When you first had it, the jewelry was gold in color, thanks to the plating that was on top of it. However, over the years, the plating fades away, and you have jewelry that you can’t quite wear because it’s visibly faded, full of scratches, or lacks luster.
Instead of throwing out the jewelry, there’s the option of removing the plating. That’s why you hear, to find out how you can do it.
The good thing is you don’t have to take it to the jewelers. You can remove the gold plating from the comfort of your home instead of taking a trip to the jewelers. Let’s get into the steps of how to go about it below.
How to remove gold plating at home
Depending on the plating, removing the layer varies in difficulty. You ought to keep in mind that gold is loved for its ability to resist a lot of chemicals, which is not what you quite want to hear in this case. The process you take varies based on the thickness of the gold plating. Let’s first look at two techniques for removing a thin layer of gold.
Note: getting the same chemicals that jewelers need won’t always be easy. That means you’ll have to improvise, and the results you might get can be less than desirable. Read on to find out if it’s worth the risk for you.
You will need:
- Tripoli compound
- Jeweler’s rouge
- Scotch-Brite (or an alternative mild abrasive pad)
- Felt cloth
- Soft cloth
- Silver polish
Take the abrasive pad and use it to scrape off the thin layer of gold. It might take a while, but applying pressure on the pad as you move it back and forth ought to work. Use reasonable force as you’re only targeting to gold layer and not the base metal.
The result of using the abrasive pad is a scratched surface. Here is where the felt cloth and Tripoli compound come in. Go all round over the jewelry so that you can buff the body and make it smooth. You can also use jeweler’s rouge to further make the surface shiny if that’s your preference. Dab some on a soft cloth to help with the process.
If you want to give the jewelry a high polish finish, then use good quality silver polish and flow with a varnish or clear polish to protect the silver polish from fading. Remember to polish the jewelry properly with a soft cloth to avoid painting over any debris or product used.
Note: This approach is not advisable for people who don’t work well with chemicals and flames as it can be a fire hazard.
You will need:
- Glass jar
- Denatured alcohol
- Boric acid
- a torch
Wear the protective gear
Fill denature alcohol into the glass jar and stir in three tablespoons of boric acid and stir
Using the pliers, gently grip your jewelry into the solution. Swirl the jewelry around to keep the solution stirred. Do this for a few seconds.
Moving away from the solution, take a blow torch and heat the jewelry briefly. The intention is to burn off the alcohol, which will leave a boric acid in white powder form. If the entire piece is not covered in the white powder, repeat the process three or four times, ensuring the jewelry has cooled before each cycle.
When done, the gold will disappear, leaving you to polish the base metal to your liking.
Removing a thicker/heavier layer of gold
We care about your jewelry, and sadly, you’ll need a professional to remove the heavier layer of gold. If you try this at home, you might cause damage to your jewelry, not to mention the amount of elbow grease you’ll need to get to the base metal. If anything, jewelry with a heavier coating tends to be more expensive, and the base metal is often silver.
Jewelers and repair shops have access to strong acids and techniques not commonly known to the average buyer. Their ways of removing the heavy layer of gold will not damage the silver underneath, something you’re likely to do if you insist on DIY. Jewelers have powerful solvents that remove the electroplated or chemically bonded layer quickly.
Things to keep in mind before opting for the process
Before taking steps to remove the plating, it helps to have all the information you need to make the right decision. Here’s some advice.
- If the jewelry’s original state was plated, you might need to reconsider your approach to restoring it. The advisable step to take is getting the item replated to restore it to its initial state.
- The above is particularly vital if the jewelry is thin. DIY might not be a good idea as it will likely the layer of silver or copper base underneath, leaving it in a worse condition or causing breakage.
- Gold plating is often used to make the jewelry gold-like and beautiful and protect the base metal. Removing the layer might expose the material undeath to tarnishing.
- If you’re removing a thin layer of gold, plenty of people have also recommended Wright’s Silver Cream or Brasso. It’s just as effective when you rub it on the jewelry with a soft cloth
- Taking the piece to the jeweler is also recommended for jewelry with a thin layer. They’ll buff and polish the article for a small fee. However, that depends on the jewelry. Intricate pieces provide a unique set of challenges that might increase the price.
- Consider asking for professional advice before opting to remove the layer of gold. Jewelers are better placed to tell you the next steps.
- When finding someone for the job, ensure that they are professionals as you don’t want a quack working on your precious jewelry.
Some people enjoy projects where they get to work with their hands; others, not so much. Chose an approach that works for you. If in doubt, find your local jeweler for some help.