Gold Plating Jewelry Explained – How Plating Renews Your Old Jewelry

Gold Plating Jewelry – One of Those Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve Never Gold Plated a Porsche, but it Can be Done!

As the Dear Abby of Santa Barbara Jewelers, I get asked questions about gold plating jewelry all the time. What exactly is the procedure? Can my jewelry be gold plated again? Will it affect my gemstones? Is it worth doing?

Cindy’s Ring; Heartily in Need of Gold Plating

gold plating jewelry

This Two-Toned Ring Benefited From White Rhodium Plating and Yellow Gold Plating

Case in point: Cindy, a client of Calla Gold Jewelry, told me one day she wished her mother’s old ring looked better. I knew exactly what the problem was the minute she showed it to me. Much of the gold had worn off. I suggested she re-plate it.

“What do mean?” she asked.

“Re-gold plate it,” I answered.

I described how the ring had originally been gold plated and pointed out the areas on the ring where the silver colored, underlying metal was now showing.

“So you could really re-plate the gold on it?” Cindy asked skeptically.

“I gold plate jewelry all the time.”

“It sounds expensive,” she said.

“It’s not. And compared to making a whole new ring from scratch…it’s a deal!”

“And how does this gold plating work?” she asked.

I explained.

Gold Plating Jewelry Defined

The term “plating” is actually short for “electroplating.” Without getting technical—or boring Cindy to death!—electroplating is the process of covering one metal with a thin layer of another.

Before and After gold plating

An Awesome Before and After, Showing the Effect of Gold Plating on a Funky Old Faucet.

The item to be plated is immersed in a chemical solution containing the covering metal , electricity is added, and by the process of electrolysis, the suspended molecules of gold are transferred to the piece of jewelry.

How long the jewelry is left in the solution determines the thickness of the plating. But it cannot go too far or it doesn’t look smooth.

“What are My Color Options in Gold Jewelry Plating?”

Jewelry can be plated in yellow gold or if you want a white metal look, it can be rhodium plated. (See my blog post on rhodium plating.) Often, other gold color tones can be applied depending on the desired color. Rose gold is popular. Green gold, not so much. But some antique rings have details in green gold and re-plating them brings back their cool vintage look.

Why Costume Jewelry and Fine Jewelry are Gold Plated

gold plating jewelry

One of the main reasons older jewelry; costume or real, is re-plated, is to improve the gold color of the piece. After years of wear the old gold plating even if not worn off can just look sad and dull. Real gold jewelry can also look old and tired and need a good plating treatment to look its best.  A new gold plating treatment gives it new life and pizazz!

Four Factors in How Long Your Gold Plating Will  Last

“Won’t the plating wear off?” Cindy asked. “How long does it last?”

“It depends on four factors,” I answered.

“One: the thicker the plating, the longer it will last.”

“Two: its contact with the real world. The plating on a ring typically wears off way faster than a pendant due to rubbing against the fingers and hand, and by coming into contact with what the hand is touching like soaps and lotions. A gold plated pendant would last longer than a ring before it had to be re-plated.”

“Three: Gold plating has various levels of clingyness to different metals. Gold likes silver, so when you gold plate over silver it’ll stay on longer that on random costume metal. Gold plating likes Gold even better. So the metal you’re gold plating on plays a role in how long the plating treatment will last.”

“Four: My clients with a more acidic body chemistry seems to wear their gold plating off sooner. Also for rings if the soap you are using has a harsh ph level, that can damage the gold plating layer.”

“Will it Hurt my Amethyst?”

“So you’re saying,” Cindy asked, “that you would simply dip my mom’s amethyst ring in this plating solution and twenty or thirty minutes later, pull it out, and I’d essentially have a whole new piece of jewelry? And it wouldn’t hurt the amethyst?”

“Well, we do prep the jewelry piece to protect your gem. But essentially you’re right, that’s all it would take, and no, it wouldn’t affect the gem at all,” I replied.

Repairing Gold Plated Jewelry

“What about the worn down prongs?” Cindy asked.

“I’d fix those first. Soldering—applying heat to—any gold plated jewelry causes the thin layer of gold to liquefy and run. Most gold plated jewelry has to be re-plated after it’s had repair work done.”

“All right then, you convinced me! Let’s do it!”

I saw Cindy a week later and she was thrilled out of her mind at her ring.
“Oh my god!” she exclaimed. “This looks brand new!”

Indeed, it did.

Do you have a piece of jewelry that could use a lift? How about re-plating it?

Your Personal Jeweler,
Calla

About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at a distance clients. Santa Barbara jeweler Calla Gold personally designs jewelry that comes from your story and your heart.

48 Comments

  1. Tracey Mikami on February 21, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Thanks for this simple explanation. I love the gold plated Porsche. It made me want to read this.
    The before and after pics of the old faucets is a pretty genius way to show what plating can do.
    I also felt you acknowledged our intelligence by showing the faucets and not jewelry, I can use my imagination. Thanks!

    • Calla Gold on February 21, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      Tracey,
      That’s probably the first blog post I ever put up that didn’t have a picture of jewelry in it. Good on spotting that.
      I’ll keep in mine that the gold plated Porsche pulled you in. It captured my attention like a lasso around my heart.
      Calla Gold

  2. Sue M. on March 4, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Calla Gold, you are so the “Dear Abby” of jewelers. You’ve certainly answered a lot of my jewelry questions over the years.
    Thanks for talking about gold plating. I have this pair of silver earrings and they used to be so pretty with the gold in a swoosh across the front. They look bad, not gold and not silver these days. So I’m not wearing them.
    I will call you and have you re-gold plate the front part!
    I’m so glad you wrote this post.
    Sue

    • Calla Gold on March 4, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      Sue,
      Let’s definitely talk about gold plating the swoosh on your silver earrings. It’ll give it a nice three dimensional feeling having the two tone look restored!
      Calla Gold

  3. Executive Coach on March 30, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Thanks, Calla Gold for making mysterious aspects of jewelry design and repair techniques understandable.
    Your jewelry business is so interesting because you have learned how to do something for everyone!
    I can imagine how gold plating jewelry or re-gold plating for that matter a piece of jewelry that used to look amazing could bring back that amazing shiny look that made it so appealing in the first place.
    Hmmm, note to self, time to dive into my jewelry box and see if I have any candidates for Calla!
    Appreciatively,
    Lynn
    Dr. Lynn K. Jones, Certified Personal and Executive Coach
    http://www.lynnkjones.com

    • Calla Gold on March 30, 2012 at 9:35 am

      Lynn,
      I love that you’ll look with new eyes at your jewelry. After I wrote this post I looked in my jewelry box and just gold plated a ten year old pair of earrings. It looked nice before, but it just pops now. It looks new. And you know how you wear things over and over again and to you they are always beautiful? And maybe to the rest of the world they are not so memorable?
      Well after gold plating these earrings people are noticing them. Hmm. I wonder if any other of my pieces would like a facelift?
      Calla Gold

  4. Catherine Ekoko, M.D. on April 3, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Thank-you for this explanation of gold plating; it’s great to be able to make new a loved, but worn out, piece of jewelry. Some things just can’t be replaced, and luckily we have our talented Calla to come to the rescue!
    Catherine

    • Calla Gold on April 3, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      Hi Catherine,
      I’m so pleased that this post spoke to you. I think there’s a teacher inside of me that blogging has set free. I love explaining this stuff. And when people like it I feel like eating an apple.
      Hmmm. I’m going to go eat an apple!
      Thanks,
      Calla

  5. Mr. Culver Atty on April 18, 2013 at 11:29 am

    This is my first time I have visited your Jewelry Without Walls blog. I found so many entertaining topics in your blog, I spent too much time reading. This info on gold plating is especially good.
    I did especially enjoy its discussion in some of the comment areas. Particularly on your titanium blog.
    From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the good work.
    R. Culver

    • Calla Gold on April 19, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      Thank you Mr. Culver for coming by and giving your feedback. I’m pleased that you’re enjoying my jottings!
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla Gold

  6. Guillermo Valdez on June 27, 2013 at 10:29 am

    I want to re-plating pieces, but, the final color is too “yellow”… i want a Little more White the gold tone. What can i do?

    • Calla Gold on June 28, 2013 at 9:27 pm

      Guillermo,
      I like to use a 14kt plating solution. The 18kt gold plating solution tends to read as too orange.
      Calla Gold

  7. Vania on November 1, 2013 at 8:00 am

    An intriguing discussion is worth comment. Gold plating is needed by all kinds of people.
    I believe that you ought to write more about this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but usually jewelry folks
    don’t talk about these issues. They just take it and charge you and you have to go to them to make it look good and don’t know why!
    Kind regards!!
    Vania

    • Calla Gold on November 3, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      Hi Vania,
      I talk about plating freely so people will know that just because a piece of jewelry has lost it’s golden beauty it may be able to be gotten back.
      I want people to know how so they ask the right questions and find the right jeweler. Thank you for writing!
      Calla

  8. karen on February 25, 2014 at 2:04 am

    Hi.

    I have a brand new beautifully intrricate and delicate white gold diamond engagement ring.

    I’m considering rose gold plating, but no jeweller will give me a rough estimate of how long it would last! I would be wearing it every day, with no wedding band to rub against it, and i would take good care of it. Would you estimate I would have to have this replated in rose gold every year? I don’t think it would be a good idea if I hade to do it annually.

    Also, would all of the tiny prongs be plated? i.e. absolutely everything that is metal, regardless of how small?

    Lastly, I prefer yellow-y rose gold rather than dark pink rose gold. Could you recommend how I could avoid it being too dark/pink?

    Thank you do much.

    • Calla Gold on February 25, 2014 at 6:37 am

      Karen,
      This may sound strange to you but all the rose gold plating I do is for rose gold that has gone too brick-red toned. Because of the high copper content in rose gold it can change color over time. It ends up sometimes looking less pinky and more orangy reddish. And it can darken.
      The rose gold plating comes out different color tones. The plater cannot calibrate for color. We buy our plating solutions from our supplier and they can be different from batch to batch.
      In other words you will not be able to dictate what color tone you prefer. My guess is about once a year for a daily wear ring is a smart guess. However I am not sure. I tell my clients who rhodium plate their white and yellow gold about once a year is a good idea. They don’t always re-plate as often.
      Rose gold is the most touchy of all the golds and the most challenging to work with.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  9. Kimberly Crist on December 19, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    My son recently bought an engagement ring from a military exchange store. The ring is a white gold 3 split shank band with rose gold prongs on the middle band’s diamonds. The ring needs to be resized from a 7 to at least an 8. The jeweler at the store said the heating from resizing would melt the rose gold. Is there anyway to have this remedied & keep the rose gold prongs?

  10. Val Wise on July 26, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    If I send you a piece, will you gold plate it? How do you determine cost?

    • Calla Gold on July 27, 2015 at 5:54 am

      Hi Valerie,
      People mail me pieces to gold plate all the time. Usually they send me a picture and tell me the metal. I do not plate aluminum or anything with older lead solder on it.
      The cost is based on time to prepare the piece by cleaning and polishing. If there are many nooks and crannies it takes more time to prep it.
      I would say a minimum would be $25.00. If you had multiple pieces I’d figure out a bulk discount.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  11. Catherine on July 30, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    Hello, Calla.

    I have a HUGE costume jewelry collection with many beloved pieces that I would love to replate, so eventually I plan to buy my own machine and learn to do it myself.

    In the meantime, I’m interested in seeing how certain items turn out when done by an “expert”. Specifically, I have a [detached] ladies link bracelet-style watchband from a vintage Tissot watch that is very worn, and my favorite pair of largish doorknocker earrings from the 80s.

    I know it’s problematic without seeing the actual pieces, but can you give me a rough “guestimate” as to a price range for items such as those? (Earrings are 2″ long and 1.5″ wide at the widest point of the drop, with a “hammered” texture look. Bracelet band is 7″ long and about 1/2″ wide.) Of course, I can easily provide photos and would have done so already had there been an upload feature associated with this comment box! 🙂

    Thanks,

    Catherine

    • Calla Gold on July 30, 2015 at 8:48 pm

      Hi Catherine,
      You may certainly send me pictures at calla@callagold.com. If I don’t respond I didn’t get it, but I usually do. An important part of gold plating success is the prepping of the metal to accept the plated gold. I’d not be able to give you a price.
      Another thing you want to thing about if you get your own plating set up is that you’ll want to have professional type polishing. If the metal isn’t prepared properly your plating set up will give sketchy results.
      Another thing to know is that the gold plating on watches is done with a different process called sputtering or vapor deposition under vacuum.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plating) It is done in bulk on numerous pieces at a time. It is not something I offer. But if you’ve ever wondered why gold plating wears off considerably faster than the gold plated on a watch band, it’s the different methodology.
      Send me pics and I’ll take a crack at estimating the price of gold plating your pieces.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  12. HIJAB on September 9, 2015 at 5:31 am

    Well Explained In Blog how Our Jewelry is renew through the gold platted coating.Explained well about the factors,repairing etc in blog.Very informative blog.

    • Calla Gold on September 9, 2015 at 7:08 am

      Hello from the Arab world,
      Thank you for your kind words. Please come by again.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  13. C h rigdon on December 27, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Can you gold plate a Pandora silver clasp on bracket and what would charge

    • Calla Gold on January 3, 2016 at 4:45 pm

      Hello Harley,
      I don’t see why a sterling silver Pandora clasp could not be gold plated. I’d guess $30.00.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  14. Kathy Tobacco on January 12, 2016 at 11:48 am

    Is re-gold plating a chain harder/more expensive? I have an old pendant necklace that could use some help. One pendant charm bangs against another which has worn off the plating. If the worn spot is plated, I fear that like the chain would need to be plated to match because overall the color has changed and doesn’t look new. I have own another piece that is fine but I am afraid to wear it because I have seen other necklaces just like mine being sold used that have terrible wear at the place where the charm (looks like a tiny purse) meets the bail. I wish there was a way of coating it with something that would prevent wear.

    • Calla Gold on January 13, 2016 at 6:42 am

      Hello Kathy,
      When we gold plate we don’t just plate one little section. Since gold plating involves immersion we plate the entire piece. Many times when a charm needs gold plating my clients will have me gold plate the charms that are worn with it so gold color-wise the look is cohesive. I do not know of a material that stops a plated piece from getting its plating worn away.
      That area where the bottom of the bail meets the top of the charm in plated pieces often turns black. I agree with you that it is not good looking. It’s not hurting the piece it’s just the place of maximum contact.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  15. Anthony Mcknight on February 19, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    How are you doing Ms.calla gold?
    I’m trying to get both of my necklaces and both of my charms rose gold plated … Is their a way I can email you the pictures?

    • Calla Gold on February 20, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      Hello Anthony,
      Yes I like to see your pictures so we can discuss your distance project.
      I have emailed you.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  16. Mary on May 23, 2016 at 7:11 am

    Can you gold plate two bronze wedding rings? We are casting our own rings and gold is just very expensive right now. How much do you think it would cost? Thank you!

    • Calla Gold on May 27, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Dear Mary,
      You can indeed plate two bronze wedding rings. If however the surface is smooth and you wear your rings daily which why wouldn’t you, the plating will wear away. The problem with bronze is it’s tendency to leave a blackish mark on your skin. I have reservations about this metal choice.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  17. Joi on July 30, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Hello, i would like to ask if it is possible to gold plate the entire pandora bracelet..? Would it smoothen out the design? Because there is like a fine lines on pandora bracelet. Which i’m afraid would smoothen out if you said that tou would immerse the entire jewelry in a gold solution.
    Thank you for the reply it would be of great help

    • Calla Gold on August 1, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      Hello Joi,
      My observation of fine lines like inscription engraving, has been that gold-plating does not fill them in. You should still be able to see the design and texture after plating.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  18. Kat on November 2, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Thank you for the article. My engagement ring is an antique peice and soon after I began wearing it, it got nasty pretty quickly. It makes me very sad, because the ring means a lot to me, as my fiancé is currently out of the country as a soldier, it’s one of my few physical connections to him while he’s away. You have no idea how happy the information in this article has made me. I’m so excited to get it restored, and thanks you for simplifying the process so we could better understand it.

    • Calla Gold on November 2, 2016 at 8:05 pm

      Dear Kat,
      I’m so pleased that you got comfort from the article. Gold plating will probably perk your ring up nicely. I understand the meaning that your ring from him has for you.
      Hopefully your soldierman will come back to you soon.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  19. Angel Ramos on February 22, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    I would like to get two bracelets gold plated and how could I go by it?

    • Calla Gold on February 24, 2017 at 8:57 am

      Hello Angel,
      Google – gold plating – your city. Or Gold plating – your state. That should tell you who provides this service near you. If that doesn’t work ship it to a jeweler who gold plates jewelry. I have people from areas of the country not served by platers ship to me. You should be able to find someone to help you.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  20. Angel Ramos on February 22, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    I have been looking to gold plated some bracelets I have for about 20-25 years. yes, gift from a love one.and some other things too.Hope it could be done cause I took one of them and made it into a picture holder.thats where my mother picture will go.god bless her in heaven.

    • Calla Gold on February 24, 2017 at 8:55 am

      Hello Angel,
      I love that you are honoring your mother in this way. I hope your gold plating project turns out well.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  21. Andrea Pennington on September 3, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    I have a question: I have a heavy gold colored choker chain necklace, bought at Talbots several years ago. The gold coating is wearing off, showing the darker base metal and making this pretty costume piece unusable. Can this be replayed, and, if so, what would be the approximate cost? The links are heavy, probably about 3/4 inch in diameter and it is short, choker length or about 16″ long.

  22. james sheehan on May 27, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    i have a military gold plated coast guard ring. Can i have it re-plated?

    • Calla Gold on May 28, 2018 at 8:20 am

      Hi James,
      I imagine that I can re-plate it. I’ve emailed you privately with a message.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  23. Kiebler on August 23, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    I don’t see any pricing? How much to white gold replayed over a about a 2”x2” eagle pendant? Or maybe dip it 2-3 times to make it 3x’s better?

  24. Linda Perez on September 9, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    Hi…I have a delicate bracelet that the rose gold plating has worn off. It’s a tennis bracelet with 1-2 mm stones…they are tiny. The bracelet is 925 silver. I’m wanting to know what this plating process might cost. It is a 7 in bracelet.

    • Calla Gold on September 10, 2018 at 6:31 am

      Hello Linda,
      If the entire bracelet is to be plated with the rose gold, I’d say maybe in the range of $75.00 to $95.00. I suspect that the re-plating cost may equal the cost of the bracelet.
      Rose gold plating often does not last as long as yellow gold or white rhodium plating.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

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