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topic 33774 p2

Gold plating over sterling silver?



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A discussion started in 2000 but continuing through 2018

May 30, 2016

Q. We are talking about electroforming gold over both silver and or wax. I would appreciate your input on what electroforming solution would be good to use

vic masciarelli [returning]
- Northborough, Massachusetts


June 14, 2016

Q. We would be using Technic gold electroforming solution.

Also I have a second question: why do electroplating and electroforming companies move the items either back and forth or back and forth in a circular pattern when they are plating ?
thanks
Vic

vic masciarelli [returning]
- Northborough, Massachusetts USA


June 2016

A. Hi Vic. Technic offers every type of gold plating solution I mentioned, but will have a technical data sheet which explains what type of plating solution it is, and offers estimates of the plating rate.

The parts are moved for "agitation" -- which is sometimes done mechanically as you describe, sometimes by pumping the solution towards the parts, sometimes by injecting air into the bottom of the tank and letting it bubble up towards the surface, or a combination.

Agitation keeps the solution uniform, so it's not starved of gold or other constituents near the parts, and to some degree it thins the "boundary layer", the quiescent layer of plating solution adhering to the surface of the part, which slows the plating rate as the ions fight their way through it. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"



May 11, 2017

Q. Hi

I am interested in why vintage or antique jewelry that has a silver base and then is finished with a vermeil gold coating maintains its finish unlike costume jewelry. The gold layer seems to remain intact with regular wear and therefore a great economical alternative to karat gold jewelry. You mention here that silver jewellery usually has another coat of perhaps nickel before gold would be applied. I do not know if jewellery created in the 1920s to 1940s would have this additional layer or not.

I thought maybe it would have something to do with gold and silver's placement in the periodic table, but have forgotten my chemistry! It is a group 11 as are silver and copper so I think there is something in that.

Kind regards,
Kate

Catherine Amato
- Kent, United Kingdom


May 2017

A. Hi Catherine. While it is considered a good idea to have an anti-diffusion layer of nickel or other material between silver and gold, that is not really the main issue here. Rather, the Vermeil jewelry probably had a gold plating thickness of 2.5 microns. Good sterling silver costume jewelry from the '50s and '60s might have had "micron plating", about 1.0 microns of gold plating. Costume jewelry today probably has a gold plating thickness of less than 0.25 micron -- I've seen some vendors call 0.0000065", <0.17 microns, "heavy gold plating" :-)

Simply put, the gold plating on Vermeil jewelry was at least 10X as thick as the plating on costume jewelry of today, maybe 20X as thick.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"


June 29, 2017

Q. My ring is too small but it is Sterling silver with a gold plating what can I do?

Kristina Brooks
- Aurora Colorado


July 2017

A. Hi Kristina. The simplest answer is that silver rings can generally be stretched. Please visit a jeweler and talk to them about it.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"


July 29, 2017

Q. Hello and thank you for sharing your expertise. For my business I have a need to gold plate about 100 sterling silver charms (like the kind used on charm bracelets). They are small, around 10 mm-12 mm each, but do vary in size. Do you think I can find someone who can do this at a reasonable price? It is also very important that the gold last for 5 years +, or be permanent. Also, would it be possible for a professional to "dip" the charms in gold? Paint on gold leaf?! Not sure what is the best course of action. Thanks very much for your thoughts.

Kathy Bertone
- Naples, Florida, US
  ^- Privately contact this inquirer -^



July 2017

A. Hi Kathy. Paint or gold leaf will not work. PVD processes will probably not be available to you because of the low volume. Electroplating with gold will be the technology to use, and the gold must be thick enough and/or have a protective clearcoat on it for good wear resistance. I'd try to find a gold plating shop and get a good thick coating of gold, at least one micron, maybe even 2-1/2.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"



September 5, 2017

ACRONYMS:

PMC = Precious Metal Clay

Q. My hobby is making silver jewelry. I use PMC, fine silver and sterling silver; and frequently I use all 3 in a single piece of jewelry. Lately I was try to apply a gold plate to a pair of earrings. The body of the earring is PMC3. In the center there is a circular cutout of 8 mms surrounded by a 10 mm round ss ^ sterling silver gallery wire bezel. I cleaned the earrings in an ultrasonic cleaner, then tried to electroplate using Midas 24 k gold plating solution. For some reason, I cannot fathom, the earring which is a about an inch and a quarter puffed diamond shape, is plating on the back and the edges, as well as the gallery bezel but the rest of the front in not plating. I tried it on the second earring of the pair with similar results. What is going on. Help, please, I would be so grateful.
Thanks,

Mariam Valliani
- Baltimore, Maryland, USA


September 2017

A. Hi Mariam. A picture is worth a thousand words; please e-mail to . Sorry, but I can't follow what you are talking about. But the gold plating is not going to adhere properly to the stainless steel anyway.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"


September 5, 2017

A. You may have an incomplete firing of your metal clay and the binder or porosity is creating a film on the surface.

Neil Bell
Red Sky Plating

supporting advertiser
Albuquerque, New Mexico
red sky banner ad


September 7, 2017

thumbs up sign Thanks, Ted. I wasn't using stainless steel. When I said SS I meant sterling silver. Anyway, the problem is now solved; I tried electrocleaning the earrings and tried again and it worked! I must have got something on them that did not get cleaned off properly. So Im happy for now, but I really appreciated your response and also Neils - thank you!
Mariam

Mariam Valliani [returning]
- Baltimore, Maryland



November 7, 2017

Q. Hello! My question is in regards to one of your answers where you stated that gold would not adhere to stainless steel? I was under the impression that there have been new developments in making that work. Can gold now be successfully applied to Stainless steel? And with all your wonderful Knowledge, I'm curious what you think About stainless steel used for jewelry? Thank You for sharing so much with so many!

Christine Doehring-Hubbard
Artist - Hitchcock, Texas United States of America


November 2017

A. Hi Christine. I know very little about jewelry fabrication, so I can't advise very well on what is workable in fabrication; and I have no taste in jewelry matters nor artistic ability, so I can't advise what would look good either :-)

But with regard to gold plating onto stainless steel, the issue is not the gold plating per se, but the stainless steel. Electroplating requires a good metallurgical bond onto clean non-oxidized metal, whereas stainless steel instantly forms a passive oxide film on itself whether in air or water, so the plating will not adhere properly.

The solution to the problem is usually what we call a "Wood's Nickel Strike". This is a strongly acidic mixture with only a little nickel in it; the acid attacks and dissolves the oxide skin on the stainless steel while the nickel simultaneously plates out onto it. Then, while the nickel plating is still fresh and non-oxidized, gold or whatever can be plated onto it. It is not impossible to formulate a very highly acidic "strike" solution using gold instead of nickel (it's sometimes done in electronics plating), but it is not what is normally done, and it would not be a decorative 'final' gold plating anyway -- you'd still need both a "strike" solution and a decorative plating solution. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"


January 19, 2018

A. The Stainless steel activator is indeed Nickel chloride in acid solution (HCl), that is what most people recommend but I wonder if using Cobalt Chloride strike instead would be best since 30% of people are allergic to Nickel. I've been searching and could not find any information about Cobalt strike as activator but I've been able to successfully strike Stainless steel with Cobalt in the past.

Marvin Sevilla
- Managua, Nicaragua



Gold Plating on Silver Surfaces

December 28, 2017

Q. Hi everyone;
I am Irem from Turkey, Izmir. I was graduated from Chemistry of METU. My father is a jeweler. We have decided to work own job by plating gold on the silver surfaces. I have made many pieces of research on this topic but I could not find gold plating on the silver surfaces process which gives detail of it.
I would like to learn process steps of plating, required bath solution name, and concentration and required voltage or current amount.
Please someone can give the process detail or reference document for it?

Thanks in advance.

irem_bogaz
Irem Tuncel Boğaz
Chemical Coating Engineer - Izmir, Turkey


"Jewelry: Concepts and Technology"
by Oppi Untracht
from Abe Books
or
info on Amazon

January 19, 2018

A. Somewhat old but very good book on that subject is Oppi Untracht's "Jewelry Concepts and Technology" (try amazon com or abebooks if you want used and cheaper book) =>

Erhard Brepohl's book "Theory and Practice of Goldsmithing" [link is to info about book at Amazon] is very good too. There you can find first class infos on gold plating silver jewelry. Latest edition of "Modern Electroplating" [link is to info about book at Amazon] can be usable too. Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia



Sterling pendant causes skin reaction

October 3, 2018

Q. Hi, what would be the best way of putting a gold finish on a sterling silver pendant. I made a Sterling silver pendant for my niece, but for some reason her skin seems to be reacting to the silver metal on her chest. She loves it and does not want to change it but she does wear a lot of gold so I had thought I may be able to melt some gold and dip the silver into it but after reading all of what questions have been asked I guess it is not a simple thing to do. Do you have any suggestions to be able to put a coating of some sort onto the Sterling silver pendant. Thank you

Barbara Olive
- Queensland, Australia


October 2018

Nickel Detection plus Nickel-guard Coating

A. Hi Barbara. It would be much easier to put a clear lacquer coating on it. Some are sold specifically for this purpose =>

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"


October 6, 2018

Q. Thank you for your prompt info. I will find out if the company I buy my silver from if they add Nickel when producing it. I always thought copper was added to silver not nickel. I know all of their silver is recycled. I have been buying silver from them for quite a few years and have never had anyone react in any way from wearing it.
Thank you
Barbara

Barbara Olive
- Queensland, Australia



October 10, 2018

Q. My plater doesn't provide a white bronze undercoat on my sterling silver jewellery prior to the gold plating.
Apparently they don't have the facilities to do it.
The specifications are 2.5 to 3 microns of gold on sterling silver.
Is the white bronze step crucial to the longevity of the gold plate finish given that is will be 3 microns thick?
This is one reason as to why I am thinking of buying a home plating kit.
What are the pros and cons of doing a white bronze undercoat if I decide to do all of my plating at home?

Kaye Walsh
- Melbourne , Victoria, Australia


October 2018

A. Hi Kaye. Everyone has an opinion on this diffusion issue, but I think much of it is extrapolation from personal & anecdotal experience with thin coatings or from stuff they read. Diffusion is clearly an issue for thin coatings of gold on silver both because the coating is thin, and because thin coatings can have porosity or vacancies which provide diffusion channels which accelerate the diffusion far beyond calculated values. But I doubt that many people have actually ever plated anything close to 3 microns of gold and lived to see silver diffuse through it.

If your plater is actually providing 3 microns of gold plating I personally think you have no worries of the gold and silver diffusing in a lifetime, and I would not include an anti-diffusion layer.

Naturally though, if anyone actually has experience with room-temperature diffusion through such a thick layer of gold, I'd love to hear it.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"


October 10, 2018

A. Ted is correct. It's been our experience that 2.5 microns gold over silver is thick enough to avoid issues with diffusion.

Neil Bell
Red Sky Plating
Albuquerque, New Mexico



December 12, 2018

RFQ: Does anyone know of an individual who could gold plate silver earrings?
I sent my daughter's earrings for repair of a broken clasp. They were yellow. When I picked them up, they were "silver". The jeweler had put them in a cleaning solution which removed the "yellow" layer.
We had assumed they were real gold.
Now, she would like to have them gold plated again?
Is it possible?

Hassina Taykor
Buyer - Lyman, Maine, USA
  ^- Privately contact this inquirer -^


December 14, 2018

A. Hello Hassina, having the earrings and or clasp plated in gold would depend on the "silver" color metal below what was once gold.
It could be stainless steel which would limit the number of jewelry repair shops that are equipped to do it. There is an acid gold strike that can be plated directly on stainless, which is a very thin coating and usually plated again in a different gold bath for added thickness. If it is silver or white bronze, yes, it can be plated in gold. A good jewelry maker has the ability to plate it. I have seen many with either a pen plating setup or a very small plating bath. A plating shop would be too expensive and don't normally take on one or two small pieces. A good jewelry maker would be your best bet.

Mark Baker
Electronics plating - Phoenix Arizona USA



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