Fashionable china was frequently edged with gold or silver plating. This trimwork can become discoloured after improper care or use. These imperfections may be easily restored, but after decades of use, especially if the china has been placed in a dishwasher, gold plating develops cracks, chips and wear marks. The gold plating on the exterior edge of dinner plates and tea cup handles usually show the most damage. If the china pattern is desirable, either restore or remove the gold plating and guests will never be the wiser to the simple transformation.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Dishes with gold trim
- Experimental test dish with gold trim
- Hot water
- White dry eraser
- Commercial dishwashing (both liquid and dry)
- Fabric bleach
- Rough plastic pot scrubber ("Tuffy"-type)
- Rough dish cloth
- Dishwasher (with china cycle)
- Dremel-type tool with felt and polishing wheels
- Dry pottery ash
Evaluate the china for the amount of gold plating. Gold plating or trim has usually been applied by hand, so begin with the least abrasive method and evaluate the per cent of gold removed after each step. Heavy plating on newer china may be permanent. Use a discarded, broken or cracked piece of the china as a test piece before attempting any of the steps on other items in the set.
Wash the china in a sink filled with extremely warm water, not hot, and a mild detergent (such as Ivory Liquid). Be sure to line the bottom of the sink with a dishcloth or plastic pad so that the china will not be chipped. Let the dish soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Immediately dry the dish with the dishcloth, and then use the hard, white eraser on the gold plate edge. Rub in an even, firm manner. If the gold is thin, it should be erased after several sessions in the water bath and with the eraser.
If the gold plating is still present, repeat Step 2, but use a harsher commercial dishwashing liquid. Increase the soaking time by 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat this process several times. Add a tablespoon of bleach to the last bath. Use the rough dishcloth or plastic pot scrubbing ball (Tuffy Pot Scrubber) on the gold trim. Avoid touching other parts of the dinnerware with these items, because they will scratch the surface of the dishes making them more susceptible to stains and discolouration.
Use the beeswax to dislodge any remaining gold plating. This may be done by applying the wax to the hard, white plastic eraser. Work in small sections, cleaning the eraser when it becomes covered with the excess gold plate.
If a small amount of plate or gold trim remains, use the electrical tool to remove the remainder of the gold. This should be the last resort and should be used only if the worker has experience using an electric polishing tool. Attach the smallest felt polishing wheel to the electric tool and use the beeswax as a paste remover. Be sure to clean the felt wheel when the paste has built up or has become a solid mass.
Polish the china with glass polish, once the gold plating has been removed. Follow the directions on the product for the best shine.
Tips and warnings
- Test any of the processes above or on a chipped or broken piece of china before removing gold from items in the dinnerware set.
- Before attempting any removal, take dinnerware to a professional appraiser for evaluation. Any alteration of rare china will make the set worthless.
- Attempt to clean the set with warm, soapy water before starting the gold removal process. Discoloured edges many times can be restored with a good cleaning and polishing cloth, especially if the gold edging is heavy.
- Do not attempt to remove gold plating from large portions of the china or from the significant sections of the design. This removal will be difficult, perhaps impossible, and it will also be noticeable when using the china for dining.
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