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How do you electroplate, or plate, small jewelry pieces of copper or brass with sterling silver? Answered

I make jewelry and would like to cover some small jewelry parts/ findings/ charms with sterling silver. The parts are made of copper and some of brass. I would need to do this in my home. If this is possible, how do I go about it? What supplies and equipment do I need? Thank you, Laurel Martin


I have done copper plating over organic material or other metals, and the process involves a huge thick piece of copper to draw the metal off of to put onto the object you are plating. Because it requires so much metal, silver and gold plating at home usually isn't very economically viable, because precious metals are so much more expensive most people can't afford the several hundred, or thousand, dollars it takes to get the thick chunk of metal just to plate with. What I'd actually recommend is that instead of trying to do it at home, call some jewelry shops and do a bit of googling in your local area, and see if you can find a jeweler or manufacturing place that already does silver-plating, and see if they'll let you put some of your things in their line. You'll probably have to pay a fee of some sort, and it'll most likely be easier to convince a small jeweler to let you in rather than a large manufacturing place (which would probably have to interrupt production schedules for you). I hope this is helpful information for you, and good luck!

What you are doing is electroforming, where a much thicker layer of metal is deposited. In silver (or gold) plating, a much thinner layer is used so a fairly small piece of precious metal works (an 18 gauge gold wire-about $30- will last for years). The trick is the plating solution : )

Try finishing.com for specific questions or Silver Plating at Home.

what solution would i need to use if i am using copper?

Ah, that's true. In that case it would be much more affordable to do at home, provided you get the right chemicals and such.

I did a search on Rio Grande and they have a kit for electroplating that is about $360.00 here.

You could probably take a look at what's included in that kit and then just buy the parts you need separately, and find less expensive alternatives for some of the other parts.

 Well I have copper plated nickels without buying anything an I'm only thirteen! So here is a link to a great tutorial on copper and nickel plating.www.finishing.com/faqs/howworks.html To add on to that awesome tutorial the formula for the solution I use is this: 6oz distilled water (needed), two caps of vinegar (cap is about 1in across and .5in deep) and a small pinch of table salt. I have only copper plated and I used a piece of copper for connecting electric fences (oddly enough we have them in the house). I would recommend using a smaller piece of copper for the cathode and then trying a nickel. A few notes: you can't use pennies as the anode, the cathode may have residue on it after copper plating, use an old toothbrush and toothpaste to clean it off, For the best look repeat the process about three times and let it sit overnight, changing the position of the wires each time so there are no silver streaks and finally, a AA battery is perfect. The solution will eventually turn blue from the dissolved copper, make sure you dispose of it responsibly, dissolved copper IS a biohazard