Partial Gilding

Hi Julie,

I am an English goldsmith and have been in the trade for 44 years.
When I was first starting in the trade fire gilding was legal, but it
is not now illegal for health reasons in this country. "Partial Fire
Gilding"as it is called over here was a process of dissolving fine
gold in mercury, making a paste which was painted on the surface of
sections of a silver article. Heating the whole painted article over
a heat source evaporated the mercury leaving a coating of fine gold
on the sections painted, these sections were then burnished bright,
this is where the term Partial Gilding comes from. (parts are gilt) A
modern version is available that gives a similar effect via electro
plating / gilding. This method requires the use of a barrier chemical
painted onto the surfaces that you do not want gilt, then the whole
item is electro gilt, leaving the painted areas silver, and when the
barrier solution is cleaned off the final appearance is partial

I hope this makes sense to you.

Regards James Miller

Hello James,

Thank you very much for your detailed response! It is a shame that
the fire gilding is no longer possible to do, as it creates very
unique and beautiful results! I will definitely look into the
barrier chemical, and electro plating/ gilting that you discussed. I
looked in my tool catalogs in the plating section and there are a
few laquer masks available. Would this be the barrier you are
speaking of?

Thank you once again for your words of wisdom!

Best Regards,