Stephen Fortner is a goldsmith and manufacturer, based in Victoria, BC, Canada. He also works as a consultant for manufacturing in Thailand.
Rhodium plating is yet another jewelry manufacturing process that is incredibly toxic, and yet the public does not know. Stephen Fortner contacted me about this. He is on a campaign to educate the trade and public about the damaging elements of rhodium plating. I have published, with his permission, a short excerpt from an email he sent me which outlines the issue.
~ Marc Choyt, Publisher, fairjewelry.org.
At one time the color of white gold was not very good. It had a nickel content of around 10%. So…..along came Rhodium plating.
When Rhodium solution wears out (and gets weak) it more than likely, especially in the third world and here to a certain degree in North America, to get poured down the drain. This solution, with sulfuric acid, is nasty especially when it gets into the water table.
Sulfuric acid is a known cancer causing agent. Not only that, but the fumes are toxic. Generally, employees are given the best safety gear to protect themselves from the fumes.
I worked with this goldsmith from Hong Kong. His brother was still working making jewelery in Hong Kong.
I asked him, “What kind of work is your brother doing in Hong Kong?”
“Platinum,” he said.
“What kind of safety glasses does he use?” I asked.
He said back to me “Oh….no one wears safety glasses as it slows you down”.
I would believe that this is the same for work place ventilation in Asia. This rhodium plating should be banned now. There is no reason to use it anymore.
The new ultra white alloys that are out there. I use the Argen alloy in my own business
I have not made a piece of rhodium plated jewelery in four years.
I would like to start to educate the general public. There is no reason in the world to be still using the old white gold. The newer alloys (Argen) has a nickel content of 15% and is still soft enough to bead set into without snapping off beads.
I know, as I use it myself. The colour is not like rhodium, but it is white. I have never had one person tell me it is not white enough. Most of us that make higher end jewelery now use these ultra whites.
A certain percentage of my business now is remaking peoples engagement rings from the old white gold to the “new ulta whites”.
People say to me, “Why did they not tell me about this?”
To educate people, more, I have also started up on ‘Linkedin’ – “Increase your sales by selling environmentally manufactured jewelery” I have about 25 members. Some are Ben Bridge people.
Contact me if you would like to join up: firstname.lastname@example.org