Gold Electroplating: A Brief History

When it comes to greed and mythology, one metal that features prominently is gold. The greedy Roman Croesus died for his love of the substance – molten gold was poured down his throat. A golden apple was tossed to Paris, and he was told to give it to the Goddess that would give him what he wanted most – in this case, Helen of Troy. The Spanish conquistadores devastated South America in their search for it. It represented all that many aspired to beauty, immortality, power and wealth. Is there any wonder that alchemists in the past sought to turn so-called base metals into gold a process today accomplished through gold electroplating.

Gold Electroplating and its Origins

In ancient times, although electroplating of any kind was still in the future, gold plating was common. During the Renaissance, gilded items were not only common among the wealthy and the church, they were very popular. Gold items, even gilded ones, were flaunted both within the church and on the battlefield. They were the true indicators of wealth and power.

In 1800, Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) discovered what we now call batteries. William Cruickshank (-1810), a Scottish scientist, took it to a new level when he used it to discover the process known as electroplating in 1802. His efforts were then taken up by Luis Brugnatelli (1761-1818), an Italian scientist who experimented with gold electroplating on silver. His work was left to fallow until over 20 years following his death. At that point, two Englishmen and brothers, Henry and George Elkington developed the technique and applied for commercial uses. They produced silver and gold electroplating. Among the products their company, Elkington & Co-produced were gold flatware for various luxury liners including the RMS Titanic.

 
After the Ellington & Co. products had taken off, the process and its popularity spread to Europe and across to North America. Everyone from British Royalty to the Romanovs to the wealthy families of the globe wanted objects that were the result of gold electroplating. Companies continued to spring up with each keeping their trade secrets exactly that – secret. After a while, however, the fad for such items faded.

Modern Days and Gold Electroplating

The 20th century leads to a further decline in the interest in gold electroplating. It was not until later in the 1940s that interest began to grow again. This was due to the advancements made in technology. Electrical circuits began to use gold. Why? Because it was highly conductive and anti-corrosive. In addition, the processes to perform gold electroplating, or plating of any type had also benefited from technology. They made gold tougher (hard-gold system) or reduced the amount of cyanide required in the process. Eventually, cyanide was to disappear altogether from usage in electroplating as safer, less toxic chemicals replaced it. Overall the changes wrought made it much safer for everyone involved.

In the present, gold has continued to be used extensively in the commercial production of a number of high-quality products. From plated dinnerware to jewelry to electronic components, commercial producers provide their clients with the service they need. For those who are excellent at what they do, they are not simply involved in gold electroplating but are gold plated in their field.

If you are in need of expert and reliable Gold Electroplating, consider the quality work produced by PEP General Metal Finishing. Since 1972, we have supplied our clients with precise, world-class specification services in plating and electropolishing. To discover how we can give you the quality products and attentive services you need, visit us online at http://www.pepgenmetal.com/.

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