You might as well ask Leigh about the shipping/plating price. My understanding is that his prices could be VERY competitive with the result that the TOTAL price would be about equal. (Get two or three American prices for the work and see what the price spread is!) His turn-around time will no doubt be mainly a function of the shipping time "back and forth"...but compare that with the extensive "wait times" for some of the more popular American refinishers! Hey...it never hurts to ask, right? Refinishing should not affect the sound provided it is done right. The real danger is that some "low-ball", "mass-production" refinishing shop might have a tendency to develop "heavy hands" when it's time to use the buffing wheel. This will a) soften up the engraving (possibly even making parts of it unreadable), b) thin out the metal (maybe in areas where you don't WANT it thinned) and change the sound. CHANGING the finish will change the sound. If it's silver and you're going to gold, the gold is so thin that you probably won't notice the difference; but if you are switching between lacquer and plated (gold OR silver), you will most probably notice a difference in sound. Check the SchilkeLoyalist for a story about the effect on sound of different finishes...or read the Eclipse website for more of the same.