Plating items are made with a thin layer of metal on the surface over another metal .
Gold plating is an easy technique, but before beginning the process, make sure you follow the best practices.
Step 1: Surface Preparation
The surface of the metal to be plated must be absolutely clean, so oils or dirt must be removed, and the piece must be polished. The use of solvents, abrasive materials, alkaline cleaners, acid etch, water, or a combination can be used.
Step 2: Cleaning
After the surface is prepared, and a visual inspection is done, ultrasonic cleaning or steaming and then electro cleaning usually takes place. Steam cleaning blasts off any remaining oils that managed to hang on during the polishing phase and the electro-cleaning salts get rid of contaminants by degreasing too.This second, deeper, cleaning step must followed to ensure metal is free of oils and dirt, which helps produce superior plating results and not contaminate your expensive plating solution.
Step 3: Rinse
The piece is rinsed thoroughly with deionized or distilled water to remove any cleaning agents. ( never use normal tap water in any step of plating)
Step 4: Final Coating
With time, temperature and voltage carefully controlled (check the manufacturers guidelines), the piece is submerged into the plating solution to attract ions of gold or the final metal that will show on the surface. Different metals require different voltages and temperatures.
The items to be plated are hung (preferably not touching each other) from a cathode bar, which is a pole with a negative electrical charge going through it .The pieces of jewellery connected to the cathode bar are also negatively charged. When the items are submerged in the tank an electrical charge is applied and the negatively charged jewellery attracts the positively charged ions present in the solution. The positively charged metal ions are submersed in the solution bath. When the cathode bar is lowered into the bath the metal jewellery gets plated.
Step 8: Final Rinse
Rinse off the pieces with deionized or distilled water and then hang them to dry.
Step 9: Drying
The pieces are hung, in order to dry.