Silver-plating brass is an economical way to get the look of sterling silver at a dramatically reduced cost. Create the jewellery or household item you want in brass and then silver-plate the small item with a rectifier and silver electroplating solution. Silver-plating small brass items can be done in most homes or studios, using reasonable precautions, but large projects require expensive, specialised equipment that is impractical for most crafters or small studio owners.
Dip the brass in acetone to remove dirt and grease. Rinse the brass with distilled water to remove all acetone. Allow the brass to dry.
Attach the positive lead from the rectifier to the metal that supplies the electroplating solution. Secure the lead with an alligator clip.
Attach the negative lead from the rectifier to the brass item you plan to silver-plate. Again, secure the lead with an alligator clip.
Pour the silver electrolyte solution into a glass container large enough to submerge the brass item in the electrolyte solution. The item you plan to plate must be completely submerged and suspended in the solution by the lead. The brass item should not touch the sides or bottom of the glass container.
Set the dials of the rectifier according to the manufacturer's recommendations until the rectifier creates a low voltage of direct current. The electricity from the rectifier will cause metal ions to silver-plate the brass item. Leave the brass object in the electroplating solution until the brass is silver-plated to the thickness you want. You may need to adjust the rectifier settings.
Record the voltage and time needed to silver-electroplate your brass item for future reference.
Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the chemicals. Use caution when working with electrical current.
Tips and warnings
- Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the chemicals.
- Use caution when working with electrical current.
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- "Metalsmithing"; Robert Ebendorf, Michael Jerry, and Thomas Markusen; 1973
- "Jewellery: Fundamentals of Metalsmithing"; Tim McCreight; 1997
- "Jewellery Concepts and Technology"; Oppi Untracht; 1982
- "The Complete Book of Jewelry Making"; Carles Codina; 2006