How often will my white gold ring need to be rhodium plated?

What is rhodium plating?
Does white gold discolor or turn yellow over time?
Are all white gold rings rhodium plated?
How much does it cost to rhodium plate a ring?
How long does rhodium plating last?

With the recent popularity of white metals, we are asked similar questions more and more frequently. The answers depends on several factors that I will explain below.

Our current cost as of December 2015 for rhodium plating starts at $53 per piece. This includes cleaning and polishing. To have Knox rhodium plate your jewelry, contact us here.

Rhodium plating or “dipping” is the standard in our industry to make white gold items white.  Nearly all white gold jewelry sold in the U.S. market is rhodium plated.  All 14k and 18k white golds are alloyed with other white metals to achieve a white look. Given that both of these alloys are predominantly pure yellow gold (14k is 58.5% pure and 18k is 75% pure), the resulting color isn’t absolutely white like platinum. In order to provide a beautiful bleached white color, white gold is plated with a platinum group metal called rhodium. This rhodium plating is a non-permanent metal deposition process that can be done while you wait at most jewelry stores.

The actual layer or coat of rhodium, which is applied in an electroplating process, is microscopic (maybe a few microns thick) and will eventually wear off. Body chemistry, excessive sweat, occupational and lifestyle wear, and chlorine can all shorten the life of rhodium plating. A new rhodium plating should last six months to a year on a ring until the plating will be noticeably diminished. The yellowing of the bottom of the ring is usually the first noticeable sign that your rhodium plating is wearing thin. Areas with diamonds, filigree, or engraving will retain the rhodium finish longer as these areas receive less wear. Also, rings with large polished areas will make the inevitable wearing away of the rhodium finish more noticeable. Rhodium plating on pendants and earrings will last much longer as they aren’t exposed to as much wear and tear or skin oils.

To properly rhodium plate an item, the item should first be polished and then thoroughly cleaned via an ultrasonic bath and a distilled water steaming. It is paramount that it is absolutely free of any dirt, oil, and polishing compound before it is plated. After this cleaning, the item should also go through an electro-cleaning process. This final step will help ensure proper rhodium adhesion as the heated cleaning solution is activated by electricity. If there are yellow or rose gold elements in the jewelry, they will need to be masked with a non-permeable substance (fingernail polish is popular) so those areas are not plated white.

Like anything else, results will vary, especially if shortcuts are taken. If fewer of the above described cleaning steps are used in the process, the rhodium finish could prematurely wear off.

In the last few years rhodium plating has become a more expensive service to provide as rhodium prices have sky-rocketed to $6000.00 per ounce. Expect to pay between $25.00 to $60.00 for a complete polishing, cleaning, and Rhodium plating of a ring. Two tone designs may be more due to the necessity of masking the areas that are not to be plated.

Conflict Diamonds, another part of the story.

  1. An estimated 5 million people have access to appropriate healthcare globally thanks to revenues from diamonds.
  2. Conflict diamonds have been reduced from approximately 4% to considerably less than 1% since the implementation of the Kimberley Process in 2003.
  3. An estimated 10 million people globally are directly or indirectly supported by the diamond industry
  4. The diamond mining industry generates over 40% of Namibia’s annual export earnings
  5. Diamond revenues enable every child in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13.
  6. In July 2000, the global diamond industry announced its zero-tolerance policy towards conflict diamonds and continues to drive this policy.
  7. Sierra Leone is now at peace and exported approximately $142 million diamonds in 2005
  8. Approximately one million people are employed by the diamond industry in India.
  9. Approximately $8.4 billion worth of diamonds a year come from African countries.
  10. More than 99% of diamonds are now from conflict free sources and traded under the UN-mandated Kimberley Process.
  11. The Diamond Development Initiative was established to improve the working conditions of artisanal miners.
  12. The revenue from diamonds is instrumental in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
  13. Under the Kimberley Process, rough diamonds can only be exported and imported when accompanied by a certificate from the exporting country.
  14. The charity Jewelers for Children funds a community based care program for orphaned children in South Africa.
  15. An estimated 65% of the world’s diamonds come from African countries.
  16. Today, 71 governments and the legitimate diamond industry are all committed and legally bound to eradicating conflict diamonds.
  17. The diamond industry has introduced a system to help give greater assurances to retailers and to provide consumers with the reassurance that their diamond is from a conflict free source.
  18. Diamonds account for 33% of the GDP (approximately $3 billion) of Botswana. Since diamonds were discovered in Botswana, GDP annual growth rate has averaged 7%.
  19. Major world leaders – including Nelson Mandela – have cited the importance of diamonds to the lives of African people.
  20. It is estimated that one million people work in the informal (astisanal) alluvial diamond digging sector.
  21. Some diamond producing countries are not Kimberley Process compliant.
  22. In November, 2006, 71 Governments, leading NGOs, and the World Diamond Council agreed on measures to further strengthen the Kimberley Process.
  23. At the 2006 Kimberley Process Plenary, the industry committed funds and resources to address challenges faced by countries with a high prevalence of artisanal alluvial mining.

Cool Diamond Pics

There really is something almost magical about looking into a diamond, so I thought that I would start a collection of interesting photos.

It is very difficult to capture the beauty of a diamond in a photograph, but like other examples of natural beauty, such as a photo of a beautiful sunset or a scenic panorama, a photo that captures the essence of a sparkling diamond can also be a work of art.

Here is a photo of a .19 carat fancy intense pink diamond we sold earlier this year. Diamonds

Raw Diamond Crystals

Here are four very interesting photos of raw diamond crystals. These raw diamond crystals are the exact form that diamonds are found in nature. Note the varying body color of the diamond crystals. Most diamonds found in nature will have some tint of color, the yellow tints and brown tints are the most common. A diamond crystal without a tint of yellow or brown is very rare and desirable, these diamonds are given the top three grades of D-E-F or colorless.
It is even more rare to find fancy colors such as the fancy intense pink diamond shown in the last article.

Photos courtesy of International School of Gemology

Attachment@id=133156338 Diamonds

Attachment@id=133156339 Diamonds

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twinned%20diamond%20octahedral Diamonds

More Pictures to come…

What is CAD-CAM?

CAD = computer aided design

CAM = computer aided manufacturing

CAD software allows designers to build a design in the exact three dimensional (3-D) geometry and dimensions desired. The beauty of using this software for customers is being able to see exactly how a proposed custom design will look before any ring is cast in the metal or before any stones are set in the metal. The software we use (Matrix by Gemvision) can generate photo-like renderings of jewelry items from every potential angle and can even be used to make a moving video of a jewelry design.

Once the design is completed in the software there are several methods to use CAM to produce an exact 3-D model from various medias than can then be directly casted into precious metal.

The technology is a perfect fit for the jewelry industry as the models made by the various CAM methods provide a much higher level of precision and symmetry than all but the very top level wax carvers (artisans that carve wax models for casting by hand)

Also, the cost for these CAM models are often quite less than having comparable models made by hand.

Nearly all of the big manufacturers and designers are using the technology and it would appear that is just a matter of time until it truly dominates the industry.

Here is a quick explanation of a couple CAM methods:

A common method used to create wax models is a CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) Milling System. This machine receives the model’s geometry information and drills out each and every detail. This system is very precise and accurate and the wax models milled can be directly cast into metal.

wax4 Jewelry

revo540_modelB Jewelry

Another method used is a 3-D Grower. This CAM technology prints ultra-small layers of resin on top of one another until the model is finished. A laser follows the printing of each layer to harden the resin. The result is a very accurately detailed piece. These models can also be directly cast into metal.

viper Jewelry

resin2 Jewelry