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Rhodium plating tanzanite jewelry


#1

We occasionally have tanzanite rings in set in white gold to be sized
up or down and since we rhodium plate anything white gold or
platinum, we would do these pieces also. My boss had an unusual
experience where he rhodiumed a ring with tanzanite in it and the
tanzanite changed color on him. Now if we get a tanzanite ring we
won’t rhodium plate it. Does rhodium affect tanzanite? Other than
opal, lapis, pearl or turquoise, what other materials would rhodium
destroy?


#2

I might suspect that the culprit was the electrocleaner, or rather
the 160 or more associated with the process.

I’ve rhodiumed Tanzanite without problems so I don’t believe its a
chemical reaction you’re getting, as would be the case with pearls.

You can electroclean at a cooler temperature for a longer period,
let it air cool a bit before rinse.


#3
we rhodium plate anything white gold or platinum, 

Why the heck do you rhodium plate platinum??? It’s already white.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
www.spirerjewelers.com


#4

We rhodium plate platinum jewelry so that the color is uniform
throughout the whole piece; would anyone not rhodium plate a ring
they have retipped using the traditional torch and white gold solder
method since using platinum solder would require more heat than what
stones can handle (or charging more for resetting). It is not my
intention to sound negative or anything, this is just how we do
things here.

Thanks for the suggestions Neil…I remember having rhodium plated
tanzanite stuff before without a hitch but just wanted to know for
sure for future reference.

Rene’ Howard


#5
I remember having rhodium plated tanzanite stuff before without a
hitch but just wanted to know for sure for future reference. 

When I read original post of tanzanite changing color after rhodium
bath, it piqued my interest. Under ordinary conditions this should
not happen. So after thinking for a while, I can offer 3 theories:

  1. There is another deposit of gem quality zoisite (Tanzanite) which
    not very well known. It is Alchori deposit new Scardu (India). This
    mine produces colorless to green crystals as opposed to blue coming
    from Africa. It is possible to give these stone blue coloration, but
    treatment is not permanent.

  2. Tanzanite is trichroic. For best color, stones are oriented
    perpendicular to the optic axis. This orientation resulting in small
    yield. Orienting parallel to the optic axis would result in much
    better yield, but the color would suffer. With some “gemological
    magic” the color can be improved, but as mentioned before nothing
    last
    forever.

  3. It is possible that after plating, the inside of the setting
    became reflective, that would change the optical path of light
    through the stone. Since Tanzanite colour is direction sensitive,
    that could result in the observed effect.

Leonid Surpin.


#6
We rhodium plate platinum jewelry so that the color is uniform
throughout the whole piece; would anyone not rhodium plate a ring
they have retipped using the traditional torch and white gold
solder method since using platinum solder would require more heat
than what stones can handle (or charging more for resetting). 

Just my two cents, but I’ve now and then been able to make a pretty
good bit of money by fixing prior retipping or other repair jobs on
platinum that were done this way with gold solders. It used to be
that one didn’t always have any other choices, when mountings were
such as did not allow removal of the stones, so retipping with gold
solder was the only option. Now, with laser welders and to an extent,
capacative discharge welders, one can retip platinum with platinum,
producing a repair that’s as good as, or sometimes even better than,
the original metal. In this situation, frankly, I consider the use of
white gold solder to retip platinum jewelry as being rather poor
practice, no longer consistant with offering the customer the service
quality they should get. If a repair shop is not equipped to do their
own laser welding (and the continuing decline in the cost of entry
level lasers makes this increasingly hard to defend), then in my view
such jobs should be referred to, or subcontracted to a shop that can
do it right. As a comparison, lets suppose your shop only has smith
little torches at the bench, and the largest tip sizes you have is
about a #4 tip. Now lets suppose you get in a large sterling silver
gents ring with a turqoise stones set in it to size down. There’s no
way your tiny torch is going to be able to solder the seam in that
ring if the turqoise is properly heat sinked. Would you unset the
stones, or cut the ring size down normally but solder the seam with
lead solder, which your torch could do, or maybe even avoid that
nasty heat issue all together by gluing the joint with super glue. Or
maybe simply sizing the ring by wrapping yarn around the shank till
it’s smaller. None of these methods, of course, would generally be
considered acceptable practice by any decently trained jeweler. We’d
either unset the stone, or go buy a larger torch, or reject the job.
And that’s with inexpensive silver. Why would any ethical repair
shop still offer second rate methods when better methods are
available. If your shop doesn’t have the ability to properly handle
platinum, wouldn’t it be better to turn down the work? Just because
the solder methods were traditional doesn’t make them still
acceptable now that significantly better ways can be offered.

Oh, and while I’m on that subject, do you have problems with solder
seams in sizing joints polishing out to a line when sizing platinum
rings with solder seams (instead of fusing the joints)? If so, have
you heard of PMWest’s line of plumb platinum solders? Yeah, they cost
more. But perfect color match, and no lines polishing out or seams
cracking or breaking at some later time as can sometimes happen with
the palladium based solders…

Like I said, just my 2 cents. No doubt plenty of folks who don’t
have access to a laser or PUK type welder and can’t find someone to
subcontract that work to, will disagree. And I suppose I shouldn’t
argue, since as I said, I often am able to charge a healthy price to
repair someone elses butchered repair work. Most likely, what I need
to charge to fix such botched up jobs is a good deal more than I’d
have needed to charge to just do it right in the first place. The
customers seem to value their jewelry enough that they will pay
these higher fees, so it stands to reason that many would have paid
more in the first place, if offered the option to have it done it
right. And with the ever increasing value of the platinum itself, the
justification for doing it the best way is stronger than ever.

Peter Rowe


#7

At least the solder can be removed when a more “proper” repair can
be instituted for the right price.

While you’re at it, Peter. Why don’t you mention the shoddy repairs
that are done by “butchers” with lasers. I remember a very good case
in point where some hack had welded a hinge back onto a perfectly
serviceable pocket watch. Now when the tube wears out no skilled
jeweler will be able to unsolder the old tube to replace it. In fact
if someone tries, he runs the risk of shredding the entire seat while
trying to remove it. I’ll further wish him luck when he tries to
grind a new seat for the new hinge. Undoubtedly he’ll create a curved
hinge that will last about a third as long as the original.

As for the new plumb platinum solders, Although they are nice and I
use them a lot, they too often leave a visible seam. Some jewelers
that I have met don’t like them at all for that reason as well as the
fact that they flow a little differently than more traditional
solders. If possible I suggest continuing to weld with the same alloy
that the shank is made of. When using solders pay attention to what
works for you and what doesn’t.

Let’s drop the name calling and try to continue our growth with a
little more dignity. Every tool has it’s own advantages and
drawbacks. Everyone doesn’t have the same experience, education, time
or finances to do every service in the ways that I might like. I
particularly hate the ways in which a lot of junk is manufactured
today.

Have I told you how much I hate gold with silicon in it? Have I
mentioned that I really hate cobalt in my platinum?

Bruce D. Holmgrain
JACMBJ


#8
At least the solder can be removed when a more "proper" repair can
be instituted for the right price. 

True enough, especially with platinum, where one can remove gold
solder with aqua regia in many cases, without harming the platinum.
But it’s extra work and cost for the customer, compared with simply
doing a good job in the first place.

While you're at it, Peter. Why don't you mention the shoddy
repairs that are done by "butchers" with lasers. 

Also all too true. Some new owners of lasers, or especially,
non-goldsmith owners of jewelry shops who’ve bought a laser and think
it’s a magic tool that can do everything perfectly, simply assume
that if they CAN weld something, they automatically SHOULD do so.
Often they ignore the fact that proper solder joints can, being
capillary joints, be less visible and intrusive to detailed jewelry,
and that some metals are simply difficult to weld well or neatly,
and solder is a better option there.

It simply goes to show that inept butchery can transcend any set of
tools…

As for the new plumb platinum solders, Although they are nice and
I use them a lot, they too often leave a visible seam. Some
jewelers that I have met don't like them at all for that reason as
well as the fact that they flow a little differently than more
traditional solders. If possible I suggest continuing to weld with
the same alloy that the shank is made of. When using solders pay
attention to what works for you and what doesn't. 

Well said.

Let's drop the name calling and try to continue our growth with a
little more dignity. 

My bad. I need to remember to read my replies twice and count to ten
before posting, and to be especially careful when a response is based
on some “trigger” pet peeve button being pushed. Thanks for reminding
me.

Have I told you how much I hate gold with silicon in it? Have I
mentioned that I really hate cobalt in my platinum? 

Yup. But hey, at least with the cobalt, you have the option of
seperating it with a magnet to keep it away from your more usable
scrap…

And while we’re at it, I suspect I’m gonna have to learn to at least
pretend to tolerate working with palladium. Nasty stuff, from what
i’ve tried so far. Our laser doesn’t do a good job with it, so I
can’t as easily fix the bothersome porosity that seems to show up in
so many of the castings, and I can’t even decently just melt it down
and fabricate the stuff, at least not with our melting equipment…
By the time all is said and done, I suspect the stuff won’t be quite
as much a money saver, either for us, or our customers, as they are
hoping. But time will tell.

cheers
Peter