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"Protect mother of pearl for gold or rhodium plating?"

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Current question:

November 17, 2021

Q. Hello,

I know it is old subject, but what can I use as a clear coat to protect mother of pearl when gold plating?

Best regards,


Milka Danilovic
Jeweler - Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Closely related Q&A's, oldest first:

August 30, 2009

Q. I have a pair of medical insignia mother of pearl cufflinks on which the edges and the insignia are made from yellow gold. I am not much of a yellow gold fan personally and I am getting married in Oct and my wedding band and hers are white gold. Now I have read and understand that if you plate rhodium over yellow gold rings that bc they are high wear items they frequently start having discoloration spots soon after. I was wanting to have these cufflinks plated with rhodium and since they are not high wear items not to concerned about discoloration. But I was wondering if the electroplating process might effect the mother of pearl of which they are set? Has anyone run across this problem?

Daniel O'Barr
hobbyist - Charleston, SC, USA

simultaneous September 2, 2009

A. It is wise of you to wonder about this because mother of pearl will be attacked by the chemistry and become frosty. It's also possible these cufflinks are set with plastic in which case they should survive the processing just fine.

Neil Bell
Red Sky Plating
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Albuquerque, New Mexico
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September 2, 2009

A. Daniel,
Looking at the photo I have to ask if the insignia itself has a metallic connection through to the back of the cufflink? If not, it will be hard to plate. You need continuity with all areas to be plated. You could consider pen plating. I had a customer years ago who was able to plate Rhodium with mother of pearl submerged in the bath. He did use air sparged rinsing though. As long as there is no solution entrapment you will be fine. Good Luck!

Mark Baker
Fellow Plater - Syracuse, NY USA

September 3, 2009

A. Most rhodium baths are acid- during plating process mother of pearl must be protected with good protective clearcoat(after plating clearcoat must be removed!).Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb,Croatia

"Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques"
by Anastasia Young
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September 6, 2009

A. Of course any responsible jeweler would remove the pearl and setting before having the item plated.
Every time I've sent a pendant, ring, or something with a stone out to be plated I've removed the stone and sent JUST what I wanted plated.

Marc Banks
Blacksmith - Boone, North Carolina

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