Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Plating Creates Options

With the price of metal these days, I am always looking for more ways to create reasonably priced art jewelry. I looked into plating my designs as an affordable alternative to create a high-end look without the high cost. I decided to do a test exercise on several pieces trying out gold, fine silver, and rhodium plating.

The photos below show hammered cuffs in red brass before plating and after plating in 22kt gold. I requested a heavy plating for the cuffs.

Red brass cuffs before plating

Cuffs plated in 22kt gold, oxidized finish
I had several sterling silver pieces plated in fine silver to minimize tarnishing. Fine silver is .999 pure and has a lovely white finish.
Fine silver plating over sterling silver
The sterling silver rings below were plated in rhodium. Rhodium is in the platinum family and is often used over platinum, white gold or sterling silver. It is white, highly reflective, hard, and does not tarnish. Its hardness makes it great for finishing rings. Sterling silver scratches easily, but with a rhodium finish the surface is protected with a hard shell. I personally like the color of sterling silver and don't mind the scratches or light tarnish. I think this adds character to the jewelry. I'm not sure if I'll use rhodium for future rings, but I do have another option.

Plating can also be used as a design element to create a bi-metal look. An area can be masked to protect the metal prior to plating. The hammered cuffs above could have been plated in gold and silver, or for a more dramatic look, white and black rhodium.

The pendant on the left shows how a bi-metal look can be achieved using a plated bronze pod that is hinged to a sterling silver bezel set agate.

While plating may not be the solution for every project, it gives me options. I can create a signature look with rose or green gold or even black rhodium, add sophistication to copper or brass, or just prevent silver from tarnishing. I am blown away with the new options available to me with this process.

I love sharing what I've learned and hope you find this information helpful. Check out the yellow pages to find a plating company in your area.

To see my handcrafted artisan jewelry visit my etsy shop,


  1. Very informative Lisa- I would love to pick your brain a bit!

  2. Glad to share anything with you. I'll see you at your show next week. Hope its fantastic!

  3. Lisa, there is so much to see on your blog. I began exploring last Thursday and I have miles to go before I see every piece of jewelry you have to offer!

    I'm glad you are sharing new techniques you have learned and showing a finished piece of original design. I think your work is beautiful, well crafted, and very creative. A few favortie pieces are: Blue Lace Agate, Ocean Jasper, and dichronic glass pendants. What is dichronic glass?

    Thanks for a fun trip!

  4. Auntie, thanks so much for reading my blog. I have more blogs coming, but need to take photos. I'm hit and miss with getting good photos. So it takes me a while sometimes to get my blogs posted. Dichroic glass has metal oxides that give the glass optical properties. You see different colors when viewed from various angles. Gemstones are referred to as dichroic or trichoic meaning two or three colors are visible.