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Can't be 24K Gold?

Hi everybody

When selling, I always try to be upfront and honest with customers
on materials. With that said, I am having a hard time with a
particular bead I am using right now.

It is a “seed” bead, produced in Japan and plated with either
palladium or what is represented as 24k gold. Samples are shown here

To me, the golden ones cannot be 24k gold plated because 1. They are
too shiny 2. After a few months, they take on a little oxidation and
become “antiqued” looking.

I should say that these are not expensive necklaces, so changing to
a more expensive material (right now) is not practical.

I wondered if they could be 24k gold plated and then
lacquered…but, if this is so, why would they oxidize? I also
wonder (because I don’t yet know a lot about plating) if there is a
plating solution under the gold (to make the gold adhere to the glass
bead inside) that could be causing the oxidation?

Its important to me to be able to speak about this material (I have
2 upcoming shows) in some kind of effective way. I tried asking the
supplier and his reply was "it is a heavy 24k gold plating that is
’baked on’ "…that doesn’t really make any sense at all

Thanks for any insight

Kim Starbard

Hi Kim,

If the bead is glass then electro plating is out as glass is non
conductive, so you’re left with chemical plating, there are two main
options one is IIRC photo driven using a halide salt (sort of like
blank and white photography), the other is a mercury gold paste which
is then backed to boil off the mercury and leave a gold film on the
bead (this method has been in use for some 3000 odd years mainly in

I would hazard that if the chemical/photo method was used then there
could be contamination present, but yeah 24K gold shouldn’t “age or
antique”, but will take on the EXACT surface finish of what it’s
plated onto, so for glass it will be VERY shiny.

Well that is about all I can add to this, hope it’s some help.

Oh yeah, just a thought, they aren’t copper plated underneath the
gold by any chance? If they are then they could be electro plated
with gold after the copper is deposited. This way you could get a way
with a very thin gold layer, which it too thin will let the copper
oxidize and so produce and antiqued surface with time…


his reply was "it is a heavy 24k gold plating that is 'baked on'
"....that doesn't really make any sense at all though..... 

Actually, it does… “Plating” is a little misleading, perhaps, but
gold is commonly painted onto glass and ceramic surfaces then baked
(or fired) on. I used to do this myself. I don’t know the
composition of the liquid (referred to as “luster”) but the end
result is a thin layer of pure gold.

It should not oxidise, though.


24K gold shouldn't "age or antique", 

24k, being highly malleable, scratches very easily and ages. My
wedding band is 24k and if I polish it today, it’ll be old &
scratched (aged and antiqued) by next week.

Kim - Feel free to Email me directly on this, but there are several
different types of gold on seed beads - Galvanized, 22k and 24k. None
of them are “baked” on - they are fumed on. That said, the
durability can be very different. Country of origin plays a factor in
this, and company of manufacture is also a factor. I’ve operated my
business for almost 25 years and seed beads are a major portion of my
business, so I’d be happy to try and help you figure out exactly
what you are using.

Sandi Graves, Beadin’ Up A Storm
Stormcloud Trading Co (Beadstorm)

Hi Kim,

I have used a product called Glass Gold by Hanovia to paint on fused
glass and glass beads. It is painted on then kiln fired. It has never
tarnished though.


A couple points to remember. Shiny is simply surface finish. You
can’t tell if it’s gold or not, or the quality, by the degree of
shine. A plated or otherwise applied gold finish could be either
dull, a bright sheen, or highly polished, depending on how it’s
applied, and over what surface.

Gold plating is often put on in quite thin layers, for obvious
reasons. Even a heavy gold electroplate can be a bit porous, or
permiable to both oxygen, and slow migration of substrate metals. If
you gold electroplate directly over silver, for example, over a few
years the gold color will greatly fade or disspear, as the gold
diffuses into the silver, and the silver diffuses up through the
gold. Gold plate directly over copper, and the finish can tarnish.
it’s a 24K gold plate, but it’s thin, and the copper underneath can
oxidize directly through the gold, affecting the appearance of the
gold. Thin plated layers simply should not be thought of in the same
terms of permanence as solid metal.

A “baked on” gold finish suggests the sort of gold material used in
ceramics. It’s a finely divided gold salt in a liquid binder. You
paint it on. When dried and fired, like a ceramic glaze, the binders
burn off and the salt reduces, leaving a thin gold layer bonded to
the material, which will have whatever surface finish (including very
shiny) that the underlying material has. Especially if not fired hot
enough, the result is sometimes not quite a durable as one might
expect a gold electroplate on metal to be, and it can flake off a
little over time. Since glass beads are not conductive, this might
be how your gold is applied. When you see gold decoration on china,
and often glass, this is often how it’s done. Alternatively, if it
was actually electroplated (with or without subsequent baking, which
might have some benefit on glass, though I don’t know that), then it
needed some sort of conductive layer first, to allow the
electroplating action. That’s usuaully some base metal applied as a
paint, or chemically applied, and if the gold is thin, then you could
get oxidation throught it.

In short, the question is probably not whether it’s 24K gold. If
they say it is, it probably is. The real question is how is it
applied, and how durable is it. I’d suggest simply describing to your
customers how they can expect it to appear after a bit of time.

Also, as to a lacquer over the gold, it occurs to me that some
gold/glass beads are hollow, with the gold being on the inside, not
the outside. Lasts a lot longer since it’s protected from abrasion.
But dirt inside the beads, if the gold isn’t thick, can affect the

Hope that’s of use.
Peter Rowe

Hi everybody

Oh yeah, just a thought, they aren't copper plated underneath the
gold by any chance? If they are then they could be electro plated
with gold after the copper is deposited. 

Thanks so much for helping me with my gold bead question…

There is a way to contact the Miyuki company directly. Now, I feel
like I have enough to ask intelligent questions.

It seems the beads can either be fumed (most likely) or
electroplated if they had been coated with copper first. The company
does also carry copper coated beads so they may very well be
electroplated. I broke a couple and looked at them under the
magnifier. I couldn’t see any copper, but that doesn’t mean much
(they were black just like you thought Sandi). I also rubbed them
against denim fabric for a long time and found that they did not
abrade at all. I also could not scratch them with an awl or the edge
of my cutters.

Placing one of those anti-tarnish strips in the box for the customer
might be a good thing to do. I will try polishing one with a
polishing cloth to see if it restores shine well. Darn polishing
cloth is always disappearing though…

Thanks again,
Kim Starbard