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Electroplating and Gemstones


#1

I am interested in gold-plating a ring I’ve made. The ring has 4 large prongs and will hold a cabochon ruby that has been filled but I don’t know the exact detail. If I gold plate the ring before I set the stone, I risk the plating cracking on the prongs when they are bent to hold the stone in place. This happened to another of my rings that is set with carnelian. Time will tell what happens with the cracked plating.

My question is, is it safe to subject a treated ruby to plating? I know that diamonds do fine and organic stones like coral will be damaged. I’d love a comprehensive list for reference if anyone has the experience to put one together.

Many thanks in advance for any advice!
Anne


#2

It depends on the plating solution you are using. Most gold solutions have to be heated. Heat is the enemy of filled rubies. Also I hope that this ring is for display only. Plating is only microns thick and will wear off on a ring in a very short time.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#3

If we are talking about glass filled ruby then you are not going to have a problem. Plating solution only needs to be warm not hot. 150 degrees at the most. That will have no effect on the filler. You can size them if you are careful with the heat. You just can’t retip on them.


#4

John- I’m very cautious about filled rubies. Maybe too cautious but then I
would never size a filled ruby unless it was done with a laser.
I’ve also seen them come out of the sonic and/or pickle looking nothing
like they did when they went in. Regardless of the heat, if the plating
bath is acid t’s not going to be good for the stone.
Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#5

I on a very regular basis size rings with much more heat sensitive stones than glass filled rubies with out a laser and have since before lasers were invented. These skills were taught to me 40 years ago when I was trained. There are risks with every thing we do at the bench including lasers. The key is to have the skills and knowledge to minimise the risks. There are ph nuetral gold plating solutions and they only need to be slightly warm. Not hot at all. Electo cleaning solution that is used before plating is also just warm not hot.


#6

Thank you everyone! I ended up just setting the ruby in the argentium ring and will probably keep it silver. The next ring I make I will use as a trial for gold plating over argentium. I do intend to wear the ring after it has been plated in order to test its durability. Hopefully a thick enough layer might hold up to typical wear, although I will have to trust the person plating it as far as how many microns actually end up being plated onto the metal.

I love the look of gold but find that gold-filled is just too difficult to use in pieces that call for multiple solder joins as well as exposed core metal. The pieces I’m making right now are for myself so, alas, are not worth spending the money on karat gold.

Thank you for your expert feedback!
Anne


#7

Anne- I used to plate things for a living. Plating is only microns thick.
By all means, feel free to experiment, but trust a crusty old veteran. It
won’t last in every day wear on a ring. If it’s just for personal wear go
for it. I have done it myself but only for a piece I was going to wear
maybe once or twice.
We don’t even rhodium plate white gold. We figure if folks want true white
they will step up to platinum.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
-Jo Haemer