By now, you know that most of the gold jewelry on the market is actually gold plated jewelry. But is gold plated jewelry as expensive as the solid gold jewelry process? Is the plating process costly? And what’s unique about gold plating and gold plated jewelry?
For as long as you can remember, gold jewelry has been regarded as the best quality of jewelry you could wear, and if you want to look rich or if you consider yourself rich, you’d have to wear gold jewelry in one form or the other. And with different kinds of gold jewelry on the market today, it would be wise to understand how different kinds of jewelry come to be.
Today, we’ll take a look at gold plating, how it’s done, why it’s done, and the cost of the process. So, let’s jump right to it!
The process of gold plating
Gold plating jewelry is an important process that gives not only jewelry a beautiful gold look but also enhances the durability of the plated jewelry.
Through gold plating, the plated jewelry is a lot more resistant to tarnishing. This is because gold is non-reactive, and it doesn’t tarnish, corrode, or rust. Gold is also hypoallergenic. Gold plating lends these qualities to jewelry made of metals that have otherwise undesirable characteristics. You only need to make sure that the gold plating is done using high-quality or high-purity gold, for example, 14k or 18k gold.
Gold plating also increases the value of the plated jewelry. Gold plating sterling silver, for example, results in jewelry of high value. Jewelry plated with 18k or 22k, or 24k gold, for example, will be prized highly because they have a layer of the most precious metals added to them. As a result, this jewelry will be worth a lot more.
The other reason why gold plating is an important process is that it ensures the diversification of your jewelry selections.
It also enhances the longevity of jewelry.
So, how is gold plating done?
Gold plating can be defined as the process through which a very thin layer of gold is added to or bonded to a base metal. This process was invented by the Italian Chemist Luigi Brugnatelli back in 1805 when he plated a thin gold coat on a piece of silver.
Today, gold plating is used to make costume jewelry and also to create imitations of more expensive jewelry variants.
Gold Plating Process
Plating is a specific, comprehensive process that follows these steps:
First, the piece of jewelry to be coated with gold is cleaned thoroughly, and all pollutants and contaminants are removed. Thorough cleaning is an important process because any oil and dirt present on the base metal keeps the gold layer from bonding to the base metal correctly. Therefore, cleaning is taken seriously. Three cleaning options are employed – ultrasonic cleaning, steam cleaning, as well as electrocleaning – all done to have the perfect base metal and for the best plating results.
Once cleaned, the next step involves the addition of an ultrathin layer of the best quality nickel onto the base metal. This is the strike/ flash layer. Nickel protects the gold layer that will be added to the base metal from being impacted by that base metal. This is crucial because metal elements from the base metal would otherwise leech into the plated layer of gold if the nickel layer isn’t incorporated. This layer of nickel is also important because it protects the base metal from contaminating the gold bath used in plating. Often, two layers of nickel will be added to the base metal for an extra layer of protection.
Next up, the jewelry to be plated is dipped into the gold bath – the gold is put in containers. To bond the gold to the jewelry, a positive electrical charge is passed through the gold bath, and this bonds the gold to the base metal. This is a highly specialized process and the layer of gold added is only micrometers thick. It’s done in two steps – first goes the base coat, then the final coat. As a result, the process demands a high level of specificity. Also, different types of plated jewelry would be produced, depending on the type of gold used and the thickness of the gold. Once done, the plated piece is rinsed then dried.
Is gold plated real gold?
Yes, gold plated gold is real gold. Despite having a very thin layer of gold, there is real gold used on this plated piece of jewelry, and that gold is real.
Just keep in mind that gold-plated jewelry is not made of gold entirely, and most of the time, the base metal is made of silver, copper, or brass. The layer of gold added to plated jewelry is often ultrathin and between 1/1000 and 3/1000 of an inch.
Is gold plating expensive?
Well, it depends. Jewelry plated with 18k gold, for example, would cost more than the ones plated with 10k gold. The type of gold (alloy) used is also important – rose, yellow, or white gold.
But if you are plating jewelry in bulk, then the plated jewelry won’t be as expensive as it would be to plate a single piece of jewelry.
How much does it cost for the gold plate?
Well, there are two main types of plating processes – gold plating and rhodium plating. Gold plating is what’s done to most jewelry, especially costume jewelry, sculptures, and watches.
For plating, any old gold plating is stripped off, then the pieces are polished and cleaned before all the dents and scratches are removed. Nickel is applied, and finally, the layer of gold.
This entire process could take up to 3 weeks, and the cost varies depending on the size and number of the pieces that require plating.
Often, jewelers charge $135 for the smaller pieces of jewelry, while bigger pieces such as bracelets, earrings, and bigger pendants cost anywhere between $160 and $240.
Why is gold plated so cheap?
The reason for the low price tag attached to the plated jewelry has to do with the fact that this jewelry is made of an ultra-thin layer of gold that doesn’t cost much.
Even when 24k gold is used, 1/1000 of an inch really isn’t much, which is why the pieces cost less.
The cheap base metals also account for the low cost of plated jewelry.
To retain that nice gold shine, make your favorite last longer, or even boost the value of your jewelry, it might be a good idea for you to try gold plating your jewelry.
Gold plating is relatively affordable, and after the pieces are plated, they will last a while, which makes the process worth your money.