Many people like the look and affordability of costume jewelry. However, this feeling of adoration is often short-lived when they start experiencing an allergic reaction from the cheap metals it's made from. Plating jewelry with precious metal can stop it from tarnishing while restoring life into your favorite piece.
Difference Between Fake and High-Quality Jewelry
One factor separates fake, or costume, jewelry from standard high-quality jewelry: the kind of metal used to make it. Jewelry is either made from base metals such as brass, copper, and different alloys or precious metals like platinum, silver, or gold. Precious metals don't easily tarnish and are naturally hypoallergenic. This makes jewelry made from precious metals suitable for all wearers.
The value and rarity of precious metal make it difficult for designers and manufacturers to afford to create large quantities of high-quality jewelry. This is why less inexpensive costume jewelry, made from base metals substantially cheaper to produce, sell, and purchase is more readily available.
While base metals have a better price point, their downside is they're more prone to causing allergic reactions and tarnishing. Base metals don't have the same properties precious metals do and contain chemical components known to aggravate sensitive skin.
What Are Precious Metals?
Precious metals is the term used for metals having high economic value or are considered rare in nature. The higher economic value of these precious metals is driven by several factors, including their use as investment materials, their use in industrial processes, and their overall rarity. The most popular precious metals among investors include silver, gold, and platinum.
What Is Precious Metal Plating?
The process of silver and gold plating is a scientific process requiring a significant level of chemistry. First, we polish and clean the jewelry before placing it into a tank containing a solution of water and metal salts. Electricity runs through this water and metal salts solution to chemically bind the precious metal being used to the surface of the piece of jewelry.
Precious metal plating is rather straightforward, with pieces made from precious metals like silver and gold. However, pieces made from base metals aren't always compatible with the gold and silver plating process and often require additional treatments prior to being placed in the tank.
This additional treatment includes plating the piece of jewelry with another layer of metal before starting the process of rhodium or gold plating. This preliminary layer is usually made of palladium. This silvery metal doesn't tarnish or the base metal nickel to make the piece more amenable to the traditional gold and silver plating process.
An important note about copper is that has a strong tendency to tarnish and darken and, over time, seep through gold and silver plating. It's an inevitable chemical process resulting from copper's composition. This makes the preliminary layering process necessary before rhodium or gold plating. Preliminary layering will prevent the oxidation from showing and make the plating last longer.
Precious metal plating can be done on most types of jewelry, including costume, antique, and vintage pieces, plus watches, watch bands, and items with gemstones.
Why Would I Get My Jewelry Plated?
There are several reasons why you would plate your costume or heirloom pieces of jewelry, including:
Restoring the color: If the piece was previously plated, the plating might wear off over time. Re-plating it with a thicker coat of precious metal can restore it to its original color.
Changing the color: Tired of silver? No problem! Switch to a gold look with gold plating and feel like you're wearing a new piece of jewelry.
Prevent tarnishing: Brass, copper, and other base metals darken in color over time, especially if it's a piece you wear often. Plating your jewelry in precious metals allows your jewelry to retain its look without changing color.
Preventing allergic reaction: There's nothing worse than not being able to wear your favorite piece of jewelry because it's turning your finger green or making you red and itchy. Precious metals are hypoallergenic, meaning a strong plating will let you wear your piece again without fear.
Benefits of Plated Jewelry
Precious metal-plated jewelry has several advantages. In addition to bonding a thin layer of precious metal to a base metal to make it look more expensive, other benefits include:
Jewelry plated with precious metals is more affordable. Precious metal-plated jewelry pieces are the most affordable when comparing them to pieces filled with precious metals or solid silver, gold, or platinum pieces. They generally range from $5 to $50. The affordability of precious metal-plated items allows more people to buy and wear them.
They look like the real thing. The untrained eye will have a hard time distinguishing pieces plated with precious metals from the real thing.
They are great statement pieces. The piece can look like solid silver, gold, or platinum while remaining affordable for the average customer. Jewelry plated in precious metals can bring the perfect touch of decoration and brilliance to any outfit.
They're easy to produce while having multiple design possibilities. Precious metal-plated jewelry is ideal for "of the moment" trends. Having a jewelry item of a specific style that is plated allows you to be part of the current trend without having to invest in something that won't be around for the long term. Precious metal-plated jewelry has several design options and can be used for various occasions.
Gold metal-plated items are very durable and strong. Gold is an extremely malleable and soft metal. The higher the karat, the more malleable and soft the item is. This makes 24K too soft to create a piece entirely from 24K gold. Gold either needs to be plated over other base metals or alloyed with other metals to be strong enough to shape and form into jewelry.
Gold plating jewelry with a thin coat of gold on the outside is a great way to maintain the look of gold while having a durable and strong item of jewelry. Gold-plated jewelry can handle the abuse of everyday wear better than solid gold.
Let the professionals at Martin Busch Jewelers help you take your jewelry piece to the next level with precious metal plating.