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Rhodium-plating platinum rings

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Q. Is there any reason to rhodium plate a platinum ring? My husband recently bought me a platinum ring and the jeweler suggested he have it rhodium plated, which he did. However, I was under the impression that rhodium plating is done to make gold look like platinum. If the ring is already platinum, what would be the point?

Alison MacArthur
- San Diego, California, USA


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A. Hi Alison. Rhodium plating is very hard and very bright--significantly more so than platinum. If you want bling, where you can't tell the metal from the diamonds from 3 foot away, that's what rhodium plating does. If that's not the look you're going for, rhodium plating isn't the answer.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


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A. Hi, Rhodium plating is used to brighten white gold and in some cases platinum to make it appear shinier and brighter to the casual observer. Both white gold and platinum reflect about 60-65% of the light versus 75-80% for rhodium. That may not sound like much, but visually platinum appears grayer when compared to rhodium, which to some resembles bright chrome plating in appearance. Beyond aesthetic judgments, the only caution is that rhodium plating will periodically need to be replated. The frequency will depend on the initial thickness of the rhodium plating and the wear habits of the owner. For wedding sets worn every day this is a big deal! Exposure to household chemicals, golf clubs, as well as skin oils will take their toll on any plated item. Additionally, with rare exception, the quality and durability of "jewelry store" rhodium plating is not very durable and unfortunately, has disappointed countless numbers of jewelry owners. Personally, I view the plating of platinum with rhodium much like I would if someone were to paint my expensive oak woodwork thereby concealing its beauty and character. Hope this helps clarify some of your questions.

David Vinson
Metal Arts Specialties

Leonard, Michigan



appended

Q. I own a platinum ring and am continually disappointed after buffing that it scratches again so quickly. I understand (from the master jeweler for the merchant) that platinum can be rhodium plated. Is this true? Is it advisable? Why or why not? What solution and dipping during should be used to get the recommended finish? Other information/comments are welcome! Thanks for the professional advice.

Brenda Lortie
jewelry owner - Shoreview, Minnesota

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Ed. note: Hi, Brenda. As you see, we appended your inquiry to a thread that probably answers your questions. But get back to us if you have more.



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Q. My fiance and I are currently looking for wedding bands. I have a platinum engagement ring, but 4 years later it's in terrible shape. I understand rings get dull, but is has scratches and very small dents all over. I had it polished once, removing most of the scratches, but the band was thinned out in the process and I worry that if it is done a time or two more I will need to have additional metal added. Is this typical?

We have already chosen a titanium band for my fiance because I have read the metal is more resistant to the scratching that my engagement ring has. Not to mention the cost is significantly less.

I am considering getting a new wedding ring set all together in titanium. I know the value isn't as high, but if it wears better, it makes sense to me.

My question in all this is whether or not all platinum will wear this badly, or if I just got suckered into an expensive ring with poor metal quality?

Titanium Wedding Rings

Summer Peake
wedding ring shopper - Holt, Michigan


Hi, Summer. I am not a jeweler and can't answer the question of whether there is a different alloy of platinum that is harder and holds a polish better. But I can say that platinum has a very high intrinsic value, so I would not be concerned about "poor metal quality" affecting its value.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

June 13, 2009

Q. About 4 years ago my husband and I were looking to buy my engagement ring and wedding band. I wanted something custom made. We had nothing but trouble with my engagement ring. We ordered it in platinum and had certified diamonds put in the setting so first they only did the center stone certified which obviously then there was a huge color and clarity difference with the center stone and the 2 side stones. So we sent it back to get certified diamonds for all of it. Then they used white gold to solder the head of the setting back in place. Not sure why they took the head off to begin with but whatever. Took us two separate times to get that problem fixed. So we got that all taken care of.

Then we custom ordered my husband's wedding band and my wedding band. Both were supposed to be platinum. A few months ago my wedding band started turning yellow. I knew platinum doesn't turn yellow but white gold does and that's why we didn't get white gold. So I thought omg they gave me a white gold ring. I was livid. My husband took it back today and they swear to us that it is platinum but that they coated it with rhodium (I think that's what its called) and that when it wears off it turns yellow.

Is that BS because I think it is. If that stuff is just a coating over the platinum then why doesn't it just look like platinum when it wears off? Plus if it is already platinum why do you need to put a silvery coating over something that is already silver? Seems stupid to me. I have never heard of this before and we asked them why my engagement ring hasn't turned yellow and they said they only use that coating on custom settings and my engagement ring setting wasn't custom. My husband's was however and his isn't yellowing. What's going on? Can anyone give me any info on this? Thanks!

Tonya Bdeleted
Tampa, Florida


July 3, 2009

A. Hi, Tonya. Sorry for your troubles. When you say "yellow", though, are you sure you really mean yellow rather than dull or not mirror-like? Platinum looks much like silver, it's a soft color. In days gone by rings were not rhodium plated, today they often are because rhodium is so glitteringly sparkling white that it almost looks like diamonds itself -- and that is how today's taste seems to run.

I can't tell from here whether you have white gold rings or platinum, but if they are white gold that would be fraud since platinum is probably 3x as expensive. But it seems that all of the rings were rhodium plated and some of them need replating.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

January 29, 2010

Q. Hi. I got engaged last spring and I received my Grandmother's engagement ring that is from the 1930's. It is a platinum ring. In choosing a wedding band, I noticed it is yellowed and doesn't match any wedding band that I pick. I was advised by the jeweler to do rhodium plating. I don't mind doing it, but I was wondering if that is a good choice. I do not want to do anything to damage it, or take away its value or worth. And I was wondering if this is an expensive procedure also.

Jennifer Hamburg
teacher - Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, USA


June 27, 2010

A. Hi, Jennifer. The other rings you are looking at are probably rhodium plated, and the jeweler is suggesting you have your grandmother's ring plated to match. Rhodium is a precious metal even more costly than platinum, so there is nothing wrong with the idea from an aesthetic, economic, or functional viewpoint. The issues are whether it will spoil your appreciation of an antique, and the fact that you will have to have it periodically replated because the rhodium plating is very thin.

It is difficult to remove if you change your mind because there is no acid that will attack rhodium and not platinum, so you would have to have it polished off.

Rhodium plating is not expensive, probably well under $100 for jewelry store quality, maybe a bit more to have it done by a quality plating shop.

An alternative, probably a better one, would be to get an unplated platinum wedding band and have the jeweler polish your grandmother's ring to match. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

February 23, 2011

A. I have been making jewelry for well over 30 years. In my experience platinum goes grayer, not brighter when immersed in a rhodium plating solution. This can actually cause the set diamonds to pick up a grey tinge as well being set into the prongs which become grey from the solution. In a small shop such as mine a rhodium solution can last 15 years and I am only on my second bottle so I haven't tried every formula under the sun but I have had nothing but damage from plating platinum. It can be buffed up but the plating gets into the crevices like under the prongs and can't be removed. Rhodium is insignificant in terms of adding "hardness" to the pieces as it is only a couple molecules thick on the surface and invariably wears of in six months on any exposed surfaces. In fact I usually try to avoid the stuff because people just get disappointed when the stuff wears off six months later. For white gold though it actually preserves the prongs by blocking out chlorine from the water which causes the white gold to become brittle and break off at the prong tip. When rhodium is replated it leaves a "shadow" where the old plating was and the new is applied. It actually gets darker replating, The first time is the charm. If you do some work like sizing done on a plated ring you may see a shadow mark where they replate it.

James Roettger
- Minneapolis, Minnesota

May 17, 2013

Q. I have a 14k white gold wedding set that has been rhodium plated many times (which I expected). In the past year,my finger has started burning and itching when I wear my ring. I do not have the problem with any other rings or jewelry. I can wear cheap rings and jewelry and very expensive without problems. I don't have any allergies to nickel or such. That was probably also the last time it was plated. Was there something in the plating? I always take it to the same place (jewelry store). I was wondering if I should have it platinum plated next time around. Thanks.

Maya Jonsson
- havre, Montana, USA


May 17, 2013

A. Hi Maya. Please see letter 33777, "Boiling Rings in Peroxide and Vinegar Stops Rash". Dozens of women reported complete relief.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 10, 2013

Q. Hi, I recently purchased an engagement ring and I went to have it resized (down). Now the ring is platinum, way heavier than gold, and it has PLAT on the inside of the band....however after we have received the resized version back and now there is a yellowish tint on the head where the diamond is set, if you look on the inside of the band, you can tell that the head was a separate piece molded on because you can see where they melted it together, platinum should not turn yellow, so I have a feeling that they used white Gold for the head which is making me quite heated because I paid for platinum, are jewelers known to do that?

Tom Pdeleted
- Anoka, Minnesota, USA


November 21, 2014

! Simply buy tungsten rings, and they last a lifetime.

Chas Bradley
- Houston, Texas


December 2014

If you like the look and are not bothered by the lack of intrinsic value, it's all good. But ...

"There's no accounting for taste" -- proverb.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey



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