I would guess that the 'fake rhodium plasting' is chromium plating
Chromium plating was developed around 1920 and in the days before
rhodium plating (pre c 1933) it was used on silver . It was described
as 'looking like polished platinum' However, some complained that it
looked too blue. I have heard that chromium plating is now being used
again on some cheaper silver objects (would love more
There are other options - all sorts of white metals have been used
in the past to plate silver.
By the beginning of the twentieth century platinum was sometimes
plated on silver (and on white gold at least by the early 1920s).
Tin plating is not impossible - tin plating was used on silver
earlier in the nineteenth century, but it was said to stain clothing.
I think it unlikely to be used today. There is even reference in the
1870's to bismuth plating on silver.
Nickel is not impossible - it was frequently used as an internediate
layer on rhodium and other plating and can provide a good bright
coating. However the concern about nickel allergies in recent times
and the ensuing legislation makes it unlikely that it is being used
in the way you suggest on any kind of a commercial scale.
How to tell? Luckily, tin is soft and scratches easily. However
rhodium and chromium are both very hard and very bright. I think that
it could be tricky to distinguish them simply and quickly - I'll
mull this over and see if I can get some ideas.
Plating chromium or whatever onto silver or even white gold is
probably not illegal, but to tell customers that it has been rhodium
plated is certainly dishonest. But what about saying nothing? Still a
grey area (see numerous posts about non-disclosure fo rhodium plating
of white gold on Orchid in the past). I'll check and see if the UK
Hallmarking guys will hallmark chromium plated silver.
By the way a year or so ago there was quiet a lot of 'internet chat'
about silver jewellery in shops being found to be attracted to a
magnet - any new
Regards to all
... and one day I really will make the Orchid dinner
International Jewellry & Precious Metal Network