Plating is always an issue.
When I first started having our raw brass plated maybe 6-7 years ago, I knew I wanted to use a popular company who had been working in the US trade for a long time and had a huge reputation for being reliable. I went with someone a sales rep and several of my toolers mutually recommended.
So, the plater I use is one of the foremost in the costume jewelry trade here in the U.S, and is used by many, many purveyors of jewelry components to plate their goods.
In other words----if you buy plated stampings from most of the dealers of such out there in the US, they are probably being plated by this company, and I'm just one of them.
I know that there are stringent policies on lead use, and now, nickle use in plating and also base metal in the US. Because I use the company I use, and because I know that a huge portion of the plated components used in costume jewelry business is plated by them, I just never worried about exploring nickle content as I knew what they were doing was fine and dandy for "US consumption."
But, it seems that now regulations are tightening up in other parts of the world, and some of my customers, especially from the United Kingdom, have needed to know more specifics. Since we do alot of international shipping, it now became important to have more information to share.
Finally I caught up with my plater and took an interesting little telephone meeting with him, and decided it would be a good idea to address the info here in the blog and make it available. Sometime later this week I'll publish it on my Ebay ABOUT ME page, as well. (If you didn't know, we also have a HUGE Ebay store at http://www.stores.ebay.com/bsueboutiquesjewelrysupplies---you should check it out, I list maybe 100-150 new items a week there, it's a real revolving door of goods, especially VINTAGE components.)
Our gunmetal, pewter ox and silver ox finishes all do contain nickel. The gunmetal contains the most, maybe 2% of the plating solution. The other two contain a miniscule amount, less than 1%. I have all the gunmetal and silver ox plating lacquered, too, because well....I just think it looks better. So the lacquering seals over the nickel in the solution, which again, is very, very little.
Most countries allow 5-7% nickel content in jewelry. This is far under that, because when I say 5-7% nickel content, we're talking here about the WHOLE PIECE. There is no nickel besides the tiny bit in the plating, because all of my stampings are made of BRASS. ALSO: NONE Of my jewelry components contain ANY lead. I only carry a very few castings at this time, and they are US-made, and no lead is involved.
Also, the components are completely sterlized in a boiling hot water bath after they are plated, to remove any lingering impurities, and they are also dipped in a mild ammonia bath to further strip them of any dirt or built up plating.
Our plater tells us that his plating is 'food service quality.' This means he can, and does plate things like gravy boats, honey servers and spoons, things that touch food.
There is no nickel content in the brass ox, copper ox, goldplate or gold ox plating.
If you desire to purchase goods that are plated COMPLETELY without the finest trace of nickel, and are a volume buyer (meaning you're purchasing a half gross to a gross of a finding at a time), I can have your stuff custom-plated via a special process that contains NO NICKEL and is completely hypoallergenic. He tells me the finish is similar, just a tad bit duller. You need to know, however, that is is expensive and will increase the price of your items all the way across the board by 30%.
Just so you know...it is available but, ugh, a little spendy.
For more info on the plating colors we have available, scroll down in this blog to the post about WHAT DO YOU MEAN, BRASS OX? Also, you can 'tune in' to our website and check under the category heading VINTAGE STYLE STAMPINGS. Click on the subcategories and have a look at the plating for each subcategory. The colors are fairly true. If you have any questions at all, you can always write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.