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Processes of gold wash


Can anyone tell me what the materials/processes for gold wash may
be? I’ve seen the reference in several books I have, some of which
are for enameling, as well as on some internet resources.

What is this?
Thanks in return!


It is another name for gold plating in which a micro-coating of gold
is electronically deposited onto a base metal or fine silver ( then
it’s called vermeil).All you need is an electrical current, a
rheostat and the solutions (which karat golds you wish to wash/
plate onto your bases), if you do it in a stainless steel bain
type restaurant pan it acts as the cathode and the pen or
whatever device you use for the application - as long as you attach a
gold wire in the same karat, becomes your anode (i use an empty
marker that has a clean felt in the reservoir for this process. You
can make your own out of any tube, or a used up marks-a-lot type pen,
that you replace the inked felt with a clean felt onto which you drop
your plating solution (or you can saturate it by soaking it breifly
in the solution- but that uses more than you probably need for a
small piece, and holds enough - fully saturated- for a couple of 1/2"
cuff bracelets to be plated, washed or d’ore’d (pronounced:
door-ay-d) on both sides and edges…all those terms mean the same
thing: a micro-thin flash of gold is deposited onto the piece of
jewelry. Gold filled is a heavier bonded on layer of gold, in that is
1/20th % fine gold as a comparisson to the 1/1000th of an inch
coating in plating, washing or d’ore… Hope that clarifies it for


Hi Jeni:

It’s generally a silversmith’s finish. It’s sort of 'traditional’
for the insides of silver goblets. I’ve got a couple of pieces that
were gold washed on my website.

Links here:

It’s the insides of the goblets. It gives a nice contrast, and a
wonderful fiery glow to the insides of the bowls.

As I understood it from the plater, it’s just a thin 24K gold. Not a
full-on thick plate, just a thin ‘wash’ of gold. I had one of those
done in London, and one in the US, so platers on both sides of the
pond are familiar with the idea, but I picked up the habit from my
silversmithing tutor in London.

It’s thin, so I’m not sure it’d survive enameling, but it’d be one
way to get around some of those nasty 'enamel-hates-silver’

Actually, now that I think of it, both of those goblets are
sterling, so there’s no nickel or copper strike under the gold, it’s
just gold- on-silver, which is what you’d need to have a hope of it
not blowing up during enameling. (Nickel or copper would react at
temp. Not good.) Methinks that what they’re actually meaning by
’wash’ is just gold over silver, with no strike layers under it.

That being said, a simple way to get the same effect without needing
to find a plater would be to kum-boo the silver enamel piece. Kum-
boo’s a Korean technique much written about in the Orchid archives,
that lets you weld thin foils of gold down onto silver pieces. Much
thicker than any plate, thus more likely to survive repeated firings
without diffusing into nothing.

For whatever that all’s worth.

Brian Meek.


A few years ago I had to gold plate a large (14"X6") piece for a
reenactor, I used the modified technique I found in ‘Practical
Goldsmith No9 New Techniques’. It is pen plating but using a carbon
rod wrapped in cotton wool to apply the liquid. I used a carbon rod
out of a small battery and blowtorched to get rid of the chemicals.
It too a bit of time, to begin with I was not getting a good colour
so I brass brush it under running water and then caried on. this
seemed to make a big difference. After that it was very successful.
It meant that I did not need a large bath of plating solution. I
used pen plating solution as I understand that it has a higher
concentration of gold, I do not really understand the finer points of
this, if it works it works.

regards Tim Blades.

it's just gold- on-silver, which is what you'd need to have a hope
of it not blowing up during enameling. (Nickel or copper would
react at temp. Not good.) 

Missed the start of this one, sorry if this has been covered.

With thin plating, a high heat process will destroy the effect and
the gold will disappear. I had a series where a thin high carat gold
plating in recesses burnt off when soldering.

I have used 22ct pmc-type paint (?Aura 22 possibly) which was fired
on to the sterling as instructions, then enamelled after. This was OK
on the piece I tried.

Another possibility is to use any enamel as a base coat, then cover
completely with a gold or fine silver foil, fire the foil in and
then proceed with your visible enamel coats.

best wishes