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5 Reasons Why Your Jeweler Doesn’t Want to Gold Plate Your Jewelry

Written by Annabelle
August 30, 2019

Gold-plated jewelry is cheap and well-loved. When it wears down to the base metal, it's time to take it to the jeweler! But not every jeweler will plate your item, and you might be turned down here and there. Instead of feeling disheartened, learn more about why your jeweler is saying no to gold plating jewelry.

1. Your Item Is Made from an Incompatible Material

If you're bringing in something that's not metal, such as resin, plastic, bone, or glass, most jewelers will not be able to plate the item. This is due to the fact that jewelers use electroplating for gold plating jewelry, a process which involves running electricity through a solution to fuse gold to the surface of a conductive metal. Non-conductive materials cannot be plated via this method, and only large manufacturers will have the ability and equipment needed to plate such unconventional materials.


This rose gold plated bangle was engraved, revealing a resin base below.

2. Your Jeweler Has No In-House Capability

Not every jeweler has an electroplating tank or plating experience. Small shops may turn you down because they just don't have the ability to touch up your piece regardless of equipment or expertise. After all, it is a scientific process that requires a level of proficiency in order for the item to come out properly plated.

3. Your Item Is Costume Jewelry with Glue-Set Stones

Aside from their crazy base metals, costume jewelry is particularly annoying for jewelers because of the way stones are set in these pieces. Unlike fine jewelry, costume jewelry is assembled with glue for stone setting. Because the gold electroplating process requires submersion in water, the glue loosens and stones fall out of the item. Items with a significant amount of rhinestones are extremely complicated for jewelers to fix and usually not worth the hassle.


This hollow Jesus pendant is covered with tiny rhinestones that may pose an issue during plating.

4. Your Item Cannot Be Polished

Certain items and types of metals cannot be polished. While they can still be plated, it's not recommended because the gold plating will not look even. For the best gold plating results, the surface of the jewelry must be smooth and unblemished. If the jeweler receives a piece that will not react well to the polishing process, they may turn down the job to avoid any issues with the customer post-plating.

5. Your Jeweler Cannot Plate That Type of Metal

While it may seem easy, gold electroplating is actually a very complex process that involves a lot of chemistry and in-depth knowledge about metals. A jeweler may turn you down because of the metal type that you happen to be bringing in. Precious metals such as sterling silver and different colors of gold are very easy to plate; their chemical properties make them highly amenable to the process. On the flip side, base metals such as brass, copper, and zinc pose an issue. They can be plated, but if your jeweler has only one plating tank these metals will “contaminate” the tank's contents. This means that the jeweler will need to clean out and re-condition their plating tank after introducing one base metal item. The cleaning procedure is a costly and time-consuming step that most jewelers will not take one for just one sale.
However, if you send your items to a jeweler that has the capacity for plating multiple types of metals, it's very easy to plate these base metals. We've done several pieces of copper, brass, and even pewter!


A brass ring before and after plating.

Gold plating jewelry can be a tricky procedure, but don't let one jeweler's rejection get you down! If you have some lovingly-worn pieces that need a fresh coat of color, hit us up here and let's see what we can do for you!

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