PLATING 101: A STEP-BY-STEP TUTORIAL
Plating is an important part of your business. Doing it correctly is even more important. With modern alloys, how do jewelers achieve a really white color? The answer to that question is Rhodium Plating.
A quality rhodium plated finish should be standard procedure on all white gold mountings but this leads to another frequently asked question, how do I get a good rhodium plated finish? To answer that question let's begin with the basic principles. First and foremost the piece needs to be polished to a bright finish. And if the piece is not clean, it will not plate!
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU START
Polish the piece to a brillant, high finish.
Clean thoroughly in an ultrasonic cleaner.
Rinse in distilled water because tap water contains minerals that will contaminate your plating solution.
Beaker #2 – Fill with distilled water for rinsing.
Beaker #4 – Fill with distilled water for rinsing.
Beaker #5 – Fill with plating solution, and keep at 98˚F with 2 volts of power for 30 – 60 seconds. Negative lead should be attached to the mounting, and the positive should be attached to platinized titanium anode.
Beaker #6 – Fill with distilled water for rinsing.
Steam dry, wipe with soft cloth.
Simple enough, right? Well, what if it doesn't go as smoothly as planned and you end up with black plating, dark spots, or a frosty-looking finish?
HERE ARE SOME TIPS THAT MAY HELP:
Use a gold hook to suspend the piece from an alligator clip for plating. Never use copper in rhodium because it will contaiminate your rhodium.
Keep your plating bath covered when it's not in use.
Replace water, which has evaporated from your bath, with distilled water to the original level.
If you're getting black plating: Check that your mounting is clean; be sure to use an electro cleaner or activator; check that you're voltage isn't too high; replace your rhodium solution because it may be contaminated.
Dark spots are usually caused by pieces not being thoroughly cleaned. Though you can usually remove them using a soft, buff wheel with red rouge and light pressure, it's best to clean the pieces first and avoid the spots instead.
Frosty rhodium is usually the result of high voltage.
Now you're on your way to achieving a great finish with your rhodium plating. But, if you're still not getting the results, you want, just give us a call, email, or live chat with us. We're here to help.
As always, if you need help with tools or questions about metals or soldering, contact Stuller’s Tools Tech Team. Give them a call at 1-800-877-7777 ext. 4300