Finishes & Capabilities
Hundreds of manufacturers across North America have come to rely on our expertise for both rack and barrel plating in a wide variety of finishes. Our well-equipped lab features state-of-the-art x-ray fluorescence thickness testing and atomic absorption spectrophotometry for precise bath control. We offer all of the finishes and capabilities you see listed below, but if you need a finish that you don’t see here, please get in touch—we will make every attempt to provide it for you.
Gold plating is our most popular process and this beautiful precious metal has always stood alone, above all others, as a desirable choice. We offer gold in an assortment of colors including 14K, 18K, 24K, rose gold, green gold, and sunshine gold. We use a special acid gold chemistry that provides your jewelry with a hard and long-wearing surface. You can specify gold thickness from a flash up to a full 3 microns. Please call us for guidance regarding the ideal gold thickness for your job (you can also find information on our FAQ page).
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).
(pronounced ver-MAY) Vermeil has appeal for people who seek luxury, durability, and cachet. Vermeil is so synonymous with prestige and grandeur, that the White House has a Vermeil Room, which takes its name from an extensive and beautifully displayed collection of vermeil flatware and table settings.
Because vermeil adds a thick layer of gold over sterling silver it is an excellent choice for luxury jewelry, as well as being practical and long-wearing.
To achieve this distinctive finish, we gold plate your sterling silver items to the required thickness to meet the Federal Code for vermeil: 2.5 microns (100 millionths) of gold over sterling silver. We use x-ray fluorescence testing to verify the thickness of your gold.
Silver has long been valued for its bright white luster. It was discovered about 4000 BCE, when it was used in jewelry and as a medium of exchange. In ancient times, silver was reputed to have mystical powers and played significant roles in world mythologies. According to ancient Egyptian lore, an Egyptian God’s skin was made of gold, but his or her bones were made of silver.
Our pure silver plate can be applied over sterling silver to brighten, to increase the white color and to add some resistance to tarnish. The whitest of all the precious metals, silver adds luster and sparkle to non-precious metals.
The unique warm red color of copper can add interesting variety and warmth to your designs. Copper is not only a beautiful color–it also carries some mystique. For centuries people of many different cultures have used copper jewelry for medical, religious and spiritual rituals. For many people, copper still holds these special attributes .
As a less expensive white metal, nickel can be used as a final finish or a barrier layer under gold. It is hard, resistant to tarnish, and adds brightness to the surface. While it is not as white as rhodium or silver it is still a nice alternative. It is pervasive in our surroundings in our daily experience, contributing to the durability of everything from the coins in our pockets to the hardware in our homes and automobiles.
Interesting fact: Initially, car bumpers, hubcaps and door handles were nickel plated. It wasn’t until early 1930s that manufacturers added chrome plating to the nickel.
If you require gold-or rhodium-plated pieces that are nickel free, we can plate items without the customary nickel under layer.
While no substitute has all the advantages of nickel in terms of tarnish resistance, hardness and brightness, we have had good results by using a combination of alternative undercoating, anti- tarnish overcoating and a thick gold or rhodium plate .
Applied electrolytically, our special nanopolymer coating forms a protective layer on silver and other metallic surfaces.
While not as robust as lacquer, this unique coating is a completely invisible layer that is skin-friendly and hypoallergenic. It is frequently used to protect silver heishi and it enhances the life of nickel-free gold plating.
We can do two-tone plating on certain kinds of items. Our in-house artisans are applying special masking lacquer by hand to achieve the stunning effects of two different metals on your special items.
While not all designs are candidates for two tone plating we can achieve good results on most jewelry pieces. Please contact us to discuss the particulars of your project.
Rack Plating & Barrel Plating
Rack plated items are individually attached to a plating rack with specially designed clips or with copper wire. Items that are hand polished or are likely to nest, tangle, or bend will be rack plated.
In barrel plating, items are placed in a slowly-rotating, perforated cylinder and proceed through the plating cycle as a group.
Satin & Matte Finishes
At Red Sky we are equipped to provide an antique finish with dark oxidation in the recessed areas of your design with a satin or polished appearance on the surface. We can achieve an antique finish on items that are silver barrel plated, copper barrel plated, or items that are made of brass. Note that pieces to be treated with an antique finish must be suitable for tumble finishing.
To a limited extent, we are able to apply other techniques to different types of items. Contact us to discuss your unique project.
X-Ray Thickness Testing
To insure that we provide you the thickness of electroplated metal that you want and that meets federal code, we use a modern, state-of-the-art x-ray fluorescence spectrometer.
This method of measuring the metal thickness, sometimes referred to as XRF, is non-destructive, which means that we can take readings directly on the finished product without the need for disposable samples. We measure the gold thickness on every rack of every job that we plate so you can be confident that will get the gold thickness you want and need.
Sometimes items arrive at our shop in need of a little extra attention before they can be successfully plated. If we can improve the surface by tumble finishing we will do so. We use a lightly abrasive media to smooth rough surfaces and a stainless steel shot to brighten dull items.
If your jewelry cannot be made electroplate-ready by tumble finishing we may have to return it to you for further finishing. We are not equipped to do hand polishing or buffing.