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Rhodium Plating 18K white rings


#1

Dear All

I’m considering using rhodium plating on 18ct white rings, following
customer comments that the ‘natural’ white isn’t white enough! Any
one out there got comments or observations on this technique?
Specifically:

How reliable is rhodium plating when applied to 18ct white rings?
Does it wear off? If so, how long does that take? Any tips for
making the plating stay on longer?

Thanks for all assistance,

Shawn


#2

Shawn,

Rhodium on white gold is standard operating procedure. Yes, it will
wear off. First on the shank and other broad areas that are exposed
to a lot of wear. However, in the 15 years that I have been doing
rhodium plating I can count the number of times on one hand when
someone asked to have the item replated after wearing it for a couple
of years. When applied correctly the plating wears off so slowly
that the color change is rarely noticed. Of course if the ring is
compared up against another shiney rhodiumed ring you’ll see the
difference. As well, if you have a white gold alloy that is
significantly yellow then as the plating wears off it will be more
apparent.

As far as how long the plating will last, that is a function of how
often and how much wear the ring will get. A wedding band or
engagement ring will not last as long as a ring that is less often.
I really can’t say how long that will be. However, most
manufacturers don’t even consider this, the main factor is that
plating makes the product look much more appealing. The great thing
about rhodium as opposed to gold plating is that rhodium is much more
scratch resistant. This is a function of the metal used (rhodium)
and the way the metallic atoms form as they are deposited on the
item. The structure of the atoms are much more organized and
therefore tougher, not to mention that rhodium is simply a very hard
metal. If you want to get an idea of how wear resistant rhodium is,
plate a scrapped yellow band rhodium and a scrapped white gold ring
yellow gold then try to polish the plating off! You can get the
yellow off with red rouge alone. With rhodium it will take a lot
more than red rouge to get the plating off!

There really isn’t anything I have found that will get rhodium to
last longer. But it is pretty tough when the ordinary measures are
taken.

Larry Seiger


#3

18K white, since it has more gold in it than 14K white, tends to
appear a bit yellower. It’s often rhodium plated by manufacturers.
Personally, I detest the stuff, since I do trade work and end up
sizing a lot of these plated rings. Trouble is, you can’t do a good
job just touching up the rhodium where you sized it, you have to
polish it all off, and that’s quite a job, since the stuff is just
flat-out tough! Usually I just polish the area worked on and take
out my pen plater for a touch up. Doesn’t look perfect, but for $6-7
per sizing, I’m going to charge them extra if they insist. It will,
of course, wear off over time and start to look splotchy. But that
hard, white gleam is what I think a lot of merchants believe their
customers want.

David L. Huffman