Fashion Jewelry Plating Process

March 06, 2017

One of the most crucial steps in manufacturing our beautiful jewelry is the plating process. We use only the finest 18 and 14 karat yellow gold and rhodium (cousin of platinum) to create our beautiful masterpieces. We use a process called Electroplating for all our fashion jewelry; let us share some basic information on this unique process:

Electroplating is the process of using electrical current to reduce cations of 18 and 14 karat gold or rhodium from a solution and coat raw jewelry pieces. Electroplating is primarily used for depositing a layer of material to bestow a desired property (e.g., abrasion and wear resistance, corrosion protection, lubricity, aesthetic qualities, etc.) to the jewelry surfaces that otherwise lacks that property.

The process used in electroplating is called electrode-position. It is analogous to a galvanic cell acting in reverse. The part to be plated is the cathode (raw jewelry) of the circuit. In one technique, the anode is made of the metal to be plated on the part. Both components are immersed in a solution called an electrolyte containing one or more dissolved metal salts (18 karat gold/rhodium) as well as other ions that permit the flow of electricity. A rectifier supplies a direct current to the anode, oxidizing the gold/rhodium molecules that comprise it and allowing them to dissolve in the solution.
At the cathode, the dissolved gold/rhodium ions in the electrolyte solution are reduced at the interface between the solution and the cathode, such that they “plate out” onto the cathode. The rate at which the anode is dissolved is equal to the rate at which the cathode is plated, the current flowing through the circuit. In this manner, the ions in the electrolyte bath are continuously replenished by the anode. Plating thickness is dependent on how long electrode-position is allowed to process.