Tips and Tricks for Buying Durable Gold-Plated Jewelry

Author: Jewepiter Team

The color retention duration of gold-plated jewelry directly affects its aesthetic appeal and durability, making it a crucial factor for consumers when selecting jewelry. Particularly for gold-plated items, the length of color retention often determines the jewelry’s market competitiveness and customer satisfaction. 

Thus, for jewelers, understanding how to source products with long-lasting color retention is essential for enhancing brand image and market share.

The primary causes of jewelry oxidation include the quality of raw materials, the precision of manufacturing processes, the quality and thickness of plating, as well as storage and packaging methods later on. 

In the following content, we will delve into how to ensure the long-lasting brilliance of your gold-plated jewelry, from the selection of raw materials and process requirements to plating techniques and packaging methods.

Selection of Raw Materials

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Choosing high-quality raw materials is the first step in ensuring the color retention of gold-plated jewelry. High-quality materials not only provide a better base but also resist the oxidation process, thus extending the color retention of the jewelry.

 Choosing High-Quality Raw Materials

Why High-Quality Raw Materials Are Less Likely to Cause Jewelry Oxidation

High-quality raw materials, such as metals with high purity, have fewer impurities, making the jewelry more stable during the oxidation process. 

Metals with higher purity levels, like silver, as compared to low-purity metals containing various alloys, have stronger oxidation resistance and can effectively slow down the rate of surface oxidation.

How to Confirm the Quality of Raw Materials with Suppliers

When confirming the quality of raw materials with suppliers, you can ask to see related quality certifications and purity test reports. You can also inquire about detailed information regarding the metal’s source and processing methods to ensure the controllability of raw material quality. 

For jewelers with continuous needs, it’s also possible to adopt a model where part of the silver raw materials are purchased and stored at the factory, to be used for processing when needed.

Process Requirements

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The level of craftsmanship directly impacts the overall quality and appearance of the jewelry, with polishing playing a crucial role in color retention.

Good Polishing Process

The Impact of Polishing on Color Retention

A good polishing process ensures a smooth, flawless surface on the jewelry, which helps in the subsequent firm adhesion of the plating, reducing the wear and shedding of the plating layer, thereby enhancing color retention. A smooth surface also reduces contact with air and other substances, lowering the possibility of oxidation.

The multi-step polishing process ensures a perfectly smooth surface of the jewelry, and the quality of the polishing process is also one of the main standards for directly measuring the quality of jewelry production. Many low-cost factories, even skip the burnishing polish process, resulting in rougher craftsmanship and more susceptibility to oxidation.

Plating Requirements

Plating is a crucial aspect in the creation of gold-plated jewelry, directly relating to the duration of color retention and overall texture.

Gold Plating

The Difference Between Real Gold Plating and Fake Gold Plating

Real gold plating uses gold of higher purity as the plating material, providing more lasting and stable color retention. In contrast, fake gold plating uses gold-colored alloys or coatings, which do not have the durability and oxidation resistance of real gold plating.

How to Distinguish Between Real Gold Plating and Other Types of Plating

Differentiating real gold plating from other types can be done by examining plating reports provided by suppliers or conducting professional metal tests. Generally, jewelry with real gold plating appears brighter, while fake gold plating tends to be duller. 

The color of real gold plating is usually more natural and long-lasting, whereas fake gold plating may change color or fade over time.

Increasing Plating Thickness

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The Impact of Plating Thickness on Color Retention

Plating thickness is a key factor affecting color retention. A thicker plating layer can more effectively prevent wear and scratches on the jewelry’s surface, thereby extending its color retention. 

At the same time, a thicker plating layer can also better resist environmental factors such as humidity and chemical corrosion. The common plating thickness for jewelry is 0.02-0.05 micrometers, with a color retention period of 3-6 months under normal wear and use. 

For jewelry brands with high color retention requirements, a plating thickness of 0.2-0.3 micrometers is used, maintaining color retention for about a year under normal wear. 

For some jewelry pieces with more expensive gemstones, a 2-micrometer plating thickness is used, maintaining color retention for 1-2 years under normal wear. 

Since the plating is made of real gold, the thicker the plating, the more expensive it becomes. Depending on the style and structure, the cost of different plating thicknesses can vary by 5-10 times, and in many cases, the cost of plating exceeds the cost of producing the jewelry itself. Therefore, it is necessary to choose the appropriate thickness based on the actual situation.

Choosing Plating Colors

Comparing the Color Retention Duration of Different Plating Colors

Under normal circumstances, different plating colors, such as yellow gold, rose gold, and white gold, have varying color retention durations. Generally, white gold plating has a longer color retention period compared to traditional yellow gold plating. 

This is because the metal used for white gold plating is rhodium, an inert precious metal with much higher stability than gold, exhibiting greater hardness and corrosion resistance. This makes the white gold plating layer more resistant to scratches and environmental factors during daily wear. 

Due to the higher price of rhodium compared to gold, the cost of plating is also significantly higher. Normally, a thickness of 0.03 micrometers is sufficient for effective color retention. Under normal circumstances,  rhodium plated jewelry does not require e coating.

Applying E Coat, Especially for Brass Jewelry

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The Role and Importance of E Coating

E coat is a transparent protective layer that can be applied over the plating to enhance the protection and durability of the jewelry. This is particularly important for brass jewelry, as the clear coat can effectively prevent oxidation and discoloration of the brass material, thereby extending the color retention period. 

It is especially important to note that brass jewelry must be coated with a clear coat, as uncoated brass jewelry typically shows signs of oxidation within half a month.

There was once a case where a jewelry seller, in an attempt to cut costs and speed up production, requested a factory to skip certain processes. An inexperienced factory did not apply a clear coat to the products, resulting in all jewelry items oxidizing and turning green upon receipt by the seller. 

This led to all the products being unsaleable, and some that had been sold received numerous negative reviews. It’s particularly important to emphasize that brass jewelry must be coated with a clear coat to avoid such issues.

Choosing Vacuum Plating (PVD Plating)

What is Vacuum Plating (PVD Plating)?

Vacuum plating, also known as PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) plating, is a plating technique performed in a vacuum environment. This process involves evaporating metals or other materials in a vacuum, which then condense onto the surface of the items to be plated. 

Unlike traditional electroplating, which relies on an electrolyte solution, vacuum plating can form a more uniform and compact layer of plating on the jewelry, enhancing the quality and durability of the plating.

Which Jewelry is Suitable for Vacuum Plating and Which is Not?

Since vacuum plating (PVD plating) does not use electrolysis but covers the jewelry uniformly through metal vapor splattering, the plating layer covers everything indiscriminately, including non-conductive gemstones with corresponding metal ions. 

Therefore, vacuum plating is suitable for jewelry made only of metal without gemstone inlays. It is not suitable for jewelry with gemstones or other auxiliary materials combined.

Packaging Requirements

Packaging of jewelry is not only for aesthetics and protection but also directly related to the durability of color retention. Correct packaging methods can effectively prevent damage to the jewelry during transportation and storage, maintaining its long-term luster and color.

Wearing Finger Cots During Jewelry Packaging

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Why Wear Finger Cots During Packaging

During the packaging process of jewelry, wearing finger cots can prevent fingerprints and grease from hands from directly contacting the jewelry surface. These oils and stains can not only affect the appearance of the jewelry but may also accelerate its oxidation process. 

Therefore, using finger cots is an effective way to ensure that the jewelry remains clean and shiny during packaging. It is advisable to check whether jewelry factories use finger cots during quality inspection and packaging to avoid leaving fingerprints and sweat stains that affect the color retention duration of the jewelry.

Sealed Packaging

The Benefits of Sealed Packaging and Common Methods

Sealed packaging effectively isolates air and moisture, reducing the contact of jewelry with external environments, thus lowering the risk of oxidation. Common sealed packaging methods include anti-static bags, OPP packaging, or sealed containers. 

These packaging methods not only protect the jewelry but also extend its color retention period. We usually wrap the outer box of the transported goods in tape to prevent moisture and air from entering the packaging.

Packaging Methods to Reduce Friction Between Products

The Impact of Friction on Jewelry Color Retention

Friction between jewelry pieces during packaging and transportation can damage the plating layer, affecting its color retention effect. Prolonged friction may even cause the plating layer to completely peel off.

When we package jewelry, we appropriately separate the chain from the pendant in necklaces, package earrings individually, etc. These isolation methods can prevent friction and collision between jewelry pieces during transportation.

Conclusion

To ensure the long-lasting color retention of purchased gold-plated jewelry, it is crucial to consider all aspects, from the selection of raw materials, precise craftsmanship, appropriate plating technology, to the correct packaging methods. 

Each link in this chain is indispensable, together forming a complete system to ensure the color retention duration of the jewelry. If you have any questions about jewelry color retention, feel free to leave a comment below.

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