FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
Red Sky Plating is here to provide you with the best plating service in the industry. The following is a short guide to our practices and policies and will answer many of your jewelry plating questions.
Please contact us if we can further clarify anything you read here. We look forward to hearing from you.
What is electroplating?
Electroplating is the process to cover a conductive object with a layer of metal. Using an electric current, positively charged metal particles (ions) move through a liquid solution (electrolyte) and deposit onto the negatively charged object.
What is rack plating?
There are two common ways to handle parts for plating, the first is rack plating. Rack plated objects are wired or hung individually on a plating rack. Items that are hand finished, or are likely to nest or tangle usually need to be rack plated.
What is barrel plating?
Barrel plating is the second common way to plate parts. Barrel-plated items are placed in a slowly-rotating, perforated cylinder and processed together as a group.
What can be electroplated?
We can plate onto almost any type of metal including brass, bronze, copper, steel, tin, pewter, silver, nickel, gold-filled material, and gold. We are not equipped to plate onto aluminum, titanium, tungsten, or zinc.
Does Red Sky do electroforming?
No. We are not equipped to do electroforming.
Does Red Sky do two-tone plating?
We can do two-tone plating on some types of items. Please call us for more information.
Does Red Sky re-plate worn out plated items?
No. We are not equipped to repair and re-plate. We aim to do the best plating job possible on newly manufactured items.
Should objects be assembled before plating?
Usually. In most cases, best results can be achieved when items are completed as if they were ready to be sold.
Should jewelry be oxidized or antiqued before plating?
No. Oxidation on the surface will cause the plating to be dull, powdery, and lack adhesion. We can remove oxidation from some types of parts and we will discuss your particular parts with you.
Should pin stems and catches be attached before plating?
Yes. Plating will only slightly restrict the movement of pin stems, catches, and clasps.
Should stones be set before plating?
Most stones should be set before plating. However, PERIDOT, CORAL, SHELL, PEARL, HEMATITE, LAPIS LAZULI, MALACHITE, TURQUOISE, and some other softer stones do not always withstand the chemicals involved in our processing. The foil on foil-back type stones will come off during plating. Thermal shock can result in cracks in some types of stones, especially larger ones. We will run a test sample of a suspect type of stone at your request. Make sure all stones are securely set to avoid loss during processing. Red Sky will not be responsible for lost and/or damaged stones.
Should component parts be glued together before plating?
Glue does not conduct electricity and so the glued item will not plate properly. We recommend plating the component parts before assembly with glue.
Can enameled work be plated?
We have had mixed results with enameled items. Depending on the type of enamel and how it is fired, it can become dull or crack in the plating process. We will run a couple of test pieces for you.
What is thermal shock?
Our process baths are only about 150°F, but that is occasionally enough to crack come stones or enamel work. We cannot guarantee against cracking.
Can hollow items be plated?
Hollow parts will plate correctly if there are two holes that are large enough to allow free drainage of the solutions. Beads are not usually a problem but some will not drain freely and cannot be plated successfully. Liquid must be free to drain away in a few seconds.
Will plating "fill in" scratches, pits, or porosity?
No. Plating does not flow on the way paint does and instead it will exaggerate any imperfections in the surface of the base metal.
Is there a risk of lost parts? Why?
Sometimes parts fall off the plating rack when they cannot be secured to the rack properly. Parts require a through hole, post, closed finding, or other design element that will allow for secure racking. It is also possible for very small, lightweight parts to climb up and out of a plating barrel. We will make every effort to find lost parts but it is not always possible to locate those that have fallen into large process tanks. Please see the Red Sky Corporation Statement of Policy at the bottom of this page.
Are fingerprints on the surface of items a problem?
Yes. Avoid touching items after cleaning. Hand oil is acidic and can actually etch into the metal so that an almost invisible fingerprint becomes very noticeable after plating. This problem can be avoided by using cotton gloves to handle clean parts.
Can Red Sky maintain an existing surface finish?
We use special procedures to handle items with customer-applied textures such as brush finishes or media-blasted surfaces.
Does Red Sky do any pre-plate finishing?
Yes. We offer mechanical finishing such as tumbling, bead-blasting, and sand-blasting. We are not equipped to hand polish items.
Will surface texture influence color?
Yes. The way we perceive color is influenced by brightness. A slight variation in the way items are finished can make a noticeable difference in the apparent color. For example, a slightly dull surface will appear pale compared to a shiny surface that is the same actual color.
Will my plating be harmed by further processing that takes place after plating?
Processes such as soldering, bending, tumbling, oxidizing, cutting, crimping, and engraving can ruin a good plated finish and we cannot guarantee plating that is subjected to further processing. Please inform us of any further processing that will take place so that we can discuss procedures for the best possible results.Please see the Red Sky Corporation Statement of Policy at the bottom of this page.
Why is a nickel under-plate used when gold plating?
Nickel is used as a barrier to prevent the base metal from migrating into the gold layer and causing it to discolor and tarnish. It also adds brightness and the nickel’s hardness extends the wear of the gold layer.
Does Red Sky provide nickel-free plating?
Yes, we can gold plate items without the use of nickel. When filling out your shipping form, specify NO NICKEL in the “special instructions” field.
Vermeil items are not subject to the silver substrate migrating through the gold coating because of the substantial thickness of the gold.
How does Red Sky measure plating thickness?
We use state-of-the-art x-ray florescence. This method is the industry standard for measuring plating thickness and it is very accurate.
How does the color of gold I choose influence my price?
Our gold plating is 98+% pure gold with a small amount of metal alloy to create various colors: 14K, 18K, 24K, rose gold or green gold. We charge the same for all these colors because the gold content is very nearly the same in each.
What factors will influence the price of my order?
The most important factors we use to determine price are (1) the surface area that is plated with precious metal and (2) the coating thickness. Any special handling will also impact the price.
What is Red Sky's minimum order?
We have a $100.00 minimum per order. If you are ordering more than one finish, for example some items plated with 14K gold and some with rhodium, there is a $50.00 minimum for each finish within the order. A 5% hazardous waste management fee is added to each order.
How is payment handled?
We accept Visa and Mastercard. Automatic payment can also be established for ongoing orders by using your Visa or Mastercard. Open accounts will be considered after we receive a credit application. Credit applications take a few weeks to process.
How long will my order take?
We ship out most orders within five working days after receiving them. However, during busy seasons, we will need more time to process your order. Please contact us for a current turnaround estimate. Also, new accounts that require process development and/or very large orders may take more time to process.
How does Red Sky ship?
We ship UPS ground to addresses in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. We ship UPS 2nd Day Air to all other locations unless otherwise instructed. In addition to the charge for shipping to your particular location, we charge a $5.00 shipping and handling fee on all packages shipped.
What information is needed on the purchase order?
- Total number of pieces OR weight of items
- The metal that the items are made of
- What metal you want plated onto your items
- As it applies, color of gold and thickness of gold
- Special or new processing instructions
- Major manufacturing changes such as alloy changes, finishing changes, etc.
- Insurance value of items (before plating) for return shipment
- Credit card information, including name and address on card, account number, expiration date, 3-digit code from back of card, and signature
You can print our handy shipping form, found on the SHIPPING FORM page of this website.
How thick is your gold plating?
Red Sky can plate gold anywhere from a flash (about 2 millionths of an inch) to 150 millionths of an inch. We measure gold thickness by x-ray fluorescence and we will provide a written certification of gold thickness upon request.
Generally, the thicker the gold plating the better the wearability. We recommend that you choose the thickest gold plating you can afford. Keep in mind your market niche and the way your jewelry is being advertised when choosing your gold thickness.
As a guideline, we recommend these minimum thicknesses for the following items:
- earrings and pins–20 millionths (0.5 micron)
- pendants and necklaces–40 millionths (1 micron)
- rings and bracelets–120 millionths (3 microns)
The following information is from the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 16, Commercial Practices Part 23.
GOLD FLASH OR GOLD WASH: Electroplating of gold thickness of less than 7 millionths of an inch.
GOLD ELECTROPLATE: Electroplating of gold a minimum thickness of 7 millionths of an inch. Can also be marked G.E.P.
GOLD PLATE: A gold coating, deposited by any means, a minimum thickness of 20 millionths of an inch. Can also be marked G.P.
HEAVY GOLD ELECTROPLATE: Electroplating of gold a minimum thickness of 100 millionths of and inch (2.5 microns).
VERMEIL (pronounced VER-MAY): Sterling silver electroplated with gold a minimum thickness of 100 millionths of an inch (2.5 microns).
Learn all about Gold and our other finishing options on our FINISHES AND CAPABILITIES PAGE.
RED SKY CORPORATION STATEMENT OF POLICY
It is recognized that even after employing all the best chemistry available and in the capable hands of people with years of training, hazards still exist in the electroplating and metal finishing field. In order to avoid misunderstandings we set forth the conditions below, under which your material will be accepted by us for processing.
- Whenever we are given material with detailed instructions as to treatment, our responsibility shall end with the carrying out of those instructions. Type of material along with tolerances and specifications for processing shall be declared in writing prior to our processing.
- Our liability for any cause is limited to the cost of material and direct labor of the product directly damaged by our processing or three times our processing charges on such material, whichever is lesser. Charges for our services are based on this policy limiting our liability.
- Liability greater than outlined in paragraph two, above, will be assumed by us only when so agreed in writing with us. In such an event, a higher charge may be rendered for our services.
- Parts, materials, etc. as processed by us shall be presumed to be accepted as satisfactory by you if we are not notified of damages, shortages, or other discrepancies within ten business days of your receipt of the same.
- Rejected parts must be returned to us for re-work. Further processing or assembly of rejected parts, material, etc., by you or any other party shall constitute a waiver of any liability on our part.
- Where operations or processes performed by us are, by their nature, in the salvaging of parts or materials, the work is accepted on a “best effort” basis and no liability shall be attached to us unless previously agreed to in writing prior to processing the job.
- In the event that results of metal finishing operations are unsatisfactory due to metal imperfections, usages for which the plating or other finishing operation was not reasonably designed, or similar variables over which we have no control, the customer will be expected to pay the amount for the finishing operation performed.
The conditions set forth above, we believe, are realistic and reasonable. Acceptance of material for processing subject to these conditions will permit us to continue to provide quality metal finishing at a reasonable price.