deposit to wear off over the years. The wear life will of course be dependent on the piece. Are you plating rings that will be worn daily, or necklaces that will be worn a few times a month. E-coating is an option to extend the wear life, but I am not familiar with possible drawbacks. Good Luck.

Mark Baker
Process Engineer - Mesa, Arizona, USA


February 6, 2013

Q. Hello, please please I need some help!

I'm doing the hardware metal for my handbags (logo, tags, o rings, metal plate) in China. I got the samples on Friday and they looked pretty good to my surprise. The only problem I have is the gold color. I asked them to do a 14k gold plating (they say they use IP plating which is better and more durable than micron plating, is this true?) and when I compared the pieces to the metal hardware that were done here in the USA, the gold color is a little bit lighter then the ones made in USA. I wonder why could this be?
Also, another thing that got to my attention. When I did the metal hardware here in the USA, the people that did it told me that to have the engraving on the metal (like the name of my brand that is engraved on the metal) to polished inside is really hard, so that's why it looked rough on the inside, not polished. But the hardware from China looks amazing on the inside! is completely polished and clean. Does anybody knows why is there such a difference? if there is something that this people in China might be doing differently? And if this is the case will that be compromising the quality of my metal hardware?
Thanks so much

Isabella Galli
- Snowmass Village, Colorado, USA

April 25, 2013

A. Hi Isabella. 14K gold is 10/24 non-gold, and the color depends on those other 10 parts. "Gold coloring" is both an art form and a trade secret for the fastidious: it's not easy to get consistent color, and quite difficult to specify it -- but you can study that topic in plating textbooks. "Gold Plating Technology" has quite a bit of info on coloring =>

I didn't understand your engraving description and problem; sorry.

This is a forum of international camaraderie, so we naturally try to not stand in judgement of anyone's outsourcing choices. Still, the problem is: we receive so many hacking attempts and so much spam from China that we are get exhausted and often must block large swaths of mail from China, so we may inadvertently block the one piece in 300 that isn't spam. So you probably can't expect much help from China; and you really can't expect domestic and other platers to spend their time for free here helping you cut them out of the loop. It's like going to a Chevy dealer and expecting the salesperson to spend her time helping you choose between a Honda and a Toyota. That's probably why you've received no responses in a couple of months. But best of luck.

Regards,

Gold Plating Technology

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey


April 25, 2013

Q. Regarding Plating Cost and Plating Thickness recommendation

Hello,

I am talking to manufacturers in China about fashion jewelry, mainly ear studs, chains, pendants and rings. My market is very price sensitive and I need to consider cost versus benefit closely.

I understand ear studs have less exposure to sweat than rings.

Can anybody give a recommendation for each of those categories - chains worn around the neck, ear studs, pendants and rings - how many microns or fractions thereof you would recommend so that the plating holds for 0.5/1/1.5/2 years under normal usage in a table format for gold, rhodium and black colour plating ?

In addition, I was wondering what the actual cost differential for the plating factory is. The issue I have that I do not know how big the square centimeter surface of a ear stud (sizes 3 to 10 mm), ring, chain etc is depending on common sizes.

For example a table that would tell me that the average 4 mm/5 mm/6 mm ear stud costs x US$ per 0.1 micron of gold/rhodium plating.

I would like to use this when negotiating prices with my manufacturers.

Any help would be highly appreciated.

Another question I am pondering with is whether there are health concerns if the plating wears of and brass or zinc alloy is revealed and gets direct skin contact. Firstly, I cannot even find what exactly "zinc alloy" is versus brass. Are there any EU rules under REACH that mandate a specific minimum plating thickness in microns ?

Many thanks again,

Daniel

Daniel Bihler
- Guangzhou, China
  ^- Privately contact this inquirer -^


April 30, 2013

A. It isn't necessary to know all the costs involved in the manufacturing of the jewelry you are seeking to buy in order to get the best possible price but you will need detailed designs and exact specifications that you can give to multiple manufacturers for quotes. Based on some of your questions I'm guessing you have little experience and you should hire a consultant to help you write up the specifications you will want to use. A word of caution: we regularly receive jewelry items through our customers that have been gold plated in China and do not meet the specifications.

Neil Bell
Red Sky Plating

Albuquerque, New Mexico



May 16, 2013

Q. I AM LOOKING TO DO A CLEAR COAT ON 24K ELECTROPLATED BRASS FAUCETS, SO THAT WE GET SCRATCH RESISTANCE AND LIFE AGAINST CORROSION . BUT THERE SHOULD BE NO ORANGE PEEL WHICH GIVES A PLASTIC LOOK TO THE FAUCET. WE NEED A COATING WHICH KEEPS ORIGINAL METALLIC LOOK OF 24 K ELECTROPLATED GOLD. CAN ANYONE HELP ?

VIBHUTI BARUA
- BHIWADI, RAJASTHAN, INDIA
  ^- Privately contact this inquirer -^


May 16, 2013

A. Hi Vibhuti. Have you tried a 2k automotive clearcoat? I think it will be okay!

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey


May 19, 2013

Q. Hello, I'm wondering what base metal adheres to gold plating best. I've read stainless is a great choice; what about brass, copper, nickel, or aluminum?

Ilene Brody
Education - Somerville, New Jersey, USA

May 20, 2013

A. Hi Ilene. It sounds like you're asking what you should make something out of if you are intend to gold plate it. I think a brass base, followed by nickel plating (or white bronze if jewelry), immediately followed by gold plating would be the best choice. An aluminum base would be the worst choice.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey


May 24, 2013 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Could you please explain me how e-coating works on cheap jewelry?
How the process is made and how can we test if a piece of cheap jewelry has e-coating or not?

Regards

Daniel Oliveira
- Braga, Portugal

May 28, 2013 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Hi,

What is the best way or product to protect gold plated surface so it will last for long time?
I am gold plating jewelry and I want to protect the result.
I tried several finishes but nothing lasts more than a few months. I am looking for at least one year solution if it is possible. Thank you for any advise!

Maria Hattas
- Nitra, Slovakia
  ^- Privately contact this inquirer -^


May 29, 2013

A. Gold plating will not last. If you want a long-lasting gold finish, consider PVD.

treglio portrait Jim Treglio
American Faucet &
  Coatings Corporation


Vista, California


May , 2013

thumbsup2Well, the gold plating on pocketwatches has often lasted more than 100 years, Jim. But it was something like 400X as thick as what people want to apply today. 100 years divided by 400 equals? (left as an exercise for the reader).

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey


May 31, 2013

A. People have tried coating transparent hard substances like SiO2 on brass articles (and possibly on gold plating) by CEPVD / PVD though I am not sure with what effect. It appears worth exploring.

H.R. Prabhakara
- Bangalore, Karnatak, India

June 3, 2013

thumbsup2Am I totally wrong here, what is the problem in giving the costumer a thick layer of gold that lasts a lifetime. After all, gold is what costumer expects, when he/she buys jewelry.

Bo Koenig
Freelance - Aalborg, Denmark


June 5, 2013

A. It really depends on how intricate the jewelry design is. Balfour gave a presentation some years ago on class rings. They had moved from gold to PVD. Cost was an issue, of course, but a second problem is that the design work on gold would wear away over the years. With PVD, it would not.

treglio portrait Jim Treglio
American Faucet & Coatings Corporation
Vista, California


June 14, 2013

Q. Could I please enquire if there is such a thing as a PVD gold plating kit along the same lines as those electroplating kits one can get so easily. What would be the cost involved for that? Thank you.

Clive Gant
- Singapore


June 2013

A. Sorry Clive, but PVD means physical vapor deposition: it is a vacuum process done in a very expensive vacuum chamber; it's not an inexpensive kit. PVD is more appropriate for major manufacturers and their production runs, than for an artist or hobbyist.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey


September 21, 2013

A. Vacuum coating machine is widely used in stainless steel material; if the jewelry is brass or copper, then should do electroplating first,then use vacuum coating machine to do many IP color, rose gold color, TPU and so on.

Yan Wang
vacuum technology - Longkou, Shandong, China



December 3, 2013

Q. Hello
I am new to gold plating. How many microns do I need to goldplate stainless steel Iphone 4/4s battery covers and bezels, business card holders and keyrings so that they do not wear out quickly? I'm planning to market them in a hot country. I'm concerned the weather might cause them to wear out quickly, which is bad for business. I Appreciate any advice.

Thanks,
Paul

Paul Ajogbe
- England
  ^- Privately contact this inquirer -^


December 9, 2013

A. Hi Paul. I'm no expert on this, but I'll tell you what I believe, subject to correction by more knowledgeable people ...

There is no real answer, I'm afraid -- because it's predominantly a question of what standard of quality and endurance YOU want to hold your product to, and whether you can realistically upscale the potential customers to that level of quality.

- As mentioned earlier, gold plated pocket watches lasted a century with, say, 200 microns of gold.

- The very highest quality gold plating on super-premium luxury watches today is probably about 20 microns.

- High quality costume jewelry, say gold plated sterling silver earrings, involves plating of about 1 micron.

- An earlier inquirer on this thread wanted to reduce his gold thickness below 0.05 microns (although that was on top of a gold-tone TiN deposit).

So, if you want to rely on the gold plating alone for the wear, not on TiN or a clearcoat or a gold-tone lacquer, consider: Cell phones, key chains, etc., are not heirlooms to be passed down to the next generation, and don't require 20 microns; but they suffer far more wear than earrings -- so you'd probably be looking at 3 to 5 microns for really good quality.

But the thing is, if you intend to be a "me too" supplier, selling competitively, there is no way in the world you can afford gold of that thickness :-(

That's why you will probably find it necessary to either apply TiN by a PVD process (which requires volume), or apply a clear or gold-toned transparent/translucent topcoat on top of your gold. I certainly hope you can sell real gold plating of a few microns, but it would be a difficult sell. Best of luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey



Can you gold plate yellow PVD coatings like ZrN or TiN?

March 20, 2014

Q. Good morning,
I work in fashion field and I have galvanic plants and PVD.
The question is,
Is it possible to plate gold on PVD (like yellow Zr or Ti)?
Bye

Fabio Crolli
Top Finish - Florence, Italy

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