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Can I rhodium plate a tungsten carbide ring?

(-----) 2007

Q. I recently bought a pair of wedding bands made of tungsten carbide from an online store because I was sold on the strength of the metal especially how hard and scratch-proof it is.

However, when it arrived, both my partner and I were rather disappointed at how dull and dark it looked even though the rings that we purchased states "highly polished". Placing it beside our white gold engagement ring, the tungsten ring looked almost like an industrial by-product. We both liked the rings to be a whitish silver but are unable to fork out extra dollars to get another set of platinum ring.

I wonder if there is a possibility that I could safely have my tungsten ring rhodium plated the same way that jewelers do it for white gold? Are there any important steps we need to take note of before and after the plating? Also, would plating affect the properties of the tungsten ring, for example, by making it less scratch resistant?

Thanks for all your advice in advance.

Mike Lee
consumer - Hong Kong


A. Tungsten carbide is extremely hard, so it will be quite difficult to polish (would require a couple of diamond paste grits) and would be a brighter shade of gray. I think that they are nice but certainly do not go with other jewelry. Carbide is difficult to plate, so not many jewelers are qualified to do it and it will be debatable on how well they do it. The finish nay not last as long as it would on gold as it will scratch vs. mar.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


A. Yes, TC is an industrial product. Not surprising it looks like such.

I'm not aware of a reliable procedure for plating on tungsten carbide, however it can usually be polished to a very high luster, a process which will require diamond paste or powder. If there's a good toolmaking machine shop near you, they may be equipped to do the job.

To some extent the best finish you can achieve will depend on the quality of the TC itself.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina

Ed. note: Those readers interested in further investigating plating onto tungsten carbide may be interested in the following threads:
Thread  0350, "How to electroplate onto Tungsten-Carbide"
Thread  0950, "Cleaning before plating Electroless Nickel on Tungsten-Carbide"
Thread 20001, "Hard Chrome Plating on Tungsten"

October 11, 2011

A. You can purchase white tungsten wedding bands. They are made to match white gold that is rhodium plated (white gold without the yellow cast). I have not purchased any samples but my supplier lists it as plated which I really don't like selling. While researching in local stores no one mentioned it being plated, but then they also said black was a solid color so what should I expect.

Jeff Jonson
- Austin, Texas, USA

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