Ion Plating, also known as IP Plating or PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition process) is a relatively new surface coating technique in jewellery, which was developed in 2010 by NASA scientists creating a viable alternative for chrome plating, which could chip off when banged.
Ion Plating is metal bonding at the molecular level. It involves adding a titanium nitride layer to the base metal, in a vapor form, where the surface is then bombarded by atomic sized energetic particles. Due to this bonding process, less material is needed to coat the item. This can reduce costs drastically and makes the jewellery more affordable, as well as more environmentally friendly.
Experiments on Ion Plating have shown that IP plated surfaces are five to eight times more durable, and more resilient to corrosion and wear compared to other plating processes.
Difference between Ion Plating v's traditional Gold Plating
Both plating methods give the finished product the look and feel of a solid gold product. Neither method adds any extra value to the piece.
Traditional gold plating is the process of laying a infinitesimally thin layer of real gold onto a base metal. This base material can be Sterling Silver, Nickel, Copper, Brass or Stainless Steel. Conventional gold-plating gives the product the exact look of solid gold, but offers extremely low durability, is very easily scratched, and will start to tarnish within 12 to 18 months.
Ion Plating has a far higher resistance to wear than traditional gold plating. - Ion Plating will stay on the jewellery longer than traditional gold plating. Gold PVD coatings can be up to ten times thicker than conventional gold plating, and provides better corrosion resistance against sweat, chlorine etc
Ion Plating on stainless steel jewellery
Although IP plating can be used on just about any metal or surface, Stainless Steel is a favourite choice because it is considered a strong, affordable alternative to precious metals, without compromising on the look of the piece. Also, Stainless Steel is more durable and hypoallergenic compared to other metals.
When Ion Plating is combined with Stainless Steel, the result is a heavy-duty, hypoallergenic piece that wears alot slower than jewellery with traditional plating methods. And caring for jewellery and watches that have been Ion Plated is easy. Thanks to the nature of this process, most standard care routines work just fine.