“Ion plating (IP) is a physical vapor deposition (PVD) process that is sometimes called ion-assisted deposition (IAD) or ion vapor deposition (IVD) and is a version of vacuum deposition. Ion plating uses concurrent or periodic bombardment of the substrate, and deposits film by atomic-sized energetic particles. Bombardment prior to deposition is used to sputter clean the substrate surface. During deposition, the bombardment is used to modify and control the properties of the depositing film.” Source Wikipedia.
So, in English… this basically means that gas metal ions are zapped onto the jewelry to create an extremely tight chemical bond. Different types of metal gases are used to create the desired color of plating.
WHAT METALS CAN BE GOLD PLATED?
Gold plating can be done on most metals, such as nickel, brass, stainless steel, silver, and copper.
|COPPER||Copper is one of the more difficult metals to gold plate. It oxides very quickly, developing a darkened exterior. This oxidation is so strong that it can seep right through gold plating, causing an ugly discoloration. As with brass, it needs to be plated with a preliminary coating of palladium in order to extend the “life” of the plating. However, the copper will show through eventually, as the palladium only slows down the oxidation process.|
|Brass||Brass is a base metal or a metal that is not considered precious. Because of its composition, brass will diffuse through gold plating if there is no preliminary layer between the gold and brass. Jewelers who properly plate brass will polish it, coat it in either nickel or palladium as a barrier, and then gold plate it to prevent any issues.|
|SILVER||Silver is one of the best metals to plate. Any jeweler with a plating tank will take silver; it’s a common precious metal and it doesn’t cause any complications in the plating process. As with all metals, it will be thoroughly polished and cleaned before plating, as any imperfections on the surface will show through the layer of gold.|
|White Gold||White gold is typically plated with rhodium, a strong silvery-white substance. Nevertheless, it can be electroplated with yellow gold without any fuss due to its chemical makeup.|
|Bronze||Bronze is an alloy that consists of mostly copper. Due to this, it also has a tendency to oxide and/or diffuse into plating, causing jewelers to give it a preliminary coating.|
|Zinc, Aluminum, and Titanium||These metals and their various alloys are normally found in cheap costume jewelry. Like the other base metals, they need a layer of nickel before gold electroplating. However, it’s even harder to find someone willing to plate them in comparison to other base metals such as brass, copper, pewter, and bronze.|
HOW IS ION PLATING APPLIED?
- The surface material, or substrate, is cleaned of any impurities through a process known as sputtering.
- A coating material is prepared with a bonding agent, such as titanium nitride.
- The coating and bonding agent are vaporized by an electrical charge.
- The vapor is propelled onto the bonding material.
- An opposite electrical charge is introduced to force the coating and substrate to bond.
The ion plating process may also be known as physical vapor deposition (PVD), a technical term that applies to several methods. Besides that name, the process is called ion-assisted deposition (IAD) or ion vapor deposition (IVD). Occasionally, this process may be referred to as IP plating. However, this is the same as stating ion plating Just know that all of these terms refer to ion plating.
To begin, the material that will be plated, otherwise known as the substrate, must be cleaned. Foreign materials must be removed at this stage to prevent any spoiling of the finish. The cleaning is done in a closed environment where the plating will also be applied. The chamber is introduced to a low vacuum. This aids the process, by making the next steps easier to perform. The cleaning process is typically known as sputtering. This is achieved by subjecting the substrate to ions of another material, such as argon gas. This strips away these impurities instead of bonding to the surface.
Now that the substrate is prepared, the coating process can begin. A bonding agent, such as titanium nitride, is applied to the surface of the material. This will assist the surface in achieving a strong bond when applied. Introducing an electrical arc current then vaporizes the coating and bonding material. This vapor is then directed to the substrate material. An opposing electrical charge is introduced into the substrate material to help attract the ionized gas. This also aids in securing a strong bond between coating and substrate.
Several coats can be applied as necessary to achieve the desired finish. What is also rather amazing is that slight alterations to the process can produce different results. Multiple coatings of the various types can be applied; providing graduated grades of different colors. Alternately, the coating can be tailored to fit the desired finish, such as gloss or matte. As these layers are extremely thin, no loss of detail is incurred on the substrate material.
IS GOLD PLATED REAL GOLD?
Yes, gold plating is real gold but because of how little gold is used, such jewelry doesn’t hold the value of gold.
The purity of the gold used in gold plating ranges just like solid gold. The lowest purity is usually 10K and the highest is 24K gold. When it comes to gold plating, the main difference in these types of gold is the color it produces rather than in the value. The higher the purity of the gold, the more gold-like the color is. However, the value doesn’t change much because of how little gold is used, regardless of the purity levels.
IS GOLD PLATED JEWELRY WORTH ANYTHING?
If you’re looking to resell your gold plated jewelry item and want to know if it is worth anything, the truth is that gold plated jewelry items are not worth much. The reason for this is that the coating, or layer, of gold on the outside of the item is so thin that there are only a few microns of gold in the plating.
STAINLESS STEEL GOLD PLATED JEWELRY
Gold-plated jewelry is jewelry that’s plated/ covered with a gold layer. Gold plating is the addition of a gold layer on jewelry. There are different plating techniques – heavy gold plating (2.5 microns of the gold layer), gold electroplating (.5 microns), and gold flashing/ gold washing (less than .175microns). Though the plating thickness varies, the techniques are all referred to as electroplating. Think of the process as dipping a stainless steel piece of jewelry into a gold solution.
Gold plating is commonly used for costume jewelry or to mimic more expensive pieces. It is almost impossible to tell apart expensive pieces of gold jewelry from inexpensive gold-plated imitations.
WHY ONLY STAINLESS STEEL JEWELRY?
WHY IS STAINLESS STEEL POPULAR?
Of all the various steels available, stainless steel is by far the most useful. Technically an alloy, stainless steel includes a minimum of 10.5% chromium in its makeup. This gives it a high resistance to corrosion, making it a valuable choice across many industries. Therefore 316L stainless steel jewelry is our CHURINGA featured product.
WHY CHOOSE STAINLESS STEEL JEWELRY?
Although IP plating can be used on just about any metal or surface, stainless steel is a favorite choice because it is considered an affordable alternative to gold, platinum, and silver. Yet, there is no compromise on the aesthetic value of the product. Also, stainless is more durable and hypoallergenic compared to other metals.
Combined with IP plating, stainless steel offers versatility both in terms of design and colors and can easily be used to emulate the finish of precious metals such as rose or yellow gold. The best part is that, unlike electric coating, ion-plated jewelry stays looking as good as new for decades.
THE BENEFITS OF CHOOSING ION-PLATED STAINLESS STEEL JEWELRY
PROS OF GOLD ION-PLATED STAINLESS STEEL JEWELRY
Surgical-grade stainless steel is used in the making of these pieces. Since it has been used in the production of surgical instruments for decades, it is a well-researched fact that stainless steel does not produce allergic reactions even in people who are otherwise prone to metal allergies. So, there are scores of advantages to choosing stainless steel, ion-plated jewelry, such as:
- 100% skin-friendly and safe
- The high polished sheen that adds to the allure of the pieces
- Cold, smooth finish that makes it a joy to wear the jewelry
- The plating, color, and sheen last for decades without damage
- Although gold and black are the most common colors induced through IP plating, it is possible to get a range of hues
- Affordable jewelry that creates the same elegant and rich look as pieces made from precious metals
- Silver coating not needed as ion-plated, stainless steel jewelry has a natural silvery look to them.
- Stainless steel is stronger and it has a better luster than other metals
- It is a favorite when it comes to men’s jewelry and contemporary pieces.
- The base metal and the ion plating can endure a significant amount of wear and tear without giving in
- It’s very easy to maintain jewelry made from stainless steel.
CONS OF GOLD ION-PLATED STAINLESS STEEL JEWELRY
- It will tarnish
If you’re wondering, “does gold plated jewelry tarnish?” the answer is yes, it does! Gold plated jewelry items will definitely tarnish over time, though solid gold items will not tarnish at all. Gold plated items have a base metal underneath the gold plate, like copper or silver, which makes the jewelry piece stronger and less likely to bend, though these jewelry metals tarnish. In a gold plated jewelry item, the metal beneath the gold plate will eventually come to the surface and become discolored, so it will need to be polished frequently to keep its shine. The reason that gold plated jewelry tarnishes is that the molecules of the base metals eventually transfer into the thin layer of gold, causing the gold layer to break down.
- The plating can be scratched or chipped
After a few weeks of wearing your gold plated jewelry item, the gold plate is likely to start chipping, wearing, or flaking off. The reason for this is because the gold layer is so thin and not very durable itself. Gold is a very soft metal and can easily be scratched unless alloyed with other metals to make it stronger.
- The amount of gold is minimal and can lead to a lower value
The layer of gold on gold plated items is the least amount of gold when compared to gold filled or solid gold items. Thus, the gold plate is very thin and susceptible to flaking off. Since the gold content is so low in gold plated items, the value is low.
- Can’t wear gold plated items in water
If you’re wondering, “can you wear gold plated jewelry in the shower,” the answer is no, you cannot. Showering with gold plated jewelry or immersing the item under water for long periods of time can cause the gold layer to completely wear off.
HOW TO CARE FOR ION PLATED JEWELRY?
- Most normal care routines apply.
- Store in a clean, dry, soft container, such as a jewelry box.
- Durable and long-lasting, proper care ensures jewelry’s longevity.
Caring for jewelry and watches treated through this method has never been easier! Thanks to the robust nature of this process, most standard care routines that you already follow work just fine.
Metals can be cared for by wiping clean with a dry, soft cloth after wear. If needed, the metallic areas can be cleaned with a solution of mild liquid dishwashing soap and lukewarm water. Surfaces can be scrubbed with a soft brush before rinsing and drying.
As with all jewelry, proper storage greatly aids in its care. It’s always suggested to store jewelry in a closed container after wear. Jewelry boxes are an ideal solution, as they are often lined with a soft cloth or padded to cradle items. Keeping them in a cool, dry place is also a common-sense choice. This helps prevent precious things from being subjected to unnecessary variations and extremes of temperature, humidity, and so forth.
Ion plating is resilient and sustainable. With proper care, these are jewelry pieces and watches that can be treasured for years. Enjoy the potential offered by the ion plating process as you follow these basic guidelines!
ION PLATING IS A TECHNOLOGY WITH STRONG DEVELOPMENT PROSPECT
As ion plating has secured a strong foothold in the jewelry industry, the process is expected to gain even more traction over time. New methods are always being experimented with to innovate further and improve on existing techniques. Continue to look for new styles, finishes, and colors.
Also, as the costs of precious metals continue to rise, it’s expected to see ion plating used with precious jewelry. Only time will tell how this high-tech method will be adopted on the road ahead.
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