All about Ion Plated Jewelry

Table of Contents
PVD Coating

To produce jewelry pieces that are long-lasting, extremely beautiful, hypoallergenic, versatile, and cost-friendly, several plating techniques have been applied on jewelry, yet there seems to be something missing.

There is one plating method that has been around for a long time but has started gaining more popularity because of its functionalities. This plating method is called ion plating.

What is Ion Plating on Jewelry?

Ion plating is basically a coating process that involves vaporizing metallic atomic-sized particles like titanium nitride on another material surface (usually stainless steel). It’s an advanced plating process used to enhance the appearance and durability of jewelry.

Ion Plated Stainless Steel Necklace

Ion plating on jewelry is highly rated for its versatility. It can be used to replicate different types of jewelry. As precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum have become more expensive, ion plating is used to create jewelry in various colors but in a cost-effective way.

With just a thin layer of coating, ion-plating jewelry becomes a very hard and long-lasting surface. In fact, it’s estimated to be about at least 5-8 times stronger than other traditional plating techniques like electroplating or gold plating.

Also, IP coating on jewelry requires just a little maintenance. You can simply use water and a non-abrasive cleaning solution to restore its original look. Unlike other plating techniques, you don’t need to worry about the effects of water.

Ion Plated vs PVD Plated Jewelry: What is the Difference

Actually, there is no major difference between ion-plated jewelry and PVD-plated jewelry. The only notable fact is that ion plating is a process under PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition).

Both techniques use the same principle of vaporizing a material in a vacuum and bonding it onto another material (usually stainless steel).

PVD Ion Plating Process

PVD Ion Plating is a multi-step process that creates a thin, adherent coating on stainless steel. Below is a breakdown of how PVD ion plating works:

Loading Stainless Steel-Jewelry Into PVD Chamber
  • Vacuum Deposition

The stainless steel is cleaned thoroughly to remove any dirt or adhesive on it. Then, it is inserted into a sealed vacuum chamber for precise control over the PVD ion plating process. Vacuum deposition eliminates contamination from outside components, allowing for high purity and coating quality.

  • Sputter Deposition

Involves putting the stainless steel and the coating material in the vacuum chamber. The coating material is bombarded with high-energy ions, which causes the atoms from the material to be ejected into the vacuum chamber. Then, these atoms begin to deposit on the stainless steel.

  • Arc Vapor Deposition

This process is done to further ionize the coating material to produce a thick coating quality. An electric arc is applied on the coating material, resulting in a high ionized metal vapor plasma. The metal ions created during this are directed toward the stainless steel, making the coating firmer and stronger.

  • Ion Plating

This is the final ion plating process. It integrates the vaporization and ionization mechanism to ensure the coating material is tightly glued to the stainless steel.

Is Ion Plating better than Gold Plating?

Ion plating is often used for stainless steel jewelry, while gold plating usually refers to electroplating a thin layer of gold on metallic substrates like brass or silver, the traditional way.

Overall, ion-plated stainless steel jewelry is better than gold plating because of its excellent durability and aesthetic appeal.


PVD Ion Plating vs Electroplating

Here is an in-depth comparison of IP plating jewelry vs electroplating (gold plating).

Coating Thickness

Ion plating process offers excellent control over the bonding of metallic particles on the stainless steel, ensuring the consistency of the plated layer. Because of the high-energy deposition process used, the coating adheres tightly, ensuring resistance to wear and tear.

On the other hand, the thickness and consistency of electroplating can be a little bit difficult to control. The shape and size of the substrate, as well as the purity of the gold affects the coating thickness.


PVD ion plating creates a hard surface that can withstand impact and exposure to abrasive elements. Its stronger coating ensures that the metal underneath is protected and lasts long. This makes ion-plated stainless steel jewelry suitable for frequent use and it can last for years without tarnishing.

Electroplating is not very durable. It’s prone to wear and tear under continuous usage and high friction conditions. Over time, the gold plating will wear off. This exposes the base metal and will do direct damage to it.


Using stainless steel for jewelry is a great choice for people with sensitive skin. Ion plating on your 316L stainless steel jewelry (surgical steel) is 100% hypoallergenic and less likely to cause allergies. Ion-plated coatings are designed to be nickel-free, which is crucial because nickel is a common allergen.

Electroplated jewelry is more prone to cause allergies. In electroplating, gold/silver is often done with alloys to improve durability. These alloys can contain metals like nickel, which is a major allergic element. Also, when the plating wears off, the base metal can contact with the skin, causing reactions.


IP Plating jewelry is generally more expensive, especially for smaller production runs. The process requires a higher level of skilled labor and the equipment used is more specialized.

Electroplating, on the other hand, is cheaper, especially for mass production. The process is simple and straightforward, and the equipment used is less expensive.



Ion plating process can be used to create a wide variety of colors and finishes, such as gold, rose, black, or blue. You can have different levels of shine, from matte to high polish. However, some color combinations are difficult to create because of the complexities in the production process.

Electroplating can be used to mimic all types of colors and finishes. The production process is flexible, allowing you to achieve any jewelry appearance and meet your needs.

How Long Does Ion-Plated Jewelry Last?

Ion plated jewelry, when made by a professional stainless steel jewelry manufacturer, lasts for years. With little maintenance, your jewelry will keep shining like it’s new even after many years of use.


Choosing the right type of jewelry plating is more important than most people think. This sole decision will determine how long your jewelry will last and the maintenance requirements to retain its beauty. Ion-plated stainless steel jewelry is affordable, durable, versatile, hypoallergenic, and embodies all the qualities you desire in jewelry.

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