A lot of the gold jewelry you find today on the market is not gold filled, but gold plated jewelry. There is no major difference in the way gold plated jewelry looks when compared to the solid gold jewelry. But what does gold plated mean and how is plated jewelry made?

About gold plating  

Experts make gold plated items (electroplated items) using a layer of gold that covers the surface of another type of metal. Gold plating enhances the wearability and look of a piece of jewelry. When buying jewelry you need to be careful. Some vendors use gold plated items to fool buyers. That is why you should only buy gold plated or filled jewelry from authorized shops. The process of plating an item with gold is an easy process, but it requires a lot of mastery and experience.

How gold plated jewelry is made

The first step of gold plating is preparing the piece of jewelry. The metal surface of this item needs to be very clean and all dirt or oils have to be removed. Experts do this through polishing, stripping, sandblasting, tumbling and other methods. In this stage, they will use abrasive materials, solvents, acid etch, alkaline cleaners, water or a combination of all of them. One of the most common methods of cleaning includes acidic and non-acidic ultrasonic baths and rouge wheel polishing, which will improve the item’s adherence and will help keep the plating tank clean.

After they prepare the  surface, the piece of jewelry will undergo a process of electro-cleaning, steaming, and ultrasonic cleaning. This second cleaning will help obtain superior quality plating. Next, they will rinse the piece of jewelry with water to remove the remaining cleaning agents. After that, the jewelry will receive a very thin strike layer (known as a flash lawyer) of nickel. Experts use this buffer layer occasionally to improve the bonding between the underlying surface and the plating. After the jewelry receives its strike layer, jewelry makers will rinse it again and prepare it to receive its base coat.

Gold plating process

For the base coat, experts usually use nickel. Each piece of jewelry can have more than one layer of plating. For example, plated silver jewelry can have a silver substrate and more layers of nickel, copper, and gold. Now the piece of jewelry is ready to receive its final coating.

Using carefully controlled temperature and voltage, the jewelry makers will submerge the piece into a plating tank where it will attract gold ions to obtain the final gold plated jewelry. Jewelry makers hang the piece of jewelry from a cathode bar (negative electrical charge). Once inside the tank, through the electrical charge, it will attract all the positive charged ions. Jewelry makers control the thickness of the plating by changing the submersion time. Finally, they will rinse and dry the jewelry piece.

Experts use this method to coat different types of jewelry. This includes gold plated necklaces, chains, dangle earrings, rings and many more. In addition to this, one can use different types of gold combinations to obtain different shades, for example, rose gold jewelry.

The advantages of gold plated jewelry

Building your own jewelry collection can take time and a lot of money if you intend on buying only solid gold items. It is quite easy to create a wonderful collection with gold plated jewelry. You can combine costume jewelry with fine jewelry and gemstones easily. What you have to be aware of is that jewelry in general, not only gold jewelry, doesn’t retain its value from the time of the purchase. One way to get a quality piece on a lower and medium budget is to shop for gold plated jewelry. Buying gold plated jewelry has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are some positive and negative aspects of purchasing gold plated jewelry.

gold plated jewelry

One of the biggest advantages of buying this type of jewelry is that you can do it even if you are on a strict budget. You can find a very fine gold plated necklace, chain or dangle earrings and even rose gold jewelry and still not worry so much about your budget. You can even afford to buy more than one at once. In addition to this, when getting bored of one piece, you will never regret paying a lot of money on it. But most gold plated jewelry can look just as good and stylish as very expensive solid gold jewelry.

There are some small disadvantages, such as the fact that gold plated jewelry can fade away in time. On the other hand, you can replate some gold plated jewelry pieces.

Overall gold plated jewelry can be a fantastic purchase and a great value to any jewelry collection.

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Ruxandra is a fashion blogger who teaches fashion stumped twenty to thirty somethings how to shop their jewelry boxes for polished new ensembles. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Fashionista, Nylon, and Refinery29.