Plating Dogtag

I wonder if any of you has run into the problem of gold plating
military dogtags. It seems this is being done often these days so
the finished item can be presented as a memento to a loved one. A
customer has asked me to do this for him and I’ve run into a brick
wall. Nothing I’ve tried seems to work, so maybe one of you knows
how it’s done.

At first I thought the tag was made of aluminum but it reacts to a
magnet. I took it to a professional jewelry plater in Los Angeles who
had no success either. He said he thought he could plate it first
with nickel and copper, then gold. I don’t know exactly what
problems he ran into but when I returned from a Thanksgiving trip it
was in my mailbox with a note saying he “couldn’t do a nice job” with
it. I should mention that the plater in question works almost
exclusively with precious metals, doing mostly gold and rhodium, so
plating base metal may be a little out of his scope.

Since this is intended as a Christmas gift time is short and I’m out
of ideas. Any help will be appreciated.

Rick Martin

    I wonder if any of you has run into the problem of gold
plating military dogtags. 

Hello Rick;

I suspect the dog tag is stainless steel. It can be plated, but first
it has to be subjected to an “activator”. These compounds are sold by
most companies that carry plating supplies. The activator solution is
used just as if it were a plating solution. After that, a nickel base
plate, then the gold, should suffice. It may be necessary to use
activator, then a copper flash, then the nickel and the subsequent
gold plating. I’m limited in my knowlege of plating. I’m certain
you’d need the activator, but not sure whether the copper would be

David L. Huffman