I have a growing concern about the use of rhodium plating in so much
of the jewelry industry in the last few years. It seems to have
become more popular since platinum has taken it’s share of the
market, and many more women have taken to white gold because of
Manufacturers that are casting in 18K white are using more Paladium
white and other alloys that are better for casting and setting but
have a grayish or yellowish color. In order for the item to look
bright white instead of dull yellow it is plated with rhodium.
For earrings and pendants and broaches, this is not such a big deal
because the wear rate is much slower on them. For rings, I think it
is a very bad idea and is leading to customers being dissatisfied with
their purchase because as they wear the ring the plating wears off to
reveal off-colored shanks and prong tips. The idea of polishing the
customer’s jewelry for them when they come in is pretty much out.
As a bench jeweler I am now forced to have a complete plating set-up
in my shop and be exposed to the hazards of plating solutions.
Every time I size one of these rings I must replate. Every time a
sales person buffs a customer’s item without knowing it is plated, I
have to replate it. Every time a customer comes in wondering why the
ring we sold them is turning yellow on the bottom or the prongs, I
have to explain to them that it is plated and then refinish it and
There is no disclosure of this to the customer at the
time of purchase and it is completely legal to sell it as 18K white
gold jewelry, but should we?
My boss buys lines that sell, whether they are well made or not. He
doesn’t really know if they are built well or not, because he is not
a jeweler and has no mechanical ability. I have cautioned him time
and again that selling that kind of jewelry is going to come back to
bite us, since we size and repair for no charge, anything that we
How would you like it if you bought a brand new white Jaguar only to
find that after six months of driving it, it looks primer gray? Some
manufacturers are casting the whole item in yellow and then rhodium
plating over the stone setting or pave work. This is and has been an
acceptable procedure as long as the area was recessed. When the
rhodium plating is applied to an area that is going to wear off, then
it is just bad workmanship.
I have even received rhodium plated stud earrings and wedding bands
from Stuller. This makes sizing and alterations, like changing posts,
Has anyone else noticed this in the lines carried by the store you
work in or the stores you do work for?
Michael R. Mathews Sr. J.A. Certified Master Bench Jeweler
Victoria, Texas USA