How to Silver Plate Metal

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Silver plating enhances the look of fashion jewelry.
Silver plating enhances the look of fashion jewelry. (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Silver electroplating is a great way to get the look of sterling silver without the expense. Almost any metal object can be plated with silver if you have the proper equipment. Large-scale silver plating is difficult to do at home because the equipment is specialized and quite expensive. Small-scale silver plating can be done in your home or small studio using a rectifier and silver electroplating solution.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber gloves
  • Protective eye wear
  • Acetone
  • Distilled water
  • Lint-free towel
  • Rectifier & leads with alligator clips
  • Glass container
  • Silver electroplating solution

Clean the metal you plan to plate with acetone, and then rinse off the acetone with distilled water. Dry the metal with a lint-free towel.

Attach a positive lead from the rectifier to the sheet of metal that supplies the electroplating solution. Most leads are attached with alligator clips.

Attach the negative lead from the rectifier to the metal object you want to silver plate with an alligator clip.

Pour the electrolyte solution into a glass jar or beaker that is large enough to accommodate the item you want to silver plate. Submerge the object to be plated in the electrolyte solution. The object should be suspended in the solution and should not touch the bottom or sides of the container.

Turn on the rectifier so that a low voltage of direct current is activated. Metal ions travel through the solution and deposit silver onto the object you want to plate. Use the rectifier manufacturer’s recommended settings when silver electroplating metal.

Leave the metal submerged and the rectifier on until the silver is plated to your satisfaction. Check the metal from time to time. Adjust the rectifier as needed.

Keep track of the voltage and time required to electroplate your silver object for future reference.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear rubber gloves and protective eye wear to protect your hands and eyes from the chemicals used to silver plate. Use caution when working with electrical current.

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References

  • The Complete Metalsmith: Professional Edition; Tim McCreight
  • Metalsmithing; Robert Ebendorf, Michael Jerry and Thomas Markusen
  • Jewelry Concepts and Technology; Oppi Untracht
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