Dubious Plating Service - Gold on Sterling - My Mistake or Theirs?


I have almost no experience with gold plated items, not even on the other side of the bench. But a client wanted to try gold plating one of my sterling rings, and I found a place that quoted $20, assured me it was heavy plate, at least 1 micron thick. I was happy with what appeared to be a nice, high karat finish. A few small scratches (which I’m not sure what I can do about, another question). I was not asked what karat, I’d guess it’s 22k or better.

So I had the ring plated, then set the stone, and went about carving the intaglio. I was very careful how I held the ring, and while abrasive was used on the stone, it did not touch the metal except as dust or in the rinse water.

In the morning, I have a look and the plate, it’s just terrible! I took a plain wool felt buff and just lightly passed it over the terrible areas, and it just made it worse.

Did I mess up? Is plating always going to be that touchy? Did I miss an important step, such as a clear rhodium coating? Did I receive dubious service?

Thanks very much,


If I remember correctly, one needs to plate the silver with nickel and copper before

plating with gold. Sounds like this was a flash plating or it was not properly prepared.

3 microns is the minimum I would use, especially on a ring… Where are you located?

You might contact Tanury (google them) and see if they will take such a small order.


highly recommended. I have never used them myself, but I know several high end jewelers who do.

However, you now have a stone to deal with…the stone may have to be masked before you can plate the ring again or the temperature of the solution may have to be considered. D.

Thank you for your valuable reply.

I have gold plated a number of sterling silver items with great success, directly over the silver. The flawed surface in your photo looks to me like a coating, which has been applied over the gold plating in order to protect it. There are various clear coats which can be applied and it depends upon which one was used as to how it can be removed. It might be worth trying something as simple as acetone. (avoid the stone of course!)

By the way, I love your carving! Such talent and skill! Wow!

Just a thought. Because of all the action and rubbing on a ring plating has to be thick and well done

The fault is yours because gold plating should have been the very last step. You do understand how thin a micron is correct. And I don’t care who plates it, it’s going to wear off in a matter of a few weeks. I have gold plated lots of earrings and pendants and put a clear powder coat over the top to protect it and it will last for a year or more. But rings? No way, it just subjected to to much wear and tear. And there is no such thing as clear rhodium. Rhodium is a platinum family metal that we plate on white gold to make it look whiter.

Agreed that plating should be the last step because too much could go wrong while setting the stones. But since hindsight is 20/20, I’d recommend sending it back to the plater to get re-plated, and go much thicker on the plating. I’ve had platers remove the old plating and re-do it, and you might want to go up to 2.5-3 microns or more. I find I have to be very transparent with my customers about how long plating will last, and as long as they know what they’re getting into they’re usually ok with it (especially when they compare the cost to solid gold, though your clientele may be different).