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

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A discussion started in 2006 but continuing through 2018

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December 28, 2017

Q. Hi again

Sorry to bother but how much gold is "10 macro" in mils?

Far Farre [returning]
- new york, oregon, usa

December 2017

A. Hi again, our well-traveled friend from Sweden, Los Angeles, Dallas, Oregon, & New York. I don't think there is any such thickness measurement as "macro"; please try to give us an exact quote about the gold thickness, in context. Thanks!


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

December 29, 2017

Q. Haha

I ask him how much gold is was plated over and he say: 10-15 macro ?

But then he said: 10- 15 micro that lot of gold?

Do you think it is so much in gold plating for that price? It's cost in dollar about $350-400

Far Farre
- new york, oregon, usa

December 2017

A. Hi Far. "Micro" only means "one millionth". But you can be virtually sure that the thickness is not 10-15 millionths of a meter (10-15 microns) because the world's most expensive gold plated watches aren't even plated that thick these days. So he probably meant 10-15 millionths of an inch, i.e., about 0.25 to 0.38 microns.

Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing whether he was telling the truth, and we do not attempt to evaluate items here anyway. But 0.25 to 0.38 microns is probably typical for costume jewelry / imitation jewelry.


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

How long do 24k gold electroplated taps last?

January 20, 2018

Q. Hi as a rule of thumb how long would 24k gold last before showing signs of wear on bathroom taps?

Steven Gaskell
- Auckland, New Zealand

January 2018

A. Hi Steven. There is almost surely a clearcoat over the gold plating, and it probably ought to last a few years, according to general expectations of merchantability. Unfortunately I don't think there is any way to hazard a better guess.


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

January 23, 2018

A. Hi Steven
Ted is quite right. Clearcoat should last a couple of years. Without it 24 kt gold on its own is thin and very soft.
In my opinion it is a totally unsuitable finish for any domestic surface subject to wear like regular cleaning.
Of course, clearcoat detracts from the appearance of gold and it usually ends up looking like brass.
So why not save a small fortune by just buying clearcoated brass fittings?

geoff smith
Geoff Smith
Hampshire, England

January 29, 2018

Q. Hello
I'm a goldsmith from Istanbul Turkey. After working years on gold and diamond, we have started to take orders in silver and export them to EU. We started our plating journey by very thin flash plating to get 14k gold look but it was too weak and our goods were losing their color. Customer wants on the other hand, they are looking for pieces gold plated to last approximately 1 year. After quick research we found a company whose occupation is micron plating (as they say). The company owner told us that 1 micron would be fair enough for necklaces and earrings and 2 microns for bracelets and rings. They have solved the durability issue of the plating. But we face a color problem every time we give them chain necklaces; nearly half of them come in really dark gold color (sometimes they look they are burnt) while the rest of them have 14k gold shine.
Whenever we discuss this problem with the company owner, he blames the chains:)
What I'm curious about is: are there any possible risks that I mentioned above in micron plating because of a mistake or this company is just faking on our models and doing something different than micron plating. I'm having this problem with 25 percent of the chain necklaces (no matter which design it is)
I have been following this topic for a long time and I have seen there are authorities sharing their valuable gold experiences. I really need help and advice.
Best regards

Murat Yapar
- Istanbul Turkey

March 5, 2018

Q. I bought a watch with a gold plated band which after only a month became very tarnished. I bought a replacement one today and am fearful that it too will only last a few weeks. Is there anything I can do to keep it looking like gold? Thank you. Bev.

Bev Davis
- Brisbane Australia.

3M Silver Protector Strips

March 2018

A. Hi Bev. If you wear it only occasionally, you could wrap it in an anti-tarnish cloth, or put anti-tarnish materials in a drawer with it. But practically, the only thing you can do is make sure you bought a different brand this time.


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

August 24, 2018

Q. One of the following solution was given by Ted Mooney, P.E.: "Of the materials you listed, I think a brass or copper base, followed by nickel plating (or white bronze if jewelry), immediately followed by gold plating would be the best choice."

My question is the following: I have a watch case I would like to gold plate, with a home set electrolyte solution, but in the instructions they mention to mirror polish the object because of all the scratches you would notice, but now that I'm going to nickel plate, is this still necessary!?

Patrick Marugg
- Corunha, Spain

August 2018

A. Hi Patrick. Modern nickel plating baths are "self leveling", so surfaces that will be nickel plated do not require mirror polishing. But two provisos: first, I am not necessarily sure that a home hobbyist will achieve proper self-leveling unless you have some experience; second, the fact that nickel plating does not require a mirror-finished substrate doesn't mean that it can cover and conceal all scratches; up to a certain depth it will cover them, but beyond that it will emphasize them. If this is an old watch case, chances are it has some scratches which the nickel plating will emphasize rather than cover.


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

August 20, 2018

Q. Has anyone had any experience with home plating kits?

I am talking about the complete kit with everything you need to gold plate your jewellery at home.
These kits are around US $3000 with rectifier included, usually it should also include a quart of 24 karat gold solution.
I would love to hear from anyone who has any knowledge on these types of kits as I am seriously thinking of buying one.


kaye walsh
jewellery inc - melbourne victoria australia

August 2018

A. Hi Kaye.

Here is a 'kit' from Gold Touch for $499 at the time of writing =>

There is really nothing special about the $3000 price range. Electroplating for the purpose of a science experiment can be done at no cost, and with stuff already in your kitchen; and at the other extreme a plating installation for depositing a single metal can cost $10 million or more.

If you have not done plating before, my own feeling is that you should do the kids free science experiment plating first ("Electroplating -- How It Works") to quickly understand the science behind electroplating, at least at a grade school level. I would then consider buying a kit and some copper plating solution and trying some copper plating and clear coating of jewelry. To me, the main issue with gold plating is just that experimenting and trying to learn the basics using a metal which costs $1000 an ounce is a costly way to go :-)

Additional comments are welcome! ... but sorry, we can't post comments mentioning or suggesting specific brands of kits (why?).


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

August 21, 2018

A. Ted is right. Gold is awfully expensive to experiment with; you should start with something simpler.
Does the kit include gold stripper for when you get it wrong? We all do sometimes!
I would want a spill tray for when you break one of those glass beakers (not if).
Do you have cleaning chemicals; and know how to do a water break test?
Do you intend to do a nickel undercoat?
How do you intend to dispose of unwanted chemicals (local regulations) and have you considered first aid when some gets on your skin - or in your eye?
And was that reel of wire in the photo tinned? You should use bare copper to avoid getting tin or lead in the gold.

$3000 is a significant investment. A local plating company could do a lot of work for that.

geoff smith
Geoff Smith

October 2, 2018

thumbs up sign 
Thank you Geoff and Ted for your advice regarding electroplating at home.

I guess the main impetus for wanting to buy a gold plating kit is that I don't know if I can trust this function to just any old gold plating business.
There's really no way I can judge if they are depositing the right amount of gold specified until it's too late, no?
This forum has given me much too think about re. investing in an expensive plating kit, thank you again.


Kaye Walsh [returning]
jewellery inc - melbourne australia

October 2018

A. Hi again Kate. Until you've acquired some plating experience there will be no easy way for you to be assured that you applied the required thickness either :-)

Plating shops do plating for medical parts and aerospace ... it's possible to find trustable ones. Ask them for a "cert" (certification) regarding the gold thickness, while you practice with copper electroplating/electroforming. The same equipment you use for copper can be used for nickel and gold after a learning period.


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

Gold plating turns orange if touched

November 2, 2018

A. I had some jewelry plated (14k 1 micron thick on some bronze pieces and some sterling silver pieces) by a major US gold plating company and when I received the pieces they turned orange almost immediately after contact. When I contacted them about that they said that was oil from my hands and it would wash off. When I washed them with soap and water the dark orange marks seemed to mostly go away. But then the second I touch them again (even with clean hands) they darken again. Now about 2 months later they are all orange (looks like tarnish) which does not go away with washing them or even using a tarnish remover.

I've only had pieces plated with this particular company, so I'm unsure if this is how gold plated jewelry always reacts, or if this is strange. Should I expect this? Should I ask for something different? Does anyone have a gold plating company that you would recommend for this?


Aran Cawley
- Alexandria, Virginia

November 6, 2018

A. Hello Aran, did the plating company use a barrier plate (diffusion barrier)? There are a few things to consider. If the company you chose did not use a barrier plate between the brass and the gold the brass will migrate through the gold and cause the color change. If the gold plating is too thin, migration is accelerated. The plater should have told you barrier plates are commonly used for gold over brass. If they plate copper over the brass before the gold the same scenario will take place.

Mark Baker
Electronics plating - Phoenix Arizona USA

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