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Can Rhodium plating be used over a variety of unknown jewelry metals?

October 14, 2012

Q. I have a small vintage jewelry business that I run out of my home. I recycle vintage jewelry by taking old pieces apart and putting new creations back together. Lately, I have had requests to make bridal pieces; however, the brides would like a different look. They would like a brighter, newer silver white finish to the vintage pieces. I've surmised that a Rhodium plating would probably be a good choice to re-finish these pieces. So my question is; can Rhodium replating be used on costume jewelry of which the substrate is unknown? I imagine some of these pieces are copper and brass, or some non-precious metal base.

Thank you for your time.

Katherine El Toboso
Designer - Walnut Creek, California, USA

October 15, 2012

A. Hi Katherine. I'm not a jeweler, but I think the main issue would be that rhodium is usually very thin, both due to very high material cost and technical limitations in plating with this stressed and brittle metal. It will be very difficult to get an inexpensive but durable rhodium plating directly on a non-white metal.

I think your standard ought to be to plate with some other white metal first: silver, white bronze, or nickel (nickel is problematic due to widespread nickel allergy, and can't be exported to Europe).


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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