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How long Gold Plating over brass will last? Will the zinc discolor plating?

October 21, 2009

Q. I am trying to do .5 micron gold plating over brass jewelry. but my manufacturer said that it will get discoloration very quickly because of zinc in brass. he said Zinc will migrate with the gold and will cause discoloration.

He suggested I do first Nickel or palladium plating then Gold plating, which will help my gold plating last for more longer period.

I need expert advise.

Sunny Singh
jewelry - DALLAS, Texas, USA

October 22, 2009

A. Hi, Sunny. I think you have been advised correctly. The gold and brass do slowly diffuse together if there is not a barrier layer of nickel between them. While this may not be a major problem at room temperature with thick gold plating, it may be with half micron thick plating.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

December 8, 2009

A. Hello,

In fact, a barrier layer shall be added between brass and gold.

Onto house-goods, we put a 5 microns bright nickel layer to avoid the problem of Copper diffusion into gold layer.

But, considering the new politics concerning "nickel-free processes" for jewelry, we have replaced the nickel barrier by a white bronze layer (5 microns) for the parts in permanent contact with skin.

Hope it can help you.

Nicolas Duthil
- Bordeaux, France

September 17, 2010

Q. I am doing high end 3 micron gold plated brass jewellery. My process is: copper plating on polished item, buffing, flash cyanide copper, palladium plating, micron gold and flash gold.

My question:
1) Can I use white bronze in between copper and palladium which my customer wants? I tried but could not plate anything over white bronze. It seems white bronze cannot be plated.

2) Can palladium be plated directly on brass. After buffing, at some places the plating wears off specially at the edges of the articles and hence the base brass gets exposed. Can I plate Pd directly on it? I tried rhodium but it attacks there.

Please help.



November 4, 2010

A. Hi,

You can always plate on top of Bronze, I think you have some problem with the chemistry of White bronze.

praveen kumar
Praveen Kumar
    plating process supplier
Mumbai, India

May 14, 2012

Q. I have a ring that says it is double layer of genuine 18k white gold and rhodium platinum over brass. Will that turn my finger green?

katie donalds
- duluth Minnesota

May 2012

A. Hi Katie.

Neither white gold nor rhodium will turn your finger green, but brass will. So if the plating is good and heavy and free of porosity you will be okay until it wears thin.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 27, 2013

Q. Hello!, I'm buying a bracelet from Europe and it's 22k gold plated brass, is that good? It says that it's non-tarnish but I will like to know from someone else too.


Sara Stollreiter
- Guatemala

May 28, 2013

A. Hi cousin Sara. Unfortunately it is difficult to tell the quality of jewelry just from a seller's claims because their intention isn't really to inform you, but to induce you to buy. Yes, 22 kt gold plated jewelry is probably non-tarnish, and it can be fine, but the thicker the gold plating the better. If they don't tell you the thickness, it's probably not very thick at all. Good quality costume jewelry should probably have about one micron of gold plating on it. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

December 8, 2015

Q. Hello I just purchased two bracelets, one says 18k gold over brass and the other just said rhodium plated over silver. Should I worry about tarnish?

Thelma Finnaman
- Egg Harbor City, New Jersey

December 19, 2015

A. Hello Thelma, the gold over brass will tarnish. The brass will migrate into the gold plated layer because there is no barrier plate. For the Rhodium plated, it would depend on the thickness of the rhodium plating. Rhodium is one of the hardest finishes as plated. Depending on how often the piece is worn would be directly related to the rhodium wearing off. The rhodium finish would hold up much longer than gold over brass. Sorry it took so long to respond.

Mark Baker
Process Engineer - Phoenix, Arizona USA

January 27, 2016

Q. Hi,

I have 2 choices,

1) Brass with 18K white gold plating (Coating: 0.03 mil)
2) 925 sterling silver with 18K white gold-plating (Not sure of coating thickness).

Please advise which will last longer. Been researching, and so confused about it.

- Toapayoh, singapore

January 2016

A. Hi Oi. As noted earlier, trying to judge the longevity of a finish from the vendor's sales pap is nearly hopeless but I'll pick whatever is behind door "2" Door 1: 0.03 mil is .76 microns, which is probably reasonable today for costume jewelry. If it's a broach, it will probably last quite a long time; but if it's a ring, it probably won't last long (rings get a huge amount of wear).

Although you don't know the thickness of the gold plating on the sterling silver item, so it is impossible to predict it's longevity, the simple fact that it's made of sterling silver rather than brass, so is more costly, is a good indication that it's probably higher quality. :-)

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 25, 2016

Q. If I want to gold plate spent brass ammunition, can I use the nickel plated brass and go from there or do I need to do something different?

Koby Sandusky
- Reading, Pennsylvania

June 2016

A. Hi Koby. As long as it remains "spent", nickel plating followed by gold plating sounds fine. Just don't try to fire it.


pic of Ted Mooney
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

December 7, 2016

Q. Ted,
I was wanting to gold plate brass, same as Koby. Thanks for the info.
You cautioned against firing such a round. Why? What are the consequences for such activity? Is it safety concerns or doing damage to a nice plating job?

Gale Kloesel
- Harper, Texas, USA

December 2016

A. Hi Gale. I'm no ammunition/firearms expert and I can't comment on potential safety issues with dimensional clearances, friction or cold welding in the barrel or clip, embrittlement of the casing and possibility of explosion, etc. I'm simply saying that gunpowder-charged bullets are lethal, precision engineered & carefully tested devices -- and I'd be careful of willy-nilly alterations, especially amateur attempts at activating & electroplating.


pic of Ted Mooney
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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