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Rhodium plating pitfalls


#1

I am considering investing in a rhodium plating facility. I have done
a wee bit of research online and it is recommended on the rhodium
plating tutorials I have encountered that before rhodium plating on
silver one should nickel plate first, otherwise the alloys in the
silver will leech out and degrade the rhodium plating solution,
that’s if I understand what they are saying correctly.

Is this true? If it is, it would present me with difficulties due to
EU regulations that prohibit the use of nickel in jewellery when it
comes in contact with the skin. This could happen if the rhodium
wore off.

Any help would be much appreciated.
Aidan


#2

Aidan, For a number of years Legor Group has recommended preplating
silver items with palladium. This prevents the silver from affecting
the rhodium solution and keeps any nickel issues out of the
equation. Many manufacturers have found it possible to use less
rhodium to keep their products from tarnishing, at least for a
reasonable amount of time and wear.

Cliff
LegorUsa


#3
I am considering investing in a rhodium plating facility. I have
done a wee bit of research online and it is recommended on the
rhodium plating tutorials I have encountered that before rhodium
plating on silver one should nickel plate first... 

Why do you want to rhodium plate silver in the first place? Rhodium
plating is a great thing to do to “white” gold, but silver looks
nothing like white gold.

Plating sterling prevents the natural patina we all know and love.
And makes repairing it an added expense and hassle. As a to-the-trade
jeweler in the states, I urge my retail clients to avoid buying
plated sterling.


#4

“ORRIBLE”

I thought nickel plating under precious metal deposits had died out
years ago. Don’t do it its “Orrible”. Hard nickel plating was used as
a finish because it deposits with a bright finish. I have a beautiful
brass skeleton clock that has been nickel bright plated and then
flashed with hard gold. Its “Orrible”. The nickel deposit is as hard
as steel and I’m having to grind the surface back by hand with emery
paper. If you have to plate your silver, perhaps to cover fire stain
and reduce tarnishing, silver plate it, plated silver is pure silver
which is more tarnish resistant than Sterling. You can polish it off
if you have to. Rhodium deposit is harder than silver so if you have
to refinish it isn’t easy to get off.

“ORRIBLE” Hamish


#5

My Problems with rhodium are usually spotting,dark spots. This
problem occurs most often after i have used the same solution for a
period of time. I have had good fortune at time adding replenisher or
pen plating solution to the larger quantity usually 1/2 pint bottle.
which then began performing adequately during plating. other problems
included plating not adhering to platinum which may have been caused
by the acidity of the solution, the etching properties or whatever is
going on there chemically. My method of correcting plating solution
issues now are solved most easily by getting new solution, I find
that the time wasted not producing product is a much bigger loss than
a new bottle of rhodium. I rarely rhodium over silver so I cannot
comment about the silver contaminating the bath but i have had
wonderful results plating silver with palladium, leaving the item in
solution for longer periods with low voltage, if the item stays too
long sometimes it will mis-color but you then polish gently and
re-plate long enough to get good color


#6

Check out my blog post on the subject.

The ring that was used is still shiny to date, my customer tells me.

www.meevis.com


#7

Why would anyone rhodium plate over palladium? Palladium has a good
white color by itself, though it looks less like chrome than rhodium
does


#8

Hi Aidan,

it is recommended on the rhodium plating tutorials I have
encountered that before rhodium plating on silver one should nickel
plate first, otherwise the alloys in the silver will leech out and
degrade the rhodium plating solution

I was using rhodium (only occasionally) for several years before I
ever heard that business about the nickel pre-plate. It always seemed
to work just fine for me without it. Since nickel is a common
allergic material, I would have to weigh the possibility that it
could cause problems for the wearer. I will be interested to hear
what the experts have to say, since my experience is rather limited.
I will be interested also what they have to say about plating
directly on white gold.

Stephen Walker


#9
Why would anyone rhodium plate over palladium? Palladium has a
good white color by itself, though it looks less like chrome than
rhodium does 

Because rhodium plating is very hard and wear resistant and palladium
plating is not. The reason rhodium is so common a plating product for
jewelry is it plates as a bright hard surface so you don’t need to
put much on and it has reasonable wear characteristics. It still
should not be used on rings in my opinion because it requires
re-plating too often.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#10

good white color by itself, though it looks less like chrome than
rhodium does

Because rhodium plating is very hard and wear resistant and
palladium plating is not. The reason rhodium is so common a plating
product for jewelry is it plates as a bright hard surface so you
don't need to put much on and it has reasonable wear
characteristics. It still should not be used on rings in my opinion
because it requires re-plating too often. 

This was meant in reference to plating palladium on silver or other
metals instead of rhodium. Plating with palladium and then rhodium
is a good way to keep contaminating metals out of your rhodium bath
and provides a very good coating if you put enough of both materials
on the item.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#11

Good morning when people call us we suggest Nickel or Pd. most do
select Pd and have very good results.

Andy “The Tool Guy” Kroungold


#12

Are you saying you were plating rhodium directly onto silver for
years with no problems?!? Using the same solution? Or were they
occasional platings for which you made a fresh solution each time? It
was my understanding that silver contaminates the rhodium solution,
at least over time, causing staining.

Janet in Jerusalem


#13

You are correct Janet that the rhodium solution will be contaminated
if you put the silver in there directly. The trade pre-plates the
silver with nickel or some other plating that rhodium will not be
contaminated with and will adhere well. Electrocleaning is a must in
all steps.

Russ


#14
Are you saying you were plating rhodium directly onto silver for
years with no problems?!? Using the same solution? 

Yes, that is what I have been doing. Mostly I was plating on a de-ox
silver alloy by United Precious Metals (S-88) I use the same
solution on white gold. I don’t do a lot of plating, but enough that
I have gone through about 4 pints of solution in around 12 years.

I had been doing this for years before I was told it was a no-no.
But if I have been doing it wrong, what are the consequences? I
cannot see changing my practice and adding another step if I am
getting good results doing it the way I always have. If there is
something about this that I am missing, please tell me.

Stephen Walker


#15

You say you were doing your rhodium plating on a de-ox silver alloy
by United Precious Metals (S-88) and on white gold. The need to
nickel plate first is for rh plating on STERLING silver. .:-)…

Janet in Jerusalem


#16

Hi Stephen

Plating rhodium directly onto silver is a no-no. Silver will slowly
(over time and use) contaminate the rhodium solution. So it is
definitely NOTrecommended.

Most users doing this will eventually see a drop off in whiteness
and seemore of a grey color to their plating. Contamination is not
immediate. But If your process is good and you have an immaculate
work station, and if you go into the solution with current on you
will diminish the effects of contamination. Also if you are using
your solution to plate large batchesor large items you may be
depleting your solution before it is contaminated. So in this case I
would say don’t change anything. But know that you are contaminating
the solution slowly Have a great day

Sessin Durgham
Rio Grande
Technical Support
1-800-545-6566 ext 13837


#17

Thanks for the clarification Sessin

Plating rhodium directly onto silver is a no-no. Silver will
slowly (over time and use) contaminate the rhodium solution. So it
is definitely NOT recommended. 

The impression I get from the various people who have weighed in on
this are that the contamination is fatal error, which is entirely
inconsistent with my experience. I have noticed some slight greying
of the results towards the end of the solution’s life. Your
explanation that the contamination is a gradual thing rather than
sudden and catastrophic makes a lot of sense. I think this is
probably one of those things where most jewelers faithfully follow
the recommended procedures and never really experience what happens
if you don’t.

Stephen Walker


#18

Rhodium plated objects are inherently more difficult to repair. The
rhodium will have to be removed, the repair completed, then the
rhodium reapplied. Rhodium’s only purpose is to protect a beautiful
metal from tarnishing. Why not use Argentium or any other de-ox
alloy?

Am I missing something?

Jeff Herman
hermansilver.com


#19

When repairing silver you might try RH Firescoff. You can solder
without removing the rhodium.

Andy “The Tool Guy” Kroungold


#20
Rhodium plated objects are inherently more difficult to repair.
The rhodium will have to be removed, the repair completed, then the
rhodium reapplied. Rhodium's only purpose is to protect a
beautiful metal from tarnishing. Why not use Argentium or any other
de-ox alloy? 

The Mexican’s and Thai’s make cheap sterling jewelry and "rhodium"
plate it for export to the states. (Personally I think it’s hard
chrome plating) I refuse to work on it (I’m a to-the-trade repairman)
and suggest no American retailers carry it.

Paf Dvorak