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Protecting Gold Plating from Wearing Off

Dear All,

I work with 18k gold jewellery that needs to have the colour of 22k gold…with the gold price rising the customer is looking for the look/colour of 22k but wants to pay for 18k!!

My concern is that once the plating wears off it will look dull. Is there a way to prevent the plating from wearing off by some kind of a clear, abrasive resistant coating so that it is a good solution for the customer.

Your knowledge generosity will be much appreciated.


Depletion gilding will bring up the high karat color. Do no plate. Any kind of “coating” to try and protect it will in my opinion cheapen the perceived value of the piece.

Could you please guide me on what is depletion gilding. Thanks in advance.

If you Google “depletion gilding” and/or “depletion silvering” you’ll find several much more articulate answers than I can provide, including answers from Ganoksin. It’s a very simple process once you understand what’s happening.

Hi Hema,

You might want to look into a plater who’s able to adjust the final color. My own plater uses 18k quality gold but formulated it to look 14k for me.

Also, the unfortunate reality is that plating will always wear away, it’s just a matter of when. Even adding a protective coat on top will only extend its life by a little bit more. I find that the thicker the plating, the longer it will last, but you will always eventually get down to the base metal.


Your plating will last for ages if you do the following:

  1. Go to a first-class plater.
  2. DO NOT do the usual ‘flash plating’, which is extremely thin. Do a heavy plate. A good plater will be able to advise you. Check the Archives for recommendations.
  3. I had a (largish) object heavy-plated and was able to hard polish it on a polishing machine without it wearing through!

The above applies only if your object is NOT a finger ring, as rings get a great deal of wear and will eventually wear through.

Janet in Jerusalem

I am always reminded of how the Aztecs used an alloy of 5% gold and 95% copper which was then depleted to bring the fine gold to the surface. Here is an interested video from the British Museum on the topic:

This is very helpful. I have used this technique on sterling many times. I have never been happy with the color of the yellow gold alloys I use. Will try depletion gilding on the next gold piece. Thank you.

Thank you all so much for the information.