Working with gold can be expensive. Metal clay artist and LJS tutor Anna Campbell looks at gold plating your work as an affordable alternative.
Here at the jewellery school we do get requests for classes in making jewellery with gold. We don’t currently have any gold classes scheduled in the timetable but we can organise a private tuition for you to ensure you learn the exact technique you want to use. We also give our wedding ring couples the option to work in gold (once they’ve practiced with other metals).
However, you don’t just have to work directly in gold to add gold to your pieces. Whether you are a silversmith or metal clay artist you can get pieces you’ve made gold plated. I wanted to develop one of my jewellery ranges, the totem collection, and felt this was a way of adding value and difference to the collection so I decided to get a piece from my totem range rose gold plated.
Silver and rose gold bee pendants from Campbell Hall designs
I took the piece to Just Castings, St Cross Street, Hatton Garden. There I explained what I wanted and showed them the piece. It is a fine silver 999 pendant made from silver clay.
I decided to just get one piece plated initially so that I could see if I was happy with the finish. I also wanted to wear it and check that the plating stayed on.
The staff were helpful. They showed me examples of pieces that had been plated. They asked if I wanted the silver piece polished first (it is best to take your piece to them polished and ready). I decided not to have mine polished and was told that the piece was in a good state for plating.
I was then asked how thick I wanted the plating to be. The plating is measured in microns. I decided to try 1 micron thick (although you can get a thicker plating). I would definitely choose a thicker plating for a ring as they tend to get knocked more.
The cost of plating varies with cost of gold on the day and the number of pieces you bring in, more items cost less because there is a set up cost for each plating.
I am pleased with the final product. It’s a way of adding value and choice to a range that I am already making. I am currently wear testing the piece to ensure I am confident to sell it.
Anna Campbell is a tutor at the London Jewellery School and runs her own jewellery business Campbell Hall Designs. She sells online from her website and at the Things British shop in Greenwich, London.