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Thread: Silver plating at home

  1. #1
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    Default Silver plating at home

    I cast some silver shell earring in solid sterling which were very popular but I've a) almost run out of scrap silver and b) have many requests for a cheaper version.

    I have plenty of copper and I was wondering about a silver plate version. Cooksons/Kernow/Walsh all seem to recommend a silver plating solution that you rub on. This seems awfully easy.

    Does it work?

    How robust is the plating?

    As earring dangles they won't get the wear that rings or pendants are subject to so I was wondering about it. I really don't fancy setting up proper electroplating apparatus at the moment.

    Any one any advice?

  2. #2
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    Yes it works.
    No it's not remotely robust. The coating isn't thick enough to withstand any handling.

    Have you seen the description in Walsh's video? https://youtu.be/nwhO6qqyhrY

  3. #3
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    I did wonder - I may leave them plain copper then until I'm ready to tackle proper electroplating.

    I hadn't seen the Walsh's one but I did see a few others.

    Thanks

  4. #4
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    Yes the results are pathetic, and the solution has a short shelf life.

    If you have sufficient volume of work, you might consider a professional plating service;https://www.google.com/search?channe...+for+jewellers.

    If you make just a few, you could consider a battery plating pen:https://www.google.com/search?channe...er+plating+pen
    Last edited by Dennis; 03-02-2022 at 09:01 PM.

  5. #5
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    If you are on Instagram have a look through Goldpolishers posts. He is using plating pens and mentioned a few brands. I did have a look but they seem to be quite expensive. The rub on plating you mentioned used to be a favourite of antiques dealers for tarting up plated items for sale. I seem to remember you could buy it at antique fairs back in the day. I bought a bottle and it’s pretty rubbish

  6. #6
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    There's a DIY of making something similar I was taught - dissolve silver nitrate in water; add salt & dissolve until no more dissolves (silver chloride precipitates out). Filter, add some tartaric acid to the precipitate and rub the resulting paste onto a clean piece of copper (engraving in this case). Silver will gradually plate the copper. Clean & dry the copper carefully, then lacquer.

  7. #7
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    One problem with these rub on solutions/cloths is that they rely on the reactivity of two metals (i.e. the copper on the surface of the item being plated and the silver in the solution you are using) rather than electricity.

    Copper has a higher reactivity than silver so copper will displace silver so the copper displaces the silver in the solution leaving the silver stuck on the surface of the item.

    The problem is that once a thin layer of silver has been deposited over the surface there are no longer two different metals as the surface is also now silver and the deposition of silver stops - so you only ever get thin layers of silver on the surface of the item, thinner than electroplating.

    Electroplating will continue to build up thicker depositions of the silver on the item after the initial thin silver coating so the thickness of the silver is greater and the final coating more robust.

    I have tried electro plating silver once, using a brush using a Gateros Brush Plating kit. The results were less than 100% but I'm 100% certain that was down to the idiot doing the plating (i.e. me) rushing things and messing it up. I had been put off from trying silver plating because traditionally it required cyanide but there are now a lot of non-cyanide kits coming out (such as the kit I went for). If I tried silver plating again I might be more likely to go for the tank method.

  8. #8
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    Agreed Jay.

    The problem for many posters here, is that they are seeking to enhance a one off creation, only to find that the solutions on offer involve disproportionate expenses.

    The simplest answer in many cases, would be to have the piece finished professionally for a fee, because they are unlikely to need this remedy again.
    It is quite common not to hear anything further from them. Dennis.

  9. #9
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    Yes Dennis, the cost per piece made it exorbitant, however I looked at it as a learning exercise so was willing to take the hit, but yes I learned from that experience that a professional service would give better value for money and a better result.

  10. #10
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    Well I'm still looking at my options.

    Having had a root through what is laughingly called a garage here I've found a suitable power supply from a now well defunct model railway set. All I would need to buy is silver plating solution, oh and find some space (and some time) to give it a go.

    Given the price point of silver plate it's not worth having it done professionally for a dozen items. It's not even worth the cost of investing in a bottle of plating solution once my own time is taken into account.

    If I do it it'll be purely for some expensive "fun".

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