Sterling Silver Information

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Silver Plated Jewelry

The plating with silver of a jewelry piece made of an inexpensive base metal is usually accomplished through a process called electroplating.  Electroplating can be used to apply a thin silver coat to a newly created piece of jewelry, to repair silver plated jewelry with surface damage, or to restore an item that has become worn with age (don't you wish we could get replated as we grow older!). 

There are home electroplating systems that can be had for a fairly reasonable price.  However, since practice makes perfect, a professional silversmith should probably be consulted when the item in question is valuable in terms of money or sentiment.

The Process

The first step in electroplating is to clean the jewelry piece of all dirt and grease, as silver will not adhere to dirt of grease. Cleaning should be done with a professional cleaning solution, made specifically for this purpose. 

The item is then dipped into a solution that contains silver particles in positive ion form.  The item is then connected to a negatively charged cathode and electricity is applied.  A positive electrical terminal is then inserted into the solution.  The silver ions are attracted to the metal item. Over time they are slowly and evenly deposited onto the item's surface. 

The thickness of the silver coating (plating) is determined by three factors: (a) the strength of the electrical current; (b) the concentration of silver in the dipping solution; and (c) the length of time the jewelry piece has been submerged into the solution. 

Plating is used primarily because it is more economical to produce items such as silver jewelry and tableware with an inexpensive base metal and then coat them with a thin layer of silver, usually around 0.05 millimeters or less.  While this process can lead to beautiful, inexpensive jewelry, over time the plating can wear off or become scratched.  The extent to which this will become a problem depends on the thickness of the plating and the color of the underlying material.  Alpaca silver, which contains no silver, is often used as the base metal in jewelry because of its almost-silver appearance.  This means that a scratch in the plating may be less noticeable.



Index Of Articles

"Silver 101"
"Sources of Silver"

"Sterling Silver Defined'"
"Silver Standards"

"Silver Marks and Hallmarks"

"Silver Testing Kits"

"The Silversmith"
"Silver Coins"

Plating & Treatments

"Silver Plated Jewelry"
"Gold Vermeil Jewelry"
"Rhodium Plated Sterling"
"Antiqued Silver"

Fake Silver Jewelry

"Alpaca Silver Jewelry"
"German Silver Jewelry"

Silver Jewelry Styles

"Bali Silver"
"Indian Silver"
"Thai Hill Tribe Silver"
"Tibetan Silver"
"Turkish Silver"

Silver Allergies

"Silver/Nickel Sensitivities"
"Hypoallergenic Jewelry"

Recent Developments

"Argentium® Sterling Silver"

"Silver PMC®"

"The Origins of Tarnish"

"Tarnish Removal"

"Firescale (Firestain)"

"Proper Silver Storage"

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