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Non-cyanide silver plating for jewelry items


(2004)

Q. DEAR SIR

I WANT FORMULA FOR SILVER PLATING CHEMICAL FOR PREPARING NON CYANIDE BATH silver leg chain jewelry. PLEASE SEND ME PARTICULARS FOR SUPPLYING CHEMICAL AND BRIGHTENER USING CHEMICAL DETAILS. I need supplier address also thanking you sir.

Feroz F [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
r.s. PLATING - Salem, Tamilnadu, India


Clean Earth Silver Plating Solution

(2004)

A. Hi Feroz. EPI (Electrochemical Products Inc.) [a finishing.com supporting advertiser], Technic, Zinex and probably others offer non-cyanide silver plating processes, but this page is for camaraderie and techical info, not commercial sourcing.

Although non-cyanide silver plating reduces the safety hazard (see http://p2library.nfesc.navy.mil/P2_Opportunity_Handbook/1_10.html for example), it is not quite the equal of cyanide silver decoratively. Be careful that you don't put yourself out of business by shipping unsalable jewelry :-)

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

----
Ed. note Dec. 2016: Sorry that link no longer works.


(2004)

A. You can use next formulation:

40 gm silver chloride
200 gm potassium ferrocyanide
20 gm potassium carbonate stainless steel or silver anodes
60-80 °C temp.,10-15 A/sq.ft.

(according to J.Fischer,D.Weimer: "Precious Metal Plating" [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], Teddington 1964.)

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia


(2004)

Q. Dear Goran,

I am very interested in your formulation given and as I am also seeking a non-cyanide silver plating solution which provides a brightener-free "white" finish for engineering applications; I would like to know:

1. Would this formulation be able to give me 7.62-12.7 microns of silver?

2. Would I still require a silver strike to improve efficiency?

3. Would this solution be a compatible finish to apply after a Woods' nickel strike?

Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Nigel Gill, B.Sc MIMF MRSC
- Glasgow, Scotland


(2004)

A. Dear Nigel!

I am just metalwork conservator--and I have used that type of bath over ten years, but without any scientific control (current density, cathode efficiency, thickness control etc.). I have even used it for small scale electroformings (0,3 -1 mm thick), and it works well. According to ex USSR literature(Yampolsky:Precious metal deposition,Moscow 1961., and P.M. Vjatcheslavov, S.R. Grilihes, G.K.Burkat, E.G.Kruglova: Galvanotehnika blagorodnih I redkih metalov/Electroplating of precious and rare metals/,Leningrad 1970.) You can work without strike (except stainless steel, you must activate it). Good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia


September 5, 2008

Q. The original reader asked for a non-cyanide plating solution. Goran suggests using a solution containing ferrocyanide (i.e., the solution does contain cyanide). Am I correct or am I missing something obvious? (Note I'm an electroplating novice).

I myself am looking for a non-cyanide based silver electroplating solution. My application is a micro electromechanical device for DNA detection. I require around 5 µum of silver (which I shall coat with AgCl). The silver appearance does not have to be particularly good - i.e., shiny.

I have found several papers on plating from a solution of AgNO3 dissolved in aqueous ammonium hydroxide (ammoniacal silver hydroxide). These papers are written by a reputable guy called Brian Polk from The National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg. See for example;
Journal of Electrochemistry Society, 151 (9) C559-C566 (2004).

In some other topics I noted that Ted Mooney has concerns over the explosive nature of ammoniacal silver nitrate if it is allowed to fully evaporate. Polk in the above paper also expresses these concerns; however, he states, "Some sources indicate silver nitrate in aqueous ammonia may produce explosive salts within hours after mixing, while other sources claim the solutions are stable for months. Solutions for this work were stored in the dark and used for up to a few weeks before deactivation with HCl." I'd be interested to hear your comments on that Ted.

I've also cheekily tried to contact Technic USA to find out exactly what is in their non-cyanide based Ag electroplating solution. Unsurprisingly they haven't told me!

Finally a question - does anyone know of any other cyanide free Ag electroplating solutions apart from ammoniacal silver nitrate?

Many thanks,

JAMES GRANT
- Glasgow, UNITED KINGDOM


September 5, 2008

A. Hi, James. I'm just a guy with some plating industry experience, and I'm not qualified to talk about silver fulminates beyond the general warning that one should look into them before experimenting with silver plating homebrews.

Other suppliers of cyanide-free silver plating solutions include Zinex and EPI (Electrochemical Products Inc.) [a finishing.com supporting advertiser]. You are correct that suppliers will not disclose the full details of their development efforts, but often you can find the general basis for the chemistry from their technical data sheets and MSDS. Good luck with it.

Regards,

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


TUTORIAL FOR NEWBIES:

An oxide finish instantly forms on stainless steel which makes robust plating difficult or impossible. The answer is usually to start the plating with a Wood's Nickel Strike or other striking solution which includes a very high concentration of acid (to dissolve the oxide) and a low concentration of nickel, such that a thin layer of nickel replaces the oxide.

April 11, 2010

Q. I tried Goran's(old German handbook) formula and by golly goodness it worked, except I used a silver anode. And I still don't know what activating stainless steel means.

David Castillo
- Abilene, Texas, USA


May 12, 2010

Q. This is not about silver plating, but it does involve Goran's other solution. I tried the gold plating version and it works pretty good for safe homemade solution ... but it only worked if I plated for the first couple of minutes then it started plating a rose gold color. What is happening? Do I have contaminated gold or gold solution?

David Castillo [returning]
- Abilene, Texas, USA


A. Hi David. Yes, the solution is probably contaminated with copper.

Regards,

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



December 31, 2016 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I am starting a small jewelry making business and want to be careful about the silver components that I use for my pieces. Any suggestions on what to look for in silver plate and/alloy metals and what to steer clear of that could be compromising to a person's health?

V. Milner
- Decatur, Ga USA

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