What is gold plating?

Gold plating is a process where a thin layer of gold is bonded onto a base metal (usually copper or brass). The process was invented by an Italian chemist, Luigi Brugnatelli in 1805, the first person to plate a thin coat of gold onto silver. 

Gold plating is almost impossible to tell apart between expensive pieces of gold jewellery and less expensive gold plated jewellery. 

What is the gold electroplating process?

Plating jewellery requires several steps:

  • The piece of jewellery must first be cleaned thoroughly and removed of all pollutants in order to produce the best results.

  • Next, a thin layer of high-quality nickel is plated onto the base metal. This is to protect the gold layer from any being impacted by the base metal. These metals tend to leech into the gold layer. The nickel layer also keeps the  base metal from contaminating the gold liquid in the containers used for the plating process.

  • The jewellery is dipped in the containers with gold and a positive electrical charge is used to fuse the gold onto the base metal. The jewellery is hung to dry.

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Is gold plated real gold?

Yes, gold plating is real gold but because of how little gold is used, such jewellery doesn’t hold the value of gold.

The purity of the gold used in gold plating ranges just like solid gold. The lowest purity is usually 10K and the highest is 24K gold. 

How long does gold plating last?

Gold plating is meant to be permanent, but like all types of plating, it doesn’t handle rough exposure well. Gold plating can wear over time, exposing the base metal underneath. 

How do I look after and restore my gold plated jewellery?

By taking proper care of your gold-plated jewellery, you can extend its life and keep it bright and beautiful. Here are some steps to take:

  • Keep your jewellery away from chemicals, oils and makeup. It’s a good idea to always put on your plated jewellery last, after applying makeup, hairspray and perfumes. When doing chores, take off your jewellery as the chemicals in soaps, detergents and cleaners can impact the plating.

  • Keep your hands clean when handling gold plated jewellery. Try to wash them before putting on and taking off your jewellery.

  • Don’t expose your jewellery to chlorinated or salty water. Take off before swimming in pools, hot tubs or the sea.

  • Body oils and sweat can impact gold plating. Wipe your jewellery down frequently.

  • Cleaning your jewellery regularly is important to prolong its life. Use a mild liquid soap or a professional jewellery cleaning solution. Avoid any harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners. Avoid brushing or rubbing the jewellery, as this can make it flake, exposing the metal below.

  • Keep gold plated jewellery from rubbing and friction as this will cause the piece to wear down quickly and to flake off. This can happen when you layer gold plated jewellery and they rub against each other. It’s best to wear the piece of jewellry by itself.