Electroforming and Electroplating

What is Electroforming?

Electroforming is a chemical process whereby metal products are created over an existing model known as a mandrel. Without delving too much into the complicated science behind the process the chosen metal is broken down using a high electric current and deposited onto the mandrel while submerged in water. The metal forms a layer exactly replicating the shape of the mandrel and can be “grown” as thick as desired. In most cases the mandrel is then either removed in its entirety from the metal surrounding it or melted away. As a result the end product is hollow and lightweight but small holes will be visible, unless in rare cases where the mandrel is kept intact. These necessary holes however do not diminish the quality of metal or significantly change the design of the product. Electroforming can therefore be used to create highly precise and intricate metal products of varying weights and thickness with the only limitation being the original design of the mandrel. We have two silver electroformed bangles (STB79 | STB966 | STB965).

What is Electroplating?

Both electroforming and electroplating fall under the umbrella term “electrodeposition” and is likely where confusion over the two stems from. Electroplating, as the name suggests, plates the surface of an existing item with a layer of metal using a similar chemical process to electroforming. This results in a strong and uniform bond between the metal plating and original which changes the appearance of the item as well as its surface properties. Electroplating is generally used to reduce tarnishing and corrosion or improve strength as with rhodium plating, or to create a more attractive metallic finish as with silver or gold. One of the only downsides to plating is that it will eventually wear away after extensive use and items may need to be plated again. Almost anything can be electroplated and we stock a variety of chains, pendants and earrings that have been plated with rhodium, rose and yellow gold.


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