Homemade Gold Plating

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Gold plating a piece of metal is easy with the right equipment.
Gold plating a piece of metal is easy with the right equipment. (Image: gold dipper image by Marko Korac from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Gold plating is way to get the look of gold at a fraction of the cost. Most nonferrous metals can be gold plated. Gold-plated silver is termed vermeil and is often used in making fashion jewelry. It isn't complicated to gold plate small projects with a rectifier and gold electroplating solution. Large gold-plating projects require expensive, specialized equipment that is cost prohibitive for most jewelry makers who work at home or in a small metalsmithing studio.

Things You'll Need

  • Acetone
  • Distilled water
  • Rectifier & leads with alligator clips
  • Glass container
  • Electroplating solution
  • Rubber gloves

Clean the metal you plan to gold plate with soap and water.

Use an alligator clip to attach the positive lead of the rectifier to the metal object supplying the gold electroplating solution.

Use an alligator clip to attach the negative lead of the rectifier to the metal jewelry or object you are gold plating.

Pour the gold electrolyte solution into a glass container large enough to hold the item you plan to gold plate. Be sure the plated item is completely suspended in the plating solution and does not touch the bottom or sides of the container.

Turn on the rectifier according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The low voltage of direct current causes metal ions to deposit the gold plating on the metal object. Leave the item in the gold plating solution until it is plated to the thickness you want.

Gold plating isn't an exact science. Adjust the rectifier as needed until the item is plated. Record the voltage and time to replicate results.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the chemicals used to gold plate.
  • Use caution when working with electrical currents.

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References

  • "The Complete Metalsmith: Professional Edition&lrm;"; Tim McCreight; 2005
  • "Metalsmithing"; Robert Ebendorf, Michael Jerry, and Thomas Markusen; 1973
  • "Jewelry Concepts and Technology"; Oppi Untracht; 1982
  • " The Complete Book of Jewelry Making"; Carles Codina; 2006
  • "Jewelry: Fundamentals of Metalsmithing"; Tim McCreight; 1997
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