Have you ever wondered what rhodium plating actually is?

Have you ever wondered what we do to magically make your dull white gold look brand new? White gold is an alloy of yellow gold (it’s made up of a mixture of yellow gold, plus other white metals which can include platinum, palladium, nickel and silver) and so it is naturally a soft grey colour – see the raw piece below.

raw metal copy

This natural colour is often considered to be a bit ordinary for precious jewellery, and so the majority of white gold jewellery has a rhodium plating added to give it a beautiful bright, white appearance.  Rhodium plating is an electroplating process which involves thoroughly cleaning the piece first (see the photo below of Matthew cleaning a diamond ring in electrolytic cleaning salts which allow the current to move them)


and then applying a layer of rhodium (which is the most expensive metal on the market) to the surface of the white gold by running a current through a solution. (We’ve included some diagrams below for more technical information).

Rhodium plating

If the jewellery is made of yellow and white gold, the yellow gold must be masked with nail varnish first, to avoid the yellow gold being coated by the rhodium.

Masking the yellow gold

So why does the gold need to re-plated? Because the plating applies only a layer rhodium, it wears off as the piece of jewellery is worn. The time it takes to wear off is dependent on how often the jewellery is worn and in what circumstances it’s worn. Plating will always wear off more quickly on rings, especially rings that rub against each other. It’s not harmful to have jewellery re-rhodium plated, and we have found every 12 months is a good time-frame. We offer this as a complimentary service at PIKE, to keep your jewellery looking stunning and it also gives us a chance to check your jewellery to make sure it’s safe and secure.

There are other methods of rhodium plating, including a newly-developed application pen. We choose this tried-and-true method as it complements the age-old hand-making manufacturing process that we love, as do most bespoke workshops around the world. We’d love to show you the process next time you’re at the workshop!

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/62eeb4870e384d072f0506f80/images/593c2bdf-faf2-43d2-85b0-dab0bc5004f7.jpg     Rhodium plating diagram1

Diagrams supplied by Palloys Group


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