10 Common Mistakes Jewelers Make When Plating
  1. Not using a beaker. Chemical beakers are designed to hold harsh chemicals and will not react with or contaminate plating solutions or the rinse water, where other containers can.
  2. Using a karat gold anode. Colored gold plating solutions (14K, 18K, Pink, etc.) require the use of an insoluble stainless steel anode. Using any other anode will contaminate the solution.
  3. Setting the rectifier to the incorrect voltage. Too low can give incomplete plating coverage, and too high can result in spots or a dark finish. Use the voltage recommended by the plating solution manufacturer.
  4. Not polishing to a mirror finish. Plating solutions only plate, they do not polish. Plating will not hide flaws, only highlight them. Polish to a mirror finish before plating.
  5. Thinking a small beaker half full of solution will save money. Small baths are less efficient, so cutting corners here will cost you money.
  6. Thinking a quart is a quart. All solutions are not created equal. Check the bottle for metal content to know how much metal it contains.
  7. Using tap water when rinsing. The impurities in tap water can cause spotting and shorten the life of the plating solution. Use distilled water only.
  8. Not changing the rinse water often enough. Monitor the color or pH of the rinse water and replace when necessary.
  9. Steam cleaning prior to plating. Steam cleaning a piece before plating will contaminate the piece with the impurities from the steamer. So avoid steam cleaning.
  10. Trying to electrostrip rhodium. Rhodium cannot be chemically stripped. Mechanically stripping, like buffing, is the only method of removing rhodium.

We would like to thank Krohn Industries for supplying this information.