If you are interested in white or gray/ silver jewelry, and you are going for the cheaper options of jewelry, you will come across numerous options, but you may have to settle on the platinum-plated jewelry.
Platinum, sterling silver, white gold, stainless steel, etc., all have a nice silver-white lustrous finish that makes the jewelry made of these materials quite desirable.
Unfortunately, the white metals that fall in the precious metals category are quite expensive, and you may not afford that 18k white gold ring or a platinum ring.
In such cases, platinum-plated pieces of jewelry might feel like the next best alternatives for you. But is the platinum-plated ring worth it? How long will the platinum plating look good?
Keep reading to learn all you need to know about platinum plated jewelry.
About platinum plating – What is it?
Platinum plating is the mechanical process that transfers the desirable qualities of platinum to other metals while making cheaper and less desirable metals look better than they really are.
Platinum is often used to plate different base metals, where it offers longevity and durability to the base metals while also enhancing the value of the plated metals. Essentially, platinum is highly resistant to corrosion even when exposed to harsh conditions, including very high temperatures; it can also withstand wear and tear from acids or water that it’s exposed to, and it also boasts an elegant finish.
Thanks to platinum plating, the plated pieces of jewelry will have different thicknesses of the plated layer, from just about 0.125 microns to about 25 microns.
It’s also important to know that platinum-plated jewelry could mean one of many things – in most cases, the platinum plating is applied over metals like copper, silver, or even gold.
What is the platinum plating process?
Platinum plating can be said to be the process through which different kinds of base metals are barrel or rack plated. During the electroplating process, electricity is used/ passed through an electrolyte solution, resulting in the deposit of platinum ions on the surface of the targeted base metal. The electroplating solution and how long the plating take will determine the thickness of the platinum layer.
Under rack plating, large or delicate pieces of jewelry to be plated are fixed to a rack before the process starts, or rather, before the submersion of the base metal into the platinum electroplating bath. Barrel plating, on the other hand, makes use of the barrel plating method, where you can plate large or small quantities of parts of the base metal in a barrel. Barrel plating, therefore, results in a more even coating of the base metal – the parts to be plated must be small enough to fit in the barrel; otherwise, the parts will be damaged as the barrel turns during the plating process.
Whether rack or barrel plating is used for electroplating, the negative charges that pass through the parts of the base metal must be connected to either the rack or through each other in the rack. The positive ions will be drawn to the platinum alloy, pulling the ions from the metal (donor piece), while the negative charges draw ions through the electrolyte solution onto the surface of the base metals. This ion exchange results in the coating of the base metal with platinum evenly.
It should be noted that in cases where the electroplating starts off with the non-metallic parts, then a process known as electroless nickel plating would have to be done first to create the right surface that will be able to hold the charge needed for electroplating.
How long does platinum plating last?
So, how long will the layer of platinum last after electroplating is done?
To answer this, an understanding of the durability of platinum is crucial.
Essentially, platinum is one of the highly sought-after precious metals worldwide, and this is thanks to the durability as well as the aesthetic appeal of platinum.
Platinum is one of the rare precious metals – it’s rarer than both silver and gold. It is also the metal that is used in the production of at least 20% of all the consumer products, where it’s used as an important component or as an important part of manufacturing. Platinum is also one of the metals in the platinum group of metals (PGMs). The rest of these metals are rhodium, Ruthenium, Osmium, palladium, and iridium, and the one thing that all these metals have in common is their durability. Platinum withstands high-temperature conditions, and it doesn’t get tarnished or corroded. It’s also quite strong, hence its use in protecting the less sturdy metals.
Given the properties of platinum, platinum-plated metals last a long time, and even with regular use, the layer of platinum will last for more than a few months. Though it will wear out eventually, a thicker layer of platinum and care of the plated jewelry would mean that the jewelry lasts for years before the platinum layer is to be replaced.
Does platinum plated jewelry turn your finger green?
Unfortunately, platinum-plated jewelry can tarnish, and it might turn your skin green. So, there is nothing like an unfinishable piece of platinum-plated jewelry.
The jewelry will tarnish; the question to ask is when not if. Note, however, that the rate of tarnishing would be quite low if the layer of platinum used is very thick.
In addition to staining your skin and the jewelry is looking ugly once the platinum layer starts to tarnish; the jewelry might also cause irritation of the skin after some time.
Does platinum-plated brass tarnish?
Yes. Once the layer of electroplated platinum starts to wear out, the base metal is exposed. In case the base metal for the plated jewelry is brass, the piece will tarnish even faster, and you may notice some dullness after some time.
The bright and warm golden color of brass is lost soon after the platinum layer is worn off.
And in as much as brass is quite strong and resistant to corrosion, this metal alloy will tarnish and dull over time.
How long the platinum plating on your jewelry lasts depends on the thickness of the platinum layer, how well it’s cared for, and if it’s exposed to an environment that would speed up the rate of tarnishing. A thin layer of platinum and wearing the platinum-plated jewelry in harsh environmental conditions would result in the loss of the platinum-plated layer in a few months.