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Brass and nickel plating pendants

December 16, 2011

Q. My wife is in arts and crafts and make a lot of resin products. She has recently started a collection of resin jewelry and I thought that some of her products could be plated for a more polished look. All the items are small with the largest dimensions probably about 3cm X 3cm X 1cm.

I know resin is not metal based and therefore was planning to spray with a lead based paint which could then be plated.(Any other suggestions)

I wish to set up a small plating bath for an antique brass look (does not have to be brass, just a look a like would do) and a bath for the silver look (nickel). These are probably totally two different methods but wish to find out how to from scratch starting with:
1) Power supply - could I use a battery charger 12V with 2A or 8A (most inexpensive)
2) Bath itself - from what I can see on youtube it seems like a acid base PH specific but no specific ingredients found
3) Any other details that could be of my assistance.

Please assist, this is for a small home based business and would like to keep it inexpensive.


Hans Fouche
Entrepreneur - Hennenman, Freestate, South Africa

Hi, Hans.

I am not an artist and have no such skills, so I can't suggest how to make jewelry and pendants; but I will say that plating on polished metal, or simply patinating polished metal would be much easier than what you want to do. So if your wife can cast or bond metal pieces into her resin, you might think about that approach.

Don't use lead in jewelry and pendants; use a copper, silver, or graphite based metallizing solution instead. We have an FAQ on Plating Organic Materials that may be of some initial assistance in your studies.

We have an FAQ on How Electroplating Works that teaches grade school children how to electroplate in minutes flat from kitchen chemicals, but the thing is, this produces plating that demonstrates a scientific principal but isn't bright enough, heavy enough, durable enough, or sufficiently adhered for actual functional use. REAL electroplating, by which I mean functional, attractive, and robust plating, is almost always done from proprietary solutions rather than home-brews of basic chemicals. So, if she doesn't want to send the items out for plating by a plating shop, and you haven't the budget to purchase professional plating processes and equipment, then I'd suggest that your objective be learning rather than practical jewelry plating. That being the case, I'd suggest you try the student electroplating projects to get a general feel for the idea, then get your hands on a good plating text like the Metal Finishing Guidebook or Electroplating Engineering Handbook [on AbeBooks or eBay or Amazon] and learn what you can through experiments and reading. Best of luck.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
December 20, 2011

Try imitation gold leaf and imitation silver leaf (or real gold and silver leaf). Much simpler and safer process and can be very effective too. Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia
December 22, 2011

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