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Rhodium on sterling silver


Do you rhodium plate silver, and if so, what are your long term results?

I like working with silver but seldom get requests for it. I have one customer who reorders a particular sterling pendant, 6 at a time, then puts them in his showcase. Even though they are deox silver they tarnish a bit over time. I’d like to try to remedy that if I can.

In the old days we never would directly rhodium sterling because the rhodium was not impervious to oxides. We had to flash copper plate, then nickel plate to get a good barrier coat that would prevent future oxidation bleeding through.

I’m just not sure if rhodium alone is a good long term solution with the newer low oxidation sterling silver alloys?

Any thoughts?


Well I know everybody says that you have to plate palladium on first and then rhodium but I have silver sample pieces in my case that I only rhodium plated two years ago and they look fine. For things that I want to stay silver colored and not look like rhodium I spray with clear powder coat and bake in an oven at 325 degrees. Powder coat is a finely ground hard plastic that is used in the automotive industry.


Great information. Thanks


Speaking as someone who has worked in busy trade shops…
I bloody well HATE rhodium plated jewelry. Especially silver that has been
rhodium plated.
It is a total nightmare to to take a torch to. When sizing rings, as you
cut and bend the shank the plating cracks and splits .When you take a torch
to it it blisters and peels off. That would be fine if the whole thing lost
it’s plating. But nooooo. It blisters only in spots. The whole ring then
has to be hand sanded through three layers of plating.and refinished. That
adds twenty minutes to labor costs and makes sizing un profitable and very
unpleasant. Chains blister too when soldered on. No way to sand those links
Eventually the plating wears off and the customer is left with a ring that
has both nickel and cooper showing through.
Sorry abut the rant. But just sayin’…
It’s silver. It tarnishes. Even Argentium.
Embrace it and learn to live with it.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
-Jo Haemer


Jo speaks truth. One has only to size one rhodium plated ring to learn that cruel lesson! The chrome like finish looks like cheap costume jewelry - at least to me.

Judy in Kansas who watched a game win last night.


Agreed. Always avoid plating silver. It has its own natural beauty and plating will not only look unnatural but can create future problems.

This is an unusual and unique situation. The margins are very low and refinishing of this mixed finish piece is very time consuming and costly. So we need something to prevent tarnishing of a silver pendant. It must be silver yet must not tarnish. :slight_smile:


I’ve been reading about chains on Rio’s website and noticed that they sometimes say they plate sterling silver chains with fine silver to keep them bright.

Would that work? Plating the sterling with fine silver?

(I may be way off base here, but I thought I’d post the idea anyway.)


I’ve plated sterling with fine ailver and also depletion gilded large
pieces of holloware as well as smaller pieces of jewelry. It still
eventually tarnishes. Though much more slowly.
I do it to hide fire scale, not as a tarnish prevention procedure.
Now that I mostly use Continuum silver I don’t have issues with fire
scale so much.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
-Jo Haemer


Yes the commercially plated pieces are a nightmare to size or repair. I mostly turn them down. But I have noticed that this is not the case with the very light plating I can do in my shop. One of the reasons I like powder coating is that I can drop the piece in a stripper that is made for it and have all the plating eaten off of it in an hour. Then I can solder with out problems and re-coat. The down side is that it will get on the stones if you don’t protect them with silicone tape.


I had the same “pealing” effect but I noticed that it happened only when there was a nickel plate underneath. I had no issues with white gold which was rhodium plated.


Sterling jewelry is often plated with fine silver. This will keep it white (silver) until it is sold. Once the piece is worn, the plating will start wearing off. This is especially true of chains because they have constant abrasion. Also, even pure silver tarnishes over time.

Rhodium plated sterling will remain silver and shiny since rhodium is in the platinum family (doesn’t tarnish) and is very hard (doesn’t scratch like silver).


Can you please provide name of clear powder coat product.


I order it online from Eastwood automotive.