A popular fixture of home shopping channels, PVD gold is an item covered with a gold coating. PVD stands for “physical vapor deposition”, a reference to the process used to make it. It is found on many different jewelry items, especially watches. The process results in a very thin gold plating, thinner than what other methods of plating produce.
How It’s Made
Physical vapor deposition is a type of vacuum coating. Gold is vaporized in a vacuum under high temperatures (or via ion bombardment), then allowed to condense around the object, molecule by molecule. The end result tends to be about 3 to 5 microns thick, according to Tanury Industries.
Advantages of PVD Gold
PVD gold is often used when real gold is too fragile to make into an item. For instance, it can be made into delicate items such as watchbands, while real gold would be too soft and would warp under daily wear. It is less expensive than real gold and even other kinds of gold plating, due to the low thickness the PVD process can achieve.
PVD Gold Examples
While watches are the quintessential example of PVD gold, you can also find other jewelry made out of PVD gold. Bracelets and rings are the most popular, as the high durability and low cost is a more noticeable advantage for larger pieces of jewelry. High-end houses may have such PVD gold fixtures as faucets, cabinet handles and shower heads.
Other PVD Examples
Due to gold’s low durability, some jewelry companies are moving away from PVD gold. Instead, they use alloys of such other materials as titanium and chromium, to get a similar effect but greater durability.
References and ResourcesSiliconFarEast: Physical Vapor Deposition by Sputtering
Finishing: Gold electro-plating, gold-fill, and PVD treatments on watch cases; Neil Bell
Tanury Industries: PVD Gold FAQ