finishing.com -- The Home Page of the Finishing Industry
A website for Serious Education, promoting Aloha,
& the most FUN smiley you can have in metal finishing

HomeFAQsBooksHelpWantedAdvertiseForum
topic 10337

Remove rhodium plating from gold -- Is Rhodium plating reversible?


Q. I have recently been lucky enough to find a very expensive collectors wristwatch on sale for a very good price. Needless to say, I bought it even though it was cased in 18K yellow gold instead of platinum, which I would have preferred.

I am now considering having the case, crown and buckle (all solid 18K gold) rhodium plated, so as to get a similar look to the platinum case. As I am hesitant, my watchmaker has told me that rhodium plating is reversible, and that one can simply reverse the polarity on the bath and have the rhodium come off without attacking the 18K yellow gold underneath.

So at this stage I have a few questions (please bear with me):

Rhodium Plating System

1) Is rhodium plating indeed reversible? (By electrical means, not by mechanical ones such as polishing).

2) If it is, and if I decide to eventually take it off, will the yellow gold underneath be affected at all by the non-mechanical removal process?

3) Can the rhodium plating be applied without having to polish the case beforehand? As each polishing operation makes the edges less sharp, I would prefer to live with the few scratches the watch currently has rather than having to polish the case.

4) Would a rhodium plating applied directly over a gold surface with the regular tiny scratches given by regular wear look odd?

5) Given the difficulty of disassembling and reassembling a complicated wristwatch, what would be considered a sufficiently thick coating to ensure a decade or so of more or less regular wear (or is such a thing even possible, given the thickness which might be involved and the fact that a watch case does have to respect certain fine tolerances)?

Thank you very much for any light you can shed on this subject!

Bruno Rossi
- Paris, France


 

A. If your watchmaker has a formula for electro-stripping rhodium from 18K gold without harm to the gold surface I would be surprised and interested in knowing more about this formula. Maybe he can demonstrate this bit of magic on a piece of scrap gold? You are smart to be careful and I believe you will regret plating your fine gold watch.

Neil Bell
Red Sky Plating

supporting advertiser
Albuquerque, New Mexico
red sky banner ad


 

A. Hi Bruno,

Rhodium is not generally reversed by electrical means unless it is thin and has a nickel plating underneath it. The nickel layer can be attacked and the rhodium and nickel will separate from the main substrate. You can carefully remove the rhodium mechanically using sandpaper sticks of variable grit sizes. Rhodium plating should not be reapplied unless the surface is re-polished and cleaned. All contaminants must be removed. The electroplating process does not conceal scratches or surface blemishes. Rhodium plating in pore free thicknesses of 4-6 microns combined with a proper pre-plate over the white gold will last easily 6-10 years. Rhodium plating can be made very hard and scratch resistant. Plating a watch properly is time consuming but with the proper methods, a fine watch such as yours can be restored to a pleasing and durable finish. In general avoid jewelry stores, they are nice people, but rarely have the plating processes or methods for plating in the thicknesses you will need for your watch.

Good luck!

David Vinson
Metal Arts Specialties - Leonard, Michigan


 

David,

4 to 6 microns of rhodium seems unlikely from any conventional aqueous solution because of stress in the deposit. What kind of bath are you using and does the surface remain bright at this thickness?

Neil Bell
Red Sky Plating
Albuquerque, New Mexico


 

Hi Neil,

I meant a total of 2-4 microns total plated deposit including a preplate, of which about 1.5-2.0 microns is Rhodium. If the watch surface is a brush satin finish the rhodium can be made a little heavier. Thanks for the opportunity for clarification.

Best regards,

David Vinson
Metal Arts Specialties - Leonard, Michigan



  -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I have a 14K gold wedding band set, that is 9 years old. I have heard about Rhodium plating and am considering doing this with my set. Is this a good idea? I go to a very reputable jeweler and trust them fully. Is this reversible and will it do any damage to my wedding band set if I choose to Rhodium plate and then in a few years decide to go back to yellow gold? I really like the look of "platinum" or "white" gold, so wondered if the Rhodium plating is a good option or not?

Thanks!

Jodi Cole
homemaker - Bloomington, Illinois


May 24, 2011

A. Hi Jodi...
There is no harm in Rhodium plating the wedding band. There will be no loss when you are plating the bands as you will be adding metal to the surface of the bands. As for removing the plating a few years later you need not bother as the plating may itself wear off showing the original color yellow.
So go ahead, enjoy the white color. Regards,

Prakash Pai
- Mumbai, Maharashtra, India


Hi Jodi. I think this is a poor idea because rhodium plating is very thin and rings are very high wear items. The wedding set will not look good for long at all as the rhodium quickly wears off the bottom but only very slowly wears off the top. Don't do it.

Regards,

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



  -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I HAVE AN ANTIQUE DIAMOND RING THAT I BROUGHT TO MY JEWELER TO REPLACE A LOST STONE. THE JEWELER TOOK IT UPON HERSELF TO RHODIUM PLATE MY RING WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE AND NOW THE RING IS SO SHINY AND HAS LOST ALL ITS LOVELY PATINA THAT COMES WITH AGE. I TOLD HER THAT I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED BECAUSE THE RING NOW LOOKS NEW AND SHE SAID THAT IS WHAT THEY DO WHEN THEY REPAIR JEWELRY TO "BRIGHTEN IT UP". I HAVE HAD REPAIRS TO JEWELRY BEFORE AND NEVER HEARD OF THIS PRACTICE AND NEEDLESS TO SAY I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED.

IS THERE A WAY TO REMOVE THE RHODIUM PLATING - THE JEWELER SAYS "NO, BUT IT WILL WEAR AWAY IN TIME".

PLEASE RESPOND

THANKS

NANCY CATANIA
HOMEOWNER - NEE HOPE, Pennsylvania


January 27, 2008

A. A lead anode in conc. sulphuric acid will dissolve rhodium with little effect on the gold. I use this process regularly to eradicate cracking problems in the re melt of white golds.

Paul Anderson
manufacturing jeweler - Southport, Queensland, Australia


 

thumbs up signIntriguing, Paul. Are you sure you mean "anode" rather than "cathode"? Any additional details or clarifications would be great.

Regards,

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



To minimize searching and offer multiple viewpoints, we combined multiple threads into the dialog you're viewing. Please forgive any resultant repetition.



October 29, 2009 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I have a 14 kt yellow gold band that I had rhodium plated because most of my jewelry is now silver or white gold and I wanted it to match. Now I wish the ring were yellow colored again. Is there any way for me to remove the rhodium plating myself? Can a jeweler safely remove the rhodium? I considered soaking in Tarn-X but didn't know if that was okay or if it would do any good! ? I have a few things that I have left yellow gold but this is a particularly beautiful ring that I would like to have yellow gold again. Thanks for any suggestions!

Sandy Camacho
jewelry owner - Shawnee, Kansas


November 6, 2009 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Upon the suggestion of a jeweler, I had an 18 kt. yellow gold ring plated with rhodium.
It turned yellow quickly and I had it replated.
It is fading again and I can now see I made a mistake allowing it to be plated.
Is it possible to strip the plating and return the ring to yellow gold?

Lauren Rowe
Customer - Washington, DC


 

A. Hi, Sandy. Hi, Lauren.

You probably won't do it chemically but, as David Vinson noted, it may be possible to polish it off. If you have skill and experience in jewelry work you might do it yourself, otherwise it sounds better to rely on a jeweler. Good luck.

Regards,

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


January 19, 2010 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I had my engagement ring 18k gold plated in rhodium and it wears quite fast and was wondering if it's possible to get it restored back to the original 18k gold? Can you get the rhodium plating removed from a 18k gold ring?
Thanks,
Vanessa

Vanessa Piech
buyer - Johnson City, New York


February 22, 2011 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. A number of years ago I had several very nice yellow gold rings plated with rhodium so that they would match my wedding ring. I wish I had not done that because yellow gold is becoming popular again. Is there a way to take the rhodium plating off of these rings and earrings?

Jane Adams
Hobbyist - Granbury, Texas, USA


 

A. Hi, Vanessa. Hi, Jane.

Yes, but it's tedious because (as you will read above) it can't easily be done chemically; the jeweler has to polish away the rhodium. Good luck.

Regards,

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


May 15, 2011

Q. When I was employed at a major jewelry mfgr as a diamond setter, I asked the jewelers in the adjoining shop for help polishing three silver bangle bracelets. Unfortunately, they rhodium plated the silver, giving it a too hard, too bright finish. Can this be sanded off? Is there a chemical way to do it? Thank you

Paula Krauss
- Lords Valley, Pennsylvania


May 16, 2011

A. Hi, Paula.

Although your question is slightly different from the ones that proceeded it, because your bracelets are silver rather than gold, it's actually the same problem: you can't chemically remove rhodium because it's as resistant or more resistant to all chemicals.

Regards,

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


May 15, 2012 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I recently took my wedding set in to have the band repaired. When I dropped it off it was a very pale yellow gold. When I got it back it is bright white because they "re-dipped" it for me for free. Now they are offering to either redo it in yellow gold or leave it white. I specifically choose it for the pale yellow color.

I've read some of the other posts and saw that the only way to remove the plating is to polish it off. Does this affect the original finish of the ring? I really don't want it the bright yellow they are offering but if I choose this, will this plating wear off like the rhodium plating?

I appreciate your input on this.

Joy Jones
- Miami, Oklahoma USA


May 15, 2012

A. Hi Joy. Yes, it's my understanding that rhodium plating probably can't be chemically removed, but it's not a good idea for me to try to remotely micro-manage a jeweler from a thousand miles away :-)

You need to tell him what you want and let him work out the details. But I think you should tell him you'd prefer that the plating be removed rather than add yet another layer. It's only millionths of an inch thick and won't affect the ring if done properly.

Regards,

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


August 19, 2012

Q. Please help. I, as many others, thought it would be nice to have my baguette gold bracelet plated with rhodium. Many places are still gold. The jeweler says "well that is the best we can do." Can it be done? There are little places in the links that stay yellow and it has a yellow hue to it. It was beautiful and now ... I should not have done it. Can I redo it? Maybe find a "real" finisher?

Lori Slattery
- Mesa, Arizona USA



How to remove rhodium from 18 KT yellow Gold diamond jewelry?

March 1, 2015 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Please bear with us, lengthy question of course.

I have a lot of 18 KT yellow gold finished products, in which an option is requested by the client where the applied rhodium has to be removed from the surface. We tried removing the rhodium using white cloth buff, we were able to remove most of the rhodium, some small traces are left behind, further to that we couldnt remove the rhodium present underneath the diamonds.

We got the following suggestions:

1. To treat the product with Nitric acid of 1.2hg at 40 °C (104 °F)

2. or Treat the product with hot sulphur solution to remove the rhodium.

We know that nowhere this would workout, however we need your advice guys.

Prasanna Venkatesh
- Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu & India


February 2015

A. Hi Prasanna. David Vinson says above that if there is a layer of nickel plating between the gold and the rhodium, you may be able to attack it ... and I presume that is where hot strong nitric acid would be applicable.

Paul Anderson says the rhodium can be removed cathodically in concentrated sulphuric acid, but so far nobody has commented with additional detail.

Regards,

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


March 7, 2015

A. Dear sir,
You just boil your jewellery in concentrated sulphuric acid until all the rhodium gets dissolved in it. Please take safety [in mind] while boiling the Rhodium plated articles.

bhupesh mulik
- mumbai,india



September 1, 2016

Q. I have a 14k white gold engagement ring that my coworker said he was going to clean it for me. To my surprise I found that he was using a car wax on it. I stopped him but now I see a yellowish color to the band. Did this car wax remove the white in my ring? Or am i just seeing things? How can I get this fixed immediately?

Ana Venegas
- SUISUN CITY California U.S


September 2016

Hi Ana. It's only possible to make wild guesses with such limited info. But there's car wax and then there's 'car wax', which could range all the way up to an abrasive rubbing compound which might be able to reduce or remove the rhodium plating on your ring. Usually it's an inexpensive thing $25-50 to get it replated.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"



April 11, 2017

Q. Hi! This thread was really helpful. I have a gold vintage diamond band. The jeweler was adding some gold to thicken the base of the ring which had wore down from wear. He also plated or dipped the ring in gold.

It looks like a new ring and I hate it. The gold doesn't even look like the same shade. Is this reversible? And do you know anyone that can do this work for me? I am not a professional and would want someone with more experience to work on this.

Beth kleiner
- Chicago Illinois


April 2017

A. Hi Beth. "Gold coloring" or "Color gilding" is an art form that some people have spent a lifetime working on. So with zero experience in it myself, I don't want to minimize what is required for color matching ... but there are "codes" like 1N, 2N, and 4N describing the different colors. My gold plating book is out on loan, but I think you may be seeking what is called a "Hamilton gold color". Yes, it is probably possible to get your vintage band plated in a color that is more pleasing to you.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"


April 11, 2017

Q. Ted,

Thank you so much for the quick reply. I"m not sure I fully understand your response. The ring has been dipped. I am unclear on the color but I'd like to remove the dipped effect all together. I'm not sure if that is possible but it's made the ring thicker overall. Plus it has changed the look of the color.

Thanks again for your help.

Beth Kleiner [returning]
- Chicago Illinois


April 2017

A. Hi again. You previously said that the buildup was necessary because the ring had worn down. I am not a jeweler but I suspect s/he did not melt down and recast the whole ring, but that the build up was done with some sort of silver solder which is a different color than the gold of your ring and must be plated.

Only if the metal you want removed is a different metal than the metal which you want to retain, can chemical stripping be an answer: stripping chemicals cannot read minds and remove only what you don't want and leave in place all of what you do want :-)

But it may be possible to mechanically abrade (polish away) what you don't want. Again, short of melting and recasting the entire ring though, there was probably no way to build it up without changing the color such that replating was a necessary part of the repair process. So it's not a matter of avoiding plating, it's a matter of plating it in the color which you prefer.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"



This public forum has 60,000 threads. If you have a question in mind which seems off topic to this thread, you might prefer to Search the Site

ADD a Q or A to THIS thread START a NEW THREADView This Week's HOT TOPICS

Disclaimer: It's not possible to diagnose a finishing problem or the hazards of an operation via these pages. All information presented is for general reference and does not represent a professional opinion nor the policy of an author's employer. The internet is largely anonymous & unvetted; some names may be fictitious and some recommendations may be deliberately harmful.

  If you need a product/service, please check these Directories:

JobshopsCapital Equip. & Install'nChemicals & Consumables Consult'g, Train'g, SoftwareEnvironmental ComplianceTesting Svcs. & Devices


©1995-2017 finishing.com     -    Privacy Policy
How Google uses data when you visit this site.