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Plating Silver with Paladium, Rhodium


#1

Hans

I looked at your blog to read about metal halide case lighting, and
read on about silver and plating. It always seems a shame to me to
hide one metal under another (in this case, for those who didn’t see
the blog, silver under palladium under rhodium
http://tinyurl.com/2dxeez). Maybe you should experiment with
platinum sterling. I haven’t used it (I patina most of my silver) but
folks here say it is wonderful, a pleasure to work with and quite
resistant to tarnish if I remember right. The extra expense would be
offset, I should think, by the savings in time and materials if you
don’t have to plate.

Plus, if you use it, I know you’ll report back to all of us and
we’ll all benefit from your effort!

Noel


#2
I looked at your blog to read about metal halide case lighting,
and read on about silver and plating. It always seems a shame to me
to hide one metal under another (in this case, for those who didn't
see the blog, silver under palladium under rhodium 

I did exactly the same thing and your take is exactly my own feeling
on the subject. Silver has a wonderful colour which is much warmer
than the platinum group metals and so I would hate to plate it. Also
for me, the word “plated” conjours up an inherent “cheapness” with
regard to quality so I don’t really want to get into plating myself.
When I can afford to work in gold, I will use palladium white which
I am told does not need to be plated as it is already a lovely white
colour. It won’t be for a while yet - I thought about it yesterday
when putting this month’s silver order together, and one small piece
of gold would have wiped out my entire order, meaning that I
couldn’t do any creating at all, other than a small gold piece!

Having said all of that though, I don’t live near the sea and so
don’t have the problem of silver tarnishing so quickly. If Hans’s
silver jewellery is looking old due to having to polish it so often
then I guess plating is the way forward as I’m sure any customers
living in the same area would also not be happy at their beautiful
pieces tarnishing all the time.

Helen
UK


#3

Hi Noel,

I totally agree with you.I have never liked plating, ever. For me,
what you see is what you get… Simple and plain. But the problem with
silver is it does not keep its freshly polished colour, no matter
what. And I make make many multi metal pieces. And when the metals
that are lessprone to tarnishing, like titanium, niobium… keep
their colour, but silver does not, then that one piece of metal
causes problems, and requires periodic cleaning. That’s more than as
hassle when the polishing wheel touches your titanium background and
leaves a nice white scar, and that’s the piece that there actually
was nothing wrong with that now has to be taken apart for redoing. (
it has happened to me several times) I dislike both the colours of
paladium and rhodium. Far better the silver colour. My perfect
plating solution would be the same colour as freshly polished
silver.

I would of course say on my valuation certificate that some sections
are plated, and that has been done to keep the integrity of the
piece, rather than trying to hide something.

I have played around with non-tarnishing silver alloys for a long
time, and the platinum alloy seems very interesting.

To explain.

I made my self a watch band and watch casing out of silver. The
casing is made out of silver alloyed with de-ox alloy. The next set
links of the bracelet are made out of silver that is alloyed with
7.25% platinum. The next set of links are made out of 10% plat
/silver alloy. So far the casing has got black but the links are
still silver looking. I will wear it for a year and the I will post
photographs of the bracelet. But my gut feeling says it will go
black eventually.

Cheers, Hans.
http://www.meevis.com


#4
the polishing wheel touches your titanium background and leaves a
nice white scar 

I wish I could say I didn’t know how this is, but… I work with
silver and titanium, too. I. too, have had to redo a piece because I
messed up the titanium part trying to clean the silver.

I have not yet tried ionic cleaning on a piece with titanium in it,
but it ought to work. It is only 10v or so, plus I have found that
when there is silver with titanium, the voltage “prefers” the
(lower-resistance?) silver and the titanium won’t color even if I
want it to. Plus, the polarity is reversed.

Anyway, great experiment with the different silvers. Even if the
platinum-alloyed sterling darkens eventually, it might be a huge
improvement. How did you like working with it?

Noel


#5
Silver has a wonderful colour which is much warmer than the
platinum group metals and so I would hate to plate it. Also for me,
the word "plated" conjours up an inherent "cheapness" with regard
to quality so I don't really want to get into plating myself. 

With regard to “cheapness” plating was once considered to be an
embelishment. During my aprenticeship we used to heavy etch silver
and then plate with mercury/gold (not even going to mention the
health and safety) on a regular basis. we also used both a red and
yellow gilding solutions to add contrast.

While I will agree that silver has a great warmth to it. I still
inlay it with gold and other metals when I feel a piece warrents it.

I also have the pleasure of making a special signet ring in silver
and plating with black Rhodium, I dont know of a precious metal that
is black I could use and get it hallmarked. I also gild on a regular
basis as I repair old cigarette cases.

As to the problem with tarnishing, when there were decent amounts of
nickel in Sterling, tarnish was something we never got. And you dont
need to live near the coast, here in Northampton my silver tarnishes
just as easily…

Barrie
www.jewellerybybarrie.co.uk


#6

Hi Barrie,

I know what you mean about plating silver with gold being an
embellishment, but I was referring to just the word “plated” which
does seem to put people off. Obviously silver plated base metal is
"cheaper" than solid silver and that’s NOT what we’re talking about
here but the mere word sounds cheap like some sort of cover up.
Maybe it’s my own “narrow-mindedness” coming into play but I was
disappointed when I discovered that all my white gold jewellery was
plated with rhodium. Why do the majority of jewellers keep rhodium
plating a heavily guarded secret if it is seen as an embellishment
with a more valuable metal? In the case of white gold, they don’t
want to advertise such a thing because it is a cover up - covering
up the fact that white gold is in fact faintly yellow. They don’t
want their customers to know that they will be back into the shop on
a regular basis to have their piece replated. So as you can tell I’m
not a fan.

However, I do really like gold inlay/overlay and would like to have
a go at it myself. It’s a completely different issue.

I hope I’m not opening up a new can of worms with anything I’ve
said. I don’t want to offend anyone who likes to rhodium plate - it’s
just my opinion.

Helen
UK


#7

Hi Noel,

Even if the platinum-alloyed sterling darkens eventually, it might
be a huge improvement. How did you like working with it? 

Works just like normal silver. Maybe a bit harder. The 10% solution
is definitely harder. The fun was in alloying it. I thought that the
platinum would sort of dissolve into the molten silver like copper
does when you alloy sterling silver. However, this proved not to be
the case at all…I had to use a new platinum crucible and heat the
platinum to melting point. Then I added the silver in slowly. The
silver did not like to be heated so hot and I had clouds of silver
smoke in the workshop. It is a bit of a schlep. I had a closer look
at my watchstrap ( I took it off, ha ha ) and both platinum alloys
have no tarnish on. I haven’t worked with it much other than making a
watch strap for my one year test…

Cheers, Hans.


#8

Hi Hans,

I have been wearing a bangle bracelet that is cast out of 3% (I
think it might actually be 3.5%) platinum sterling silver alloy for
about a year. It has a hammer textured surface and is very shiney
silver color without any polishing except what happens during
wearing. I did have this one very odd experience when we were
attempting to slightly adjust the shape of one of these bangle
bracelets. The goldsmith who was doing this was only using his hands
– no hammers – and the bracelet broke in three pieces. I was
standing right there when it happened. I have sold a few dozen of
these bracelets and haven’t had anyone else come in with bracelet
pieces which I am sure they would do if this were to happen to one of
their bracelets. Still, it does make ya wonder…

I haven’t tried the higher percentage platinum sterling alloys as I
am pretty happy with this low percentage one.

I do notice that the bracelets in the case eventually are not quite
as bright silver as the one I am wearing tho they are not dull and
badly tarnished either.

Janet


#9

Hi Janet,

If we cast it, it was 3.5%. You may or may not remember that we
tried to discontinue the platinum silver at one time. This was due,
in part, to its tendency to be brittle for some applications. We
were compelled to reverse our decision when many of our designers
expressed their unhappiness with our decision, wanting instead to
just deal with the limitations. That being said, I would never sell
anything that I was unwilling to stand behind. If you want to return
that bangle for metal credit you may.

On the news front, we have found a more consistent source for the
3.5% grain a few months back and now offer the 1% as well. Also, we
have invented a method for making waxes with the same resolution as
the Hi Def material. The results are unbelievable! I can’t wait to
show it to you. I should be visiting the SF office later this month
or early Feb. If you want you can reach me on my cell as I am out of
the office today. I’ll send that in a separate e-mail. Hope all is
well.

Jason
CH