Humanities › History & Culture The History of Electroplating Share Flipboard Email Print Andreas Rentz/Getty Images History & Culture Inventions Invention Timelines Famous Inventions Famous Inventors Patents & Trademarks Computers & The Internet American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Mary Bellis Inventions Expert Mary Bellis covered inventions and inventors for ThoughtCo for 18 years. She is known for her independent films and documentaries, including one about Alexander Graham Bell. our editorial process Mary Bellis Updated November 25, 2019 Italian chemist, Luigi Brugnatelli invented electroplating in 1805. Brugnatelli performed electrodeposition of gold using the Voltaic Pile, discovered by his college Allessandro Volta in 1800. Luigi Brugnatelli's work was rebuffed by the dictator Napoleon Bonaparte, which caused Brugnatelli to suppress any further publication of his work. However, Luigi Brugnatelli did write about electroplating in the Belgian Journal of Physics and Chemistry, "I have lately gilt in a complete manner two large silver medals, by bringing them into communication by means of a steel wire, with a negative pole of a voltaic pile, and keeping them one after the other immersed in ammoniuret of gold newly made and well saturated". John Wright Forty years later, John Wright of Birmingham, England discovered that potassium cyanide was a suitable electrolyte for gold and silver electroplating. According to the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter, "It was a Birmingham doctor, John Wright, who first showed that items could be electroplated by immersing them in a tank of silver held in solution, through which an electric current was passed." The Elkingtons Other inventors were also carrying on similar work. Several patents for electroplating processes were issued in 1840. However, cousins Henry and George Richard Elkington patented the electroplating process first. It should be noted that the Elkington's bought the patent rights to John Wright's process. The Elkington's held a monopoly on electroplating for many years due to their patent for an inexpensive method of electroplating. In 1857, the next new wonder in economical jewelry arrived called electroplating - when the process was first applied to costume jewelry.