Most people don’t realize just how many techniques go into making and enhancing beautiful pieces of jewelry. One of those many factors? Electroplating. Now, you may have heard the term “electroplating” tossed around, especially if you’re interested in different processes associated with jewelry. You’ve also possibly heard the term if you enjoy buying jewelry (and who doesn’t?). But what is electroplating jewelry and why is it used?
In this article, we’ll discuss exactly that, as well as the many stages that must be done in order to get the best result possible. More than likely, you’ve seen pieces of jewelry that have undergone electroplating without realizing it--until now, of course! After reading this article, you’ll be able to easily recognize the virtues of electroplating jewelry.
First, let’s discuss exactly what electroplating jewelry entails. Basically, electroplating is the process of administering a metal coat on an object. In this case, the object is a piece of jewelry.
This is done for many common reasons (of which we’ll talk about below). However, the most common reason has everything to do with the overall aesthetic of the jewelry and design. With electroplating, there is more control over the aesthetic value of the piece of jewelry.
There are many, many, stages to electroplating. Unfortunately, it’s not just a quick, simple task. It takes expert knowledge and handling of machinery and jewelry to accurately get the job done. In other words: the level of skill and mastery is impressive. To start, jewelers prepare the surface of the jewelry in whichever way they deem fit. This could mean polishing, stripping, or sanding the part of the object that they are going to work on.
Next, it’s time to clean. Through electro-cleaning or ultrasonic cleaning, jewelers remove any excess dirt or oils that remained on the surface of the object. But the cleaning isn’t over just yet! Next, jewelers can do another round of cleaning (this time deep steam cleansing) to continue cleaning the piece. This final step also removes any additional oils while drying the item thoroughly.
While it may seem like this is a lot of disinfecting, all of these steps matter. Jewelers don’t want any excess oils or particles attached to the jewelry item once the electroplating begins.
Once another round of rinsing is done, it’s time to truly begin electroplating. As we mentioned above, electroplating is applying a metal coat to jewelry. So, after this last rinse, jewelers have two options — they can either apply a palladium plating or go straight to the electroplating and apply a coating of metal.
A palladium plating, also commonly known as the strike layer, helps the original layer of the jewelry bond a bit more seamlessly with the coating of metal added through electroplating. However, jewelers only need to apply a very thin layer of this palladium plating to the object. Then, after application, another quick rinse is in order.
Some jewelers choose to do this palladium plating step, and others don’t. There technically isn’t a wrong or right way to do this, and some choose to continue on straight to the electroplating, ignoring the strike layer step altogether.
Now, we’re at the final stage of the journey — and we’ll finally get to the act of electroplating. This final coating of metal can occur in a variety of metals including gold, rose gold, silver, and rhodium.
Once this final stage finishes, the electroplating adventure has come to an end! While most of the steps discussed above have more to do with the preparation of electroplating, all steps must be taken. Then, when it’s finally time to apply this layer of metal, the end result is beautiful! Job well done? We think so.
As mentioned above, one common reason jewelers electroplate jewelry is for design aesthetics. Electroplating helps improve the overall appearance of jewelry, especially when balancing color schemes. It’s not uncommon for a piece of jewelry (or a set of jewelry) to have mismatched coloring throughout. The solution? Electroplating the piece to evenly coat the color and add a layer of shine and protection.
Commonly, jewelers use electroplating because it helps improve the durability of the jewelry. With this method, objects are less likely to tarnish over time. Instead, they’ll stay polished and as beautiful as when they were first put on the shelf!
Finally, jewelers can also use electroplating in order to create a richer hue (if needed). For example, jewelers can use this technique and apply a higher karat gold to the jewelry, increasing it’s complete aesthetic and golden hue. Jewelers can also use rhodium, as it helps to embellish the overall whiteness of white gold and add protection.
As you can see, there are many reasons why jewelers use electroplating. Mainly, the process enhances the appearance of a piece of jewelry and helps it stay polished in the long run. Electroplating can keep jewelry from weathering over time, as well as help balance the color throughout the item.
A common technique used by jewelers far and wide, many people don’t think of electroplating when they look at a nice piece of jewelry. However, they should! It’s because of this method that jewelers are able to increase the overall aesthetic of a beautiful piece of jewelry.
Whether it’s gold, rose gold, silver, or white gold, electroplating can be used to improve the quality and beauty of most types of jewelry metals. By coating jewelry items with the electroplating technique, jewelers can increase the value, appeal and aesthetic of their items.
This method is also incredibly handy to use if certain jewelry sets have lost their uniformity of color. Unfortunately, this happens a lot when people wear a pair of earrings or a ring set every day. With electroplating, these lovely sets can be restored to their original beauty! After all, you don’t simply want to toss an old pair of earrings because they no longer match, right? Thanks to electroplating, you can keep your jewelry shining for the long-haul. And we all love a beautiful, enhanced piece of jewelry, don’t we?
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