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Plating vintage jewelry


#1

One of my customers keeps asking about replating/refinishing some
vintage costume jewelry she has acquired. Does anyone know a place
where she can send it to be plated? Is it even possible to replate
this type of jewelry?

Thanks,
Christen
Studio at BlackWaterSiren dot com


#2

One thing you and the customer might need to discuss is if and when
it is ‘right’ to renovate a vintage piece using plating technology
that was not around at the time the piece was made. Numerous bits of
early 19th century gold jewellery have been ‘ruined’ by being
electroplated ‘to brighten them up’ and I recently saw a fine c. 1910
platinum watch that had been rhodium plated for the same reasons
(rhodium plating wasn’t used until the 1930s). Plating is sometimes
just a cheap and easy way to avoid more laborious finishing
techniques. Costume jewellery that was plated originally poses even
more complex questions - if the original plating is wearing through,
then some sort of replating may be a necessity if the present
appearance is more important to the owner than the historical
integrity of the piece. But would it be OK to electroplate a piece
that was originally gold clad?

There is no law against any type of renovation, but careful thought
is advisable in all cases where modern finishing technology is
applied to an old piece. On a major object wrong plating could
greatly detract from value, on a poor condition piece it might be the
only thing to do to save it from the scrap box. It is all a balance
between appearance, ‘wearability’ and the integrity of the piece. As
with customers should be given the facts and choices when
they ask a jeweller to renovate one of their pieces and be told about
’treatments’ such as modern plating when they are buying.

Jack Ogden