A Beginners Guide to Gold Plating

Gold plating is a favourite in the decorative and jewellery industries due to its aesthetic appeal, natural finish and low cost compared to 9-carat alloys. Gold is the least likely to oxidise compared to other metals – it doesn’t even oxidize in water. It is also one of the most conductive materials and is very malleable, making it a popular choice for plating.

GoldWhat can gold plating be applied to?

Gold plating can be applied to almost any metal, as long as the it has a metal conductive surface. If copper is gold plated, a layer of nickel is often applied to the substrate as a mechanical backing to improve the overall wear resistance and reduce pores in the gold.

What is the gold plating process?

Gold plating is a thin layer of gold applied onto the surface using the gold electroplating process, which involves:

  • The surface of the substrate is cleaned, involving stripping, polishing, sandblasting, tumbling and a variety of liquid chemical cleaners. This improves the ‘stick’ of the layer and keeps the plating tank free of contaminants
  • A second deep clean is applied to remove any oil or dirt
  • It is rinsed to remove any cleaning chemicals
  • A base layer of copper or nickel is applied if needed
  • The substrate is submerged into the plating solution hung from a cathode bar (a pole with a negative electrical charge). An electric charge is applied, which attract the positively charged ions in the gold plating solution. The thickness of the plating is controlled by the time it is in the tank.
  • The gold plated piece is rinsed and dried

What is gold plating used for?

Gold plating is mostly used for jewellery, due to its low cost with the same aesthetic effect. It is also popular on signage, antiques or bathroom additions. The electronics industry uses gold plating on various electronics for a corrosion resistant and conductive layer on copper for electrical connectors and printed circuit boards

Items usually gold plated:

  • Rings
  • Necklaces
  • Expensive watches
  • Electrical connectors
  • Circuit boards (provides a corrosion-resistant layer on top of copper, with a layer of nickel in between)

Advantages of gold plating:

  • Gold plating largely reduces the cost, and you can still achieve the same aesthetic qualities as pure or filled gold
  • The gold electroplating process is relatively inexpensive, so if the gold layer becomes tarnished or is damaged it can be re-plated

Disadvantages of gold plating:

  • Gold plated items, like jewellery, will eventually tarnish and show wear
  • Less gold content means the item is less valuable than pure gold
  • Electroplating services in general are expensive for one-off items, due to the labour cost

Dorsetware provides a variety of gold plating services and metal finishing, at a superior standard.
To enquire about
gold plating in Poole or to get a quote for gold plating costs, speak to one of our electroplating experts at Dorsetware on 01202 677939 or alternatively use our online contact form.

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