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Gold plating vs. Keum boo vs. Bi-metal



I love the look of gold and silver, eventually I will work with
solid white and yellow gold if possible. Today I use only keum boo
and bi-metal. I am interested being able to add gold to more textured
surfaces which is not easy with keum boo. I am also looking for a
cost effective way to do this.

My questions are:

  1. Is pen plating vs. masking areas and doing regular plating better
    for the one woman studio?

  2. What do I need to know to ensure I understand and correctly apply
    the gold? I ordered the Rio Grande DVDs and Midas Book to help me
    learn but would value your input.

  3. What is the difference in thickness of the gold application
    between plate, bi-metal, and keum boo? (FYI I learned keum boo with
    the dvds by Christine Deihn which are fabulous).

  4. If I use 22K bi-metal I list the piece as being 22K Gold,
    Sterling Silver, etc. Is this correct?

Looking forward to your valuable responses!

Lynn Vernon Designs, Metal & Stone


Lynn. I apply Keum Boo over textured surfaces and have had not
problems. I took the Keum Boo workshop with Komelia Okim, and she had
us work on textured surfaces, and pointed out that the texture gave
the surface a tooth which helped in adhering the gold. I just keep
burnishing until there is a perfect fusion. We did it on roller
printed surfaces as well as on reticulated surfaces.

In fact, I just got finished applying some gold on a reticulated
surface this afternoon, and it took beautifully. The gold just sort
of molded itself into the various depressions.

Alma Rands


One more question for my post:

Why do you have to use nickel as a base before plating and does that
cause problems for people with allergies to nickel?


Why do you have to use nickel as a base before plating and does
that cause problems for people with allergies to nickel? 

Gold and silver are completely soluable in each other, and even at
room temperature, over time, each will slowly diffuse into the other.
So a thin gold electroplate applied onto silver will appear to fade
in color over time, as the gold diffuses down into the silver, and at
the same time, silver diffuses up through the gold layer. The alloy
at the surface literally changes from the original pure gold, to one
with increasing amounts of silver, so it’s paler and paler in color.
This doesn’t happen overnight, of course, but rather usually over a
period of years. How many depends on how thick the gold layer is. If
it’s thick enough, it might never be noticable, but that would be an
unusually thick gold electroplate. Using nickle as a barrier between
the silver and the gold prevents this diffusion of each into the
other, so the original gold color is maintained over time. As to
allergies to the nickle, if the gold is removed by abrasion,
polishing, or whatever, exposing the nickle, then of course it might
be a problem if in contact with skin. Decorative use of this,
instead of Keum Boo, however, might be only on the exterior portions
of a piece of jewelery, rather than the parts in contact with skin,
so then that wouldn’t likely be a problem. Also, if the gold layer is
thick enough, and it usually would be if it’s thick enough to look
good as a rich gold color, then the gold layer itself would isolate
the nickle underneath from the skin. While theoretically this
protection might not be perfect and infalliable, in practice it’s
likely enough. Not sure about european regulations, though…