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Gold plating fine silver for enameling


#1

I have a fine silver piece that I would like to plate with 24k gold
so I can then enamel the piece. I wish to gild the silver because I
do primarily basse taille pieces and I need to be able to apply
warmer colors directly onto the surface without the use of a clear
enamel first. I’m looking around at my options and I was hoping for
a little wisdom and guidance from this list. Unless I pay a pro to do
this for me (which is a little rich for me on my budget,) I’m
looking at pen plating. I know gold foil is often used, but I’m
concerned about there being a crinkled texture under the transparent
enamel and I just do not want that type of texture, I’d like a
smoother look. I’ve also tried Keum Boo in the past, and I’ve had
difficulty with that technique on curved surfaces. So I guess my
question is this. Will, or can pen plating provide an adequate gold
surface for enameling? I’m trying to figure out if pen plating is a
practical solution, as I’d prefer not to mess around with gold foil.
If I decide that plating is a good fit for me, I’d be happy to
graduate to home electroplating baths, but as this is a prototype,
I’d like to keep it on the cheaper end of things, $100 (or less) if
possible. Also, I wanted to know if I can pen plate directly onto
fine silver, or would I have to nickel plate or something first?


#2

I would have answered this sooner but I had hoped that someone had
better answers than I did. I really, really wanted to read them. I
got a pen plater from Caswell (no cyanide). It really does not like
sterling.

Two days ago I got the Midas plating guide from Rio. It says that
the gold solutions WILL plate over silver but will discolor or
tarnish. They do not differentiatebetween sterling or fine silver.
There may or may not be one.

The book says that one should first plate the silver with Bright
Nickel Pen Plating Solution and then gold it.

I need a solution for the same reason you do - warm color enamels on
a silver piece. Yup ! That’s what I want and I have got a bazillion
new grey hairs trying to get them right. I have also polished an
expanded vocabulary.

Let us communicate further with our wins and losses.

Justine


#3

You will not be able to plate thick enough deposits of gold for this
to work. The gold will diffuse into the silver this is why high
quality plating is done with a copper then nickel barrier layers
between the gold and silver. The rate of diffusion is increased by
heat so when you heat up the plated article the gold literally
disappears into the silver matrix. The barrier layers will not
survive the firing process either.

Why don’t you try keum-bo? This will apply a thick enough layer of
gold and may survive the firing.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#4

Justine,

I talked to the folks at CIM in Tucson regarding whether I need to
pen plate with nickel first. Because according to the plating book
it said I needed to. But, when talking the guy selling and
representing the Midas Plating system from Rio he said No I should
be able to just plate directly over the sterling or fine silver and
he showed me how to do it.

Here is another question. You want to enamel over plating? Can we do
that without burning the plating off? In order to get the warm hues
of gold I have using gold foil under my enamels and over my fine
silver.

jennifer friedman
http://www.jenniferfriedmanstudio.com
enamelist, jewelry artisan, hollow ware,
ceremonial silver, and restoration
Ventura, CA


#5

I’ve been waiting for more on this subject as well. I was wondering
if the plating will hold up to the heat of enameling?

Dennis Smith - thejewelmaker


#6

Dear Jennifer and all,

talked to the folks at CIM in Tucson regarding whether I need to
pen plate with nickel first. Because according to the plating book
it said I needed to. But, when talking the guy selling and
representing the Midas Plating system from Rio he said No I should
be able to just plate directly over the sterling or fine silver
and he showed me how to do it. 

I’m perplexed as to why you were told that and I apologize for any
miss you received. I know that because space is limited
at shows and for instant gratification we will sometimes skip the
nickel plating and go straight to gold. Perhaps we should revisit
that to prevent any future confusion.

As far as plating gold directly over sterling, fine silver, brass,
copper, etc, yes you can do that. However the problem occurs when
the item either oxidizes or there is bleed through. When the parent
metal eventually oxidizes it will show through the single layer of
plating as a gray stain or discoloration. Bleed through typically
happens when you have soldered and pickled the item, the microscopic
pores in the metal and solder seams retain some pickle, then when
the item is warmed up the pickle expands and leaches out creating
spotting, or small discoloration spots, possibly leading to worse
results over time. A nickel preplate will help prevent these
situations.

Here is another question. You want to enamel over plating? Can we
do that without burning the plating off? 

As far as plating prior to enameling, I can’t find any concrete
evidence it is worth while. Risky at best in my opinion, and after
reading Jim Binnion’s post it doesn’t seem likely to work out. I’d
be interested in hearing others experiences on this subject.

It’s good to back home in beautiful NM!

Sincerely,

Thackeray Taylor
Rio Grande Technical Support
800-545-6566
505-839-3000 ex 13903
technicalsupport@tbg.riogrande.com


#7

If you are unable to get the plating to work for you but you still
need gold as a backing, I have experimented with Bi-metal (gold and
sterling) from Houser and Miller and find that I can enamel on it
easily, it is more expensive than foil, which I also like, and it
can be embossed or texturized as you like.

Louise Pass


#8

Thankyou Thackeray for that I had previously purchased
the nickel plating solution, and had asked at CIM if it was
necessary. The person selling and representing the pen plating took
a sterling ring and directly gold plated. So, now I know that I
still need to use the nickel plate first. thank you for saving me
unnecessary problems in the future.

I know we can always count on you and your fellow hard workers in
technical support. I do. So, for the rest of you out there - Have a
problem call Rio and they will help you.

jennifer friedman
http://www.jenniferfriedmanstudio.com
enamelist, jewelry artisan, hollow ware,
ceremonial silver, and restoration
Ventura, CA


#9
Why don't you try keum-bo? This will apply a thick enough layer of
gold and may survive the firing. 

I can’t speak for Justine, but my issue with fluxing and gold
foiling or straight keum bo for the warm colors, is that I tend to
create mostly basse-taille pieces and I’m concerned that I’d lose too
much of the surface detail that I’ve so lovingly created. Also, I
don’t wish to apply clear flux under the red, because it kinda
defeats the purpose of basse-taille, I won’t get quite the same
effect as the clear doesn’t give me the same results as different
thicknesses of colored enamel on the same piece does.

However, from the feedback I’ve gotten from Ganoksin, and the
enamelist yahoo group (primarily from Alan Heywood of Heywood
Enamels) it seems that plating is not the answer for a few key
reasons. The primary reason, as it has been mentioned, is that the
gold would diffuse into the silver at the temps that the enamels are
fired at. Then when I suggested perhaps applying an under plate of
nickel, I was told definitely no go. Not sure why, but perhaps
there’s an issue with the COE of nickel?

So, I’m back to finding a red that can be applied directly to fine
silver without a significant color shift. This used to be the famous
Aoki 105B, but that is no more-and I’ve had time to mourn over its
tragic demise. I’ve already tried LT95, and that turned orange on the
first coat and the second coat turned a completely uninteresting
brown, with hints of red. I have one more red to try, a Ninomiya
G704, which I’m hoping might work better. After that, I’ll see if I
have better luck with the Schauer reds sigh. However, I suspect
I might have to abandon this particular design, unless I find that
elusive red. Anyone have thoughts on a red that can be fired directly
onto silver without turning brown?

Now, if I worked in cloisonne, this wouldn’t be nearly as big a
deal-I’d simply flux it and be done with it…

-c

PS. Thackeray, I attended your PMC soldering seminar at the
conference last year. It was very enlightening. I still hate
soldering it, but I appreciated the effort that was put into the
testing…


#10
I can't speak for Justine, but my issue with fluxing and gold
foiling or straight keum bo for the warm colors, is that I tend to
create mostly basse-taille pieces and I'm concerned that I'd lose
too much of the surface detail that I've so lovingly created. 

With the basse-taille maybe what you need is a bi-metal of 18-22k
gold over fine silver. Remove the gold in the areas you don’t want it
and leave it in the areas you do. the gold can be removed via
abrasion or etching.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#11

Colin,

Have you tried the enamelist society regarding your 105B? Someone
there might have your enamel and be willing to sell it.

jennifer friedman
http://www.jenniferfriedmanstudio.com
Ventura, CA


#12

First of all, great suggestions about alternatives to gold plating.
But the reason these aren’t for me, is I am enameling PMC, rather
than engraving or etching sheet silver. PMC is fantastic for
basse-taille and champlev=e, and I’ve come up with some pretty nice
stuff with it (if I do say so myself…)

Second, after some more testing, I found another red that fires just
fine onto silver. It’s G704 from Nihon Shippo. The color is actually
more a raspberry red, but, when I layered a Japanese N6 over it, it
looked fantastic! So, for anyone out there that is sad over the loss
of 105B, layering G704 under N6, looks almost just like 105B
(actually a tiny bit better, to my eyes.) I was in class doing this
experiment, and you should have heard the yelling when we discovered
that G704 fired perfectly fine over naked fine silver.

Lastly, I did place an ad with the Enamelist Society’s website
looking for 105B, but so far, no one’s came forward with any. I
suspect this stuff may not have been on the market long enough to
have been stockpiled by anyone-not to mention, this was one of the
more expensive reds out there. Also, as gorgeous as 105B is, N6 is
far more beautiful, and I have a feeling there might not be that many
people who require warm colors that can be fired directly onto
silver. Heck, I’m offering up some out of make Thompson’s Lead
bearing as bait, and still no one’s replied to my ad.

Once again, I wanted to thank this list for the suggestions, I’ve
gotten some great info from this list, and I will totally file away
some of the suggestions I got for future use.


#13

Anytime, I would gold plate on silver I always would do a pre-plate
of nickel. it would protect the items and allow the gold to hold
better to the nickel rather then the silver

Andy “The Tool Guy” Kroungold