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Rhodium plating platinum?


#1

Peeking from the shadows of avid lurking, I finally have a post
worthy question: What are everyone’s views on rhodium plating
platinum? A vendor or two we have used states that it protects the
platinum from the natural patina…thoughts?

Thanks for all the great info!

Kimberlee Hughes
Donald Haack Diamonds
Charlotte, NC


#2

Kimberlee,

I would question the value of plating a Platinum ring with a Rhodium
finish. What is the purpose?

If Platinum is polished correctly the finish will last a long time
and the patina that Platinum develops after many years is considered
a plus not a minus. In any case by the time Platinum does develop a
patina the Rhodium finish will most likely have worn off.

It sounds to me like they are trying to take a short cut on the
finishing process.

Greg DeMark
email: greg@demarkjewelry.com
Website: www.demarkjewelry.com
Custom Jewelry - Handmade Jewelry - Antique Jewelry


#3
   What are everyone's views on rhodium plating platinum? 

It pains me to see that most noble metal brought so low as of
lately. First, there were the clunky castings made by self styled
goldsmiths who had no understanding of platinum’s characteristics,
let alone it’s potential. Then, to accommodate these hacks, who had
no clue how to carve a wax for a platinum casting, let alone
fabricate with it, they came up with an alloy of platinum with
cobalt, which markedly compromised it’s best aspects of being tarnish
proof and resistant to wear. Now, the indignity of Rhodium, which
covers the beautiful, silky whiteness of the metal with a hard,
steely sheen. Platinum is, in my opinion, primarily a metal suited
to fabrication, and used as such, one can exceed any work in any
other metal in terms of delicacy and complexity. It is wonderful to
set stones in and far outlasts gold. If your gravers are properly
polished, it carves easily. I once had a vendor who expressed his
distain for platinum by saying it was “gun metal gray”. I knew right
away his ignorance and surmised that this was sour grapes on his
part. He probably secretly wished he was selling a platinum line.
Take what vendors tell you with the proverbial grain of salt.

David L. Huffman


#4

Rhodium plating is used to give white gold a “pop”, or a brighter
white. Most high line manufacturers will not rhodium plate their
platinum pieces because the high white color of platinum is already
quite eye pleasing.

Steve Burns


#5

David

Well said and I could not agree more. After 28 years on the bench I
think the two worst things in the business today are white gold and
cobalt/platinum. I started, so long ago, restoring antique jewelry
and fabricating in platinum. (bead and bright cutting and lots of
graver work) I still make lots of platinum and pave’ and it is what
platinum jewelry is supposed to look like. I come in contact with
many so called “goldsmiths” that openly admit that they are a
goldsmith but don’t do stone setting, or not fancy cuts, or most of
all, don’t work on platinum. If the only knew that it is truely the
easiest metal to work with. Well thats my take on this soap box hope
I did not bore to many.

Mark Rivers, Master Goldsmith


#6

I will second everything that David Huffman said and add that
rhodium plating anything is just plain wrong. It is a way to get
around material problems for just long enough to sell the item get
it out the door. And to hell with the customers expectations of
quality and durability.

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160


@James_Binnion
Member of the Better Business Bureau


#7

David H.

As a setter, there is no metal more pleasant than Platinum. It just
does what “you” expect in the realm of setting. It forgives any
slight mistakes, when you push over a claw, its ‘stays’ there.

No bouncing back at you after polishing! Filing and polishing is a
Platinum ‘art’, but the results are fantastic! If this …“salesman”…
has a “attitude” about this metal, he had no idea how it feels.
Setting Princess solitaires is a setters dream in Platinum, no fear
of claws breaking, you can secure each claw as if “its butter”.
Raising beads and Bright-Cutting no comparison to gold!

It is far superior than gold in its final appearance as well as
mfg’ing capabilities. Costlier! but so great in its final appearance.
Rhodium plating on this adorable metal, why??? and the need to
cover-up its high lustre.

I am a setter for a very large mega chain retailer up here in
Toronto, they do not even think of plating on this metal. I even
made my daughters engagement ring and wedding band for her in
Platinum…Gerry!


#8

HI Kimberlee,

As you are aware, goldsmiths usually make use of Rhodium plating to
get the fabricated white gold (might be slightly yellowish) items to
a bright attractive white finish. When you mention, ‘Platinum’ there
is no other word as to describe the best property a metal has as far
as the whiteness it has in its own right. If the Platinum item,
after fabricating it, you undergo the principles of a good finish,
such as from 400 grit to a 1200 grit paper, Magnetic Finishing, and
then a proper initial buff with the white/grey (for Platinum) medium
and finally with Blue Magic Polishing Cream buff, I am certain that
you will obtain the best results for life if not for eternity,
without making use of Rhodium Plating. Try it!

Joseph Tanti
Malta
http://jostanti.cjb.net


#9

David & Greg:

I truly appreciate your insights. The question became relevant for
me as I have many customers who come from both sides of the fence.
Some choose platinum for the inherent quality of patina over time
lending to an antique look. I do have some that choose platinum for
its durability and beauty in the newly finished state, but are
disappointed at how quickly the polish finish is lost in daily wear.
I have salespeople who actually steer customers towards 18kwg and
away from platinum if they feel that the customer is going to fall
in the latter category. We are simply looking for alternatives for
the people who want and are willing to pay for the coveted metal,
but who arent interested in the maintenance required to keep their
high polished finish.

It is an age old conundrum, to be sure. I appreciate all opinions.

Kimberlee A. Hughes
Donald Haack Diamonds
Charlotte, NC
www.donaldhaack.com


#10
I will second everything that David Huffman said and add that
rhodium plating anything is just plain wrong. It is a way to get
around material problems for just long enough to sell the item get
it out the door. And to hell with the customers expectations of
quality and durability. 

Jim

What do you advise for satisfying my customer who wants her diamonds
reset in white gold settings that have that slight yellow tinge as
they come from the manufacturer, and I show them to her for approval
before I set them,and she asks, “they won’t be that
color when they are finished, will they?”


#11

Hello Jim and All:

   I will second everything that David Huffman said and add that
rhodium plating anything is just plain wrong. It is a way to get
around material problems for just long enough to sell the item get
it out the door. And to hell with the customers expectations of
quality and durability. 

Thank you Jim. I couldn’t agree with anyone more than I do with you
about Rhodium. It seems I have stood on the soap box for years about
my dissatisfaction with the industry trend of using rhodium to solve
white gold material problems. I have gone so far as to say it is a
unfair trade practice to sell an item that is plated and not
disclose it to the customer at the point of sale.

Michael R. Mathews Sr.


#12

Dear Kimberly, I heartily concur with Gerald, David and Mark.
Rhodium plating platinum is akin to sacrilege!

Rex Steele Merten
National President,
Gold and Silversmiths Guild of Australia.


#13

Rhodium plating platinum is nothing more than a way to cover up low
karat gold soldering that got into areas where one does not want to
see that yellowish tinge that will occurs over time. As said by a
few of you, proper soldering techniques along with the proper amount
platinum solder and polishing is all that is needed. In addition,
platinum should be burnished before it’s polished, this will harden
the surface and help make it slightly more resistant to those scuff
marks clients complain about. I have worked with platinum for over
30 years and very rarely have problems other than with poor
castings or bad metal that I have started with. Of course I don’t
like that cobalt platinum that was being used for a while.

May all of you have more work than you know what to do with this
season.


#14

I think retail stores are addicted to Rhodium. They don’t know what
natural metals even look like.


#15

Disgraceful.

We used to say it makes it look like an 1950’s car bumper. They’re
all plastic today.

Any high grade nice white alloy should never be covered up. All the
low grade stuff has to be hidden.

I have seen over the years yellow gold solder repairs on good
platinum pieces because the guy didn’t have white solder. That should
be plated. Shame on them.

People should never plate our white gold arthritic shanks as even
our 14 K white is brighter than anything on the market.

We make our own gold mix specially conceived for our mechanisms.

Our 18K white gold is a perfect match for platinum rings. As we
don’t use platinum for mechanisms, it is too soft.

Allan Creates
P.O. Box 51 Cote St-Luc
Montreal Quebec
Canada
Tel: 514-488-7553
Fax: 514-489-7299
Superringfit.com
Perfectly Fabulous Fit Arthritic Shanks


#16
    What do you advise for satisfying my customer who wants her
diamonds reset in white gold settings that have that slight yellow
tinge as they come from the manufacturer, and I show them to her
for approval before I set them,and she asks, "they won't be that
color when they are finished, will they?" 

Educate your customer as to the realities of white gold i.e. that
you or your setter and every other goldsmith have great difficulty
in setting in high nickel white and that it is just plain difficult
to work in whether cast or fabricated. Tell her that to get around
this that many (most) manufacturers have shifted to pale yellowish
golds ( I will not call most of what is sold as “white” gold by that
name because it just isn’t white) and rhodium plate the goods, and
that this plating wears off in a very short time on high wear areas
like the heads and back of the shank and that if she wants to keep
that rhodium white finish she can come back in to your shop every
couple of months and have it re-plated or she can opt for true white
metals like platinum or palladium white golds or high nickel whites
with platinum heads then leave the choice to her. If your customer
wants the rhodium so be it but at least you have advised her as to
its limits. I can’t tell you how many people ask me to look at their
ring that they thought was white gold and they are wondering why it
is looking so yellowish in areas, most are truly offended that the
jeweler who sold it to them did not disclose the fact that it was
rhodium plated pale yellow gold.

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160


@James_Binnion
Member of the Better Business Bureau


#17
    some . . choose platinum for its durability and beauty in the
newly finished state, but are disappointed at how quickly the
polish finish is lost in daily wear. 

Hello Kimberlee;

This is a design problem, I think. It’s only lately that platinum
has been used to the effect of having broad, high polished surfaces.
Most older work in platinum makes extensive use of intricate
piercing, bright cutting and engraving. This avoids exposing the
metal in areas where high finish is critical to the aesthetic of the
design. I also dread the solution of 18K white. It’s not even as
white as 14K, and it’s miserable to work with and get’s brittle with
age, unless it’s a paladium alloy, in which case it’s not yellowish,
it’s grayish. I think the solution is to carry inventory that
exhibits an appropriate relationship between material and design,
and then educate customers about wearability issues. Why not? What
soccer-mom/dad would buy a mini-van with Corinthian leather interior?
Every see what melted Crayons do to that stuff? I once saw a
customer who bought, from my former employer’s store, a platinum
eternity band set with very long baguettes all around. I didn’t sell
it to her, I’m glad to say. She came back, tennis racket in hand, to
complain that one of the baguettes was broken, the second one in 2
weeks.

David L. Huffman


#18
 she asks, "they won't be that color when they are finished, will
they?" 

Hi Richard;

That caught my eye. I think if a customer asked me that, I’d have
to say,

"Actually, that will be the color. I can Rhodium plate it, but that
will wear off in a fairly short time. If the issue is to have a
white metal to set off the diamonds better, short of an all platinum
mounting, perhaps we can design something using platinum for the
stone settings, and yellow gold for the rest of the mounting. If
you’re not in a hurry for this, I can send for a couple samples of
other white gold alloys to see if any of them are more to your
liking. Of course, both these options put us into a custom mounting,
which will run slightly more money. I’d be glad to give you a price
for this mounting in platinum too, for your consideration. . .it’s a
wonderful metal for jewelry. "

If they’re ready to go to the next level to get what they want, then
that’s a better sale. If they understand that what you are showing
them is the real color of white gold, and that most of what they see
in stores is plated, if they don’t want to spend more, then they’ll
go for what you have and either have it plated or not. Just don’t be
surprised if when you sell them the plated version and you end up
having to re-plate it every third month.

David L. Huffman


#19

Orchidians,

Having received several responses about rhodium plating white gold, I
will share my experience. I have a retail store. My store is in a
neighborhood, and my customers are frequent repeat customers.We sell
manufacturer’s goods, and I do custom gold and platinum. My
experience in most people who want white metal choose white gold over
platinum because of the price. The pieces I have sold, always with
disclosure, that we bought and the pieces I make have either held up
well, or my customers do not care that the rhodium wears off.

arrings and pendants are an never an issue, as I tell people that
those items last forever unless they fall down and scrape their
necks or ears frequently.

My experience is that there is more regret by customers who have
platinum that were not informed that platinum is soft and develops a
patina than regret by customers who were not informed that their
white gold was rhodium plated. I think that white gold customers
understand that rather that being deceived, they understand that it
is a necessary evil to have the white look they desire, and desire is
what I mean.

y experience is that rhodium can last several years depending on how
hard the customer is on their rings, and how good of a job the
plater does.

I have never had an irritated customer about rhodium in 17 years of
retail.

With education about negatives and positives about characteristics of
each metal and no prejudice on my part, I believe my customers are
apparently to take responsibility for their decision.

The last ring I re-plated that I sold, I sold about 3-4 years prior,
and I believe that my customer feels that $30 over that period of
time is a reasonable price to maintain the look.

I would never plate anything I made in platinum.

Richard Hart


#20
    I have never had an irritated customer about rhodium in 17
years of retail. 

They may not come back to let you know, they may just take their
business elsewhere.

It sounds like you do all the right things and that is good.
However there are too many retailers who don’t, too many stories
about yellow goods plated to make them “white” and shoddy plating
jobs. Too many folks don’t have a clue about proper plating
procedures and bath maintenance and as a result you get plating that
lasts a couple of months rather than a couple of years.

I still belive the best solution is to use materials that don’t
require plating but you obviously have a different view of the
process and strive for a high quality plating job.

To each his own.

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160


@James_Binnion
Member of the Better Business Bureau