All That Glitters is Not Gold—But It May Be Gold PVD Coating

One of the most frequent questions we get asked about our decorative PVD offerings is if it is possible to match the appearance of real gold (both white gold and rose gold) with our durable coatings. If you are reading this blog because you have that same question and are hoping the bright minds at VaporTech® have found ways to alter the laws of physics, I’m afraid my answer may disappoint you. The answer is NO! But all is not lost—we have other options for you!

Before discussing the characteristics and benefits of gold/rose gold PVD finish, let’s talk about natural gold color and properties.

Real gold is precious for a reason—there is no substitute for the brightness, luster, and stability the real thing can deliver. For a description of the unique nature of gold, I recommend the following reference from Causes of Color

The allure of gold comes at a price, and we don’t just mean the cost. Gold is a very soft and pliable metal – one of the key attributes for making elaborate jewelry. However, when you coat with gold alone, it does not last long unless you apply a very thick coating—costing more $$$. That is where our durable-decorative gold PVD coatings shine!

Since it isn’t made of gold, what is a gold-colored PVD coating?

You may be wondering what gold-colored PVD means. Although we don’t provide an exact match for the luster of real gold, our VaporTech® coating systems produce a wide variety of gold-like finishes to meet your needs for a wear-resistant version of gold.

With the wide variety of gold alloys regularly used—18k, 14k, white gold, rose gold, etc.—we can provide a more durable replica process for each one.

When one thinks of gold, the characteristic yellow color stands out, but what also distinguishes gold is the amount of red. That balance of the yellow from a gold-colored PVD coating and red hues from a rose gold-colored PVD finish is what we look at when mimicking gold alloys, as they don’t quite mimic the brightness. When we get the red/yellow balance right, we’ve got a great match—just don’t set it next to the real thing!

Want more information about gold PVD coatings? Contact us today!

How long does gold PVD coating last?

Let’s talk about gold/rose gold PVD coating.

Many applications need something that looks like gold but behaves like armor. We produce our gold PVD color coatings using zirconium or titanium (or a mix of the two) reacted with a blend of nitrogen and sometimes a hydrocarbon gas in precise amounts. This process produces hard nitride or carbonitride coatings that achieve the desired color of gold and rose gold-colored PVD coatings. We have established an array of pre-developed gold-colored PVD process recipes, but our engineers can also color-match to a specific shade of gold. Typical gold and rose gold-colored PVD coating is used in faucets, phone cases, watches, and firearms.

If you must have pure gold color on your parts, but you must also have long-life coating durability of gold-colored PVD coatings, we have another option. A technique long used in the watch and jewelry industry to combat this challenge is a two-step PVD process. A gold-colored hard coating is applied as a base layer to provide long-lasting durability, with a thin flash of real gold PVD used on top for that bright luster. As the top layer gradually wears away, the durable PVD gold-colored base will remain for the life of your product. Our newest VT i-Series™ system, the VT-1500i™ PVD system, comes equipped with our standard center arc source for the hard coat base and side ports for a secondary sputter source for providing that extra layer of PVD durability.

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