Enamelling on a good gold plating


I’m hoping that some enamellers out there - or trade platers etc -
might be able to help me with this… Is it possible to enamel on a
good plating of gold? If you have a silver item and have it plated
with a high karat gold to a good micron thickness, can it be
enamelled as if it was gold? Or will the plating disappear into the
silver with subsequent firings?

If it is possible, would any preparation need to be done to the piece
beforehand? If the piece incorporated both sterling and plated gold
and I wanted to depletion gild the sterling by bright dipping it in
nitric, would the gold plate survive? OR, if I had the piece plated
in BOTH fine silver and gold, would that suffice for the enamelling
process? Would there then be no need to raise a fine silver skin?
Since surely a plated fine silver surface would have a thicker layer
than a bright dipped or depletion gilded surface??

If anyone has any thoughts on this, or experience, I would be very
grateful for a heads up! :0)


The gold will diffuse into the silver, the question would be can you
get someone to plate enough gold to avoid all of it diffusing in to
the silver. You would probably need something in excess of 20
microns which is a super heavy gold plate.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

If you can depletion gild your sterling piece well enough to enamel,
you could gold plate the remaining silver after enameling. You can
also gold plate copper items. The better prepared, that is the
better polished, your piece is before plating; the better the
plating. The plating does not disguise anything, so bring it to a
mirror finish.


No matter what you do when you work with enamel (especially
transparent and translucent), it is always a good idea to completely
deplete your silver or your gold (unless you are working with 24K or
fine silver). Any contamination from other metals except platinum
will react with the pigments in your enamel. In order to obtain
optimal results, I always do this.

I am not sure about your heavy plating idea as I have never done it
but it does not sound like a good idea to me as I am afraid that the
plating might disappear with the multiple firings.

Why not use the traditional 24K gold leaf method sandwiched between
layers of enamel?

You would first fire a very thin layer of transparent high melting
point enamel onto which you will apply your sheet of gold with a
paint brush and some clearfire so it sticks. Fire again and prick
any large blister with a thin needle and gently press the blisters so
your gold surface is as smooth as possible. You want to minimize air
bubbles trapped in between your first enamel layer and the gold leaf
or paillon. Then enamel on top of it with the colors of your choice.

The reason why you still want to deplete your metal is that you don
want the edges to have a different color imparted by the alloys
reacting with your pigments.

If you want to have the silver plated after the enameling process
when your piece is finished, it is a possibility depending on the
kind of enamel you are using. I would always have a sample to try as
some enamels could get duller in the plating procedure. In most cases
there is no alteration of the enamel.

I hope that it helps.

Enamelling on a good gold plating Two thoughts for you.

  1. Why not use gold foil IN the enamel process? Fire an undercoat
    and when cool cover with 24kt gold foil made for this purpose. Then
    proceed with whatever colors you want for the finished look of the
    enamel. I believe you could then safely plate whatever metal remains

  2. why not experiment with some plated scrap?

Marianne Hunter


Thanks for some of the suggestions coming through… One thing I’ll
just say is that the 24kt Gold foil option is not giving a look I’m
after… its not smooth enough or thick enough or able to really
imitate the look of a gold surface that has been enamelled…

I think some of the plated scraps suggestions are the way to go
here… I’m also considering electroplating - which will leave a layer
of metal (bonded to the silver) as opposed to a micron!

I think that the plating is going to dissipate after multiple
firings, much like keum boo does… Not sure what reaction this might
have UNDER enamel colour though… need to test it out!

Some of you have raised a point that was my next question - Plating
a piece that has been enamelled… Any takers? :slight_smile:

How does one prepare for this and make sure it doesn’t destroy the
enamelling done?? Presumably it can be done, because it is done on
lots of things…

thanks everyone!

Regarding using 24K gold foil. Most commercial gold foil is quite
thin. So you might want to try rolling your own to a desired
thickness. I roll mine, burnish it so that it is smooth, then, anneal
it so that it is soft and pliable. Next, I apply it to my fine silver
base, over which I have applied and fired a coat of flux. Then after
I have fired the gold foil onto the base, I again burnish it to make
it nice and smooth. As I am working with a fairly thick piece of
foil, it will not tear. Sorry, I never measured it to determine the
thickness. I go by feel.


I’d just give plating after enameling a try, I think it will work
without problems. You could do these experiments faster than waiting
for a reply on orcid. Have you tried the Enamelist Sociey? For gold
foil: I’ve noticed that the gold foil for enameling has become so
thin as to be really difficult. At Joan Schlaiffer’s I bought a
thicker foil ( maybe for keum boo?) that is much better! Enamels do
change over multiple firings and will react with metals. You can get
some great repeatable effects.

Marianne Hunter

I just ran a test with my local plater- I tried many different
colors and brands of enamel on the sample sheet and there was no
effect on any of the enamel. I only plated it with 14K - 18k and
higher karat require a bit more heat - but I think it will work

Sharon Kaplan