I've spoken to several local jewelry repair people who have told me
that rhodium can't be plated directly onto silver, and that one first
needs to nickel plate the silver, then plate the rhodium over the
nickel. But I'm confused:
Nickel is outlawed in Europe, so many of the silver manufacturers in
Thailand produced two different types of plating--one for their
customers based in the United States and another for their European
customers. As I understand it, the American customer's jewelry
contains silver>nickel>rhodium finish, while orders being sent to
Europe are nickel-free silver>rhodium finish.
I didn't assay any of the jewelry. However, the jewelry that
contained nickel was attracted to a magnet, while the supposedly
nickel-free items were non-magnetic. Interestingly, the jewelry
containing nickel had, in my opinion, a more attractive finish.
Nonetheless, I bought a lot of nickel-free items in order to avoid
problems with customers who have nickel allergies.
So what's the story? How do Thai manufactures provide rhodium plated
jewelry to their Europe customers without using nickel?
On a related note, although I have no idea whether this is true or
not, an importer told me that a lot of the cheap silver jewelry
supposedly plated with rhodium is actually plated with tin! Any
possible truth to this?!