Jewelry makes a wonderful gift for others and yourself. Necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings are the perfect accompaniment to any outfit, any time of the year. Gold jewelry specifically has a prestige that other materials fail to match.
However, pure gold jewelry can be expensive and is usually only reserved for the elite, making it very hard for more people to purchase gold pieces. Luckily, there is a tactic that many renowned jewelry makers use that combines the luxury of gold with the affordability of other metals.
This process is called gold plating, and this is everything you need to know about it.
What Is Gold Plating?
Gold has long been a symbol of wealth and elegance since early Egyptians utilized the metal. However, Italian chemist Luigi Brugnatelli wanted to try to make the gorgeous appearance of gold jewelry more accessible for people outside of nobility. So, in 1805 he created the concept ofgold electroplating, which is still used today in the majority of produced jewelry.
Today, the process of gold plating is simple, but it can take quite a few steps. First, a piece of jewelry has to be thoroughly cleaned through steam or ultrasonic cleaning, ensuring that there are no pollutants that could affect the process. Then, a thin layer of nickel is placed onto the base metal, which makes sure that the gold metal does not engage in a chemical reaction with the base metal.
Base metals can be made of all sorts of materials, but common examples are stainless steel, silver, brass, and copper. Typically, silver and copper are used most frequently. However, stainless steel is very high quality, so pieces that use this as a base material will tend to last a bit longer and have a more authentic feel.
Finally, the jewelry is dipped into containers filled with gold, where an electrical current binds the gold metal to the base metal. The thickness of the gold plating is determined in microns or micrometers. The thicker the micron, the more heavily gold plated the piece is.
Is Gold Plating Made With Real Gold?
Yes. The amazing thing about gold plating is that you can still show off your newest 18k goldDiamond Cuban Bracelet because it is made with real gold. The only difference is that it is notsolid gold.
The thing is: no one would ever be able to tell the difference, and it’s afractionof the cost of a solid gold piece of jewelry. There isn’t any reason to shell out a couple of grand on a solid gold necklace when you can get nearly the same thing for just a few hundred.
Because the outer layer of the piece is still made with real gold, it looks and feels legitimate. Not to mention, if the base metal used is stainless steel or silver, you’ll notice that the jewelry has a similar weight and feel to a solid gold piece as well.
How Do I Know If A Piece Is Gold Plated?
Chances are, you might own a piece of gold plated jewelry in your collection right now. Your jeweler would know, but if you don’t have them on hand, you can check if it’s plated by looking at common hallmarks:
The ideal thickness for a gold plated piece is about .5 to 1.0 microns, but if you hit the 2.5 mark, your piece will likely be considered heavy gold plated. Less than .17 micron pieces will usually be titled gold electroplated, as these must undergo a more specific process in order to bind the metals together.
But to the common eye, you would never know that a gold plated piece is anything less than solid gold. This makes them fantastic options to create an elegant look that won’t break the bank.
How Do I Maintain A Gold Piece Of Jewelry?
Gold is that it is resistant to corrosion, so it won’t tarnish. However, the metal under your gold plated piece mightfade over time. This is completely normal, and maintaining your necklace, bracelet, or rings is very simple.
Keep gold plated pieces away from oils and chemicals, as these could corrode certain metals underneath the top layer. It’s recommended that you put jewelry on last, after having washed your face, used makeup, or put on hairspray. Avoid chlorinated or salty areas when wearing jewelry, so take them off before dipping in the pool or the ocean.
But even if you’re extra careful, jewelry can get dirty and fade just from the natural oils on your skin. Luckily, cleaning is easy, so you’ll be able to hit the streets in no time.
If the jewelry is dirty, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to rub the vermeil underneath the jewels. You’ll then want to rub it down with a non-abrasive cloth.
There are polishes available on the market, and while you can use these, you’ll want to be careful not to use them too often. These can strip away the plating on your jewelry, leaving the base metal exposed. Instead, buff or clean it with a soft, dry cotton cloth. It shouldn’t need any polish to keep its original shine, as long as you’ve maintained it thus far.
If worse comes to worst, you can get your jewelry replated easily and inexpensively. How often you need to do this is dependent on the thickness of the plating itself, but you can just contact your local jeweler to get it re-dipped in a flash. However, if you’re careful to maintain your piece properly, your jewelry may never need replating.
You can also prevent tarnishing by making sure that your products are high quality from the start. Options such as this 18k goldEternity Ring that have been dipped in the gold plating multiple times tend to be of the highest quality. Before you buy, check and make sure that the product you purchase has been made to last.
Benefits Of Gold Plating
You could technically use electroplating to bind any metal to another to create jewelry, but gold has a number of properties that make it popular in manufacturing.
Aside from the elegance, gold doesn’t oxidize like many other metals. This means that high-quality pieces made using gold are much more durable than a lot of other alternatives. On top of that, this can help to inhibit corrosion from the metals underneath, so you can be confident that your next set of accessories will last for a long time.
Gold is also very malleable, so it is simple to deposit a thin layer on top of all sorts of common jewelry. Think about the intricacies of aMiami Cuban Chain or a tennis bracelet. These have a ton of nooks and crannies that require a pliable metal to cover. Gold is useful for these sorts of products, and they result in a refined, prestige appearance that will catch the attention of anyone walking by.
Outside of jewelry, gold can even be used in electronics and other areas. It isheat resistant, so it is used as an electrical component to be able to withstand high temperatures associated with conduction. While silver and copper are better conductors, gold’s resistance to tarnishing makes it invaluable in this field.
Gold plating is a simple process, but it’s more involved than you likely thought. The process of gold plating allows for a durable yet luxurious appearance for every piece of jewelry imaginable. And since it uses real gold, it is pretty much impossible to tell the difference between a plated piece and a solid gold piece.
It’s important to make sure that your jewelry manufacturer is producing high-quality products. But if you start to notice that your piece is tarnishing, you can buff it up with a cotton cloth. Not to mention, since gold plated pieces are cost efficient, there’s no limit to the accessories that you can add to your wardrobe.