ethical wedding rings, entirely hand forged and naturally
polished by Kerstin Laibach, are clearly distinquishable
from jewellery which depends on short-lived chemical
plating to artificially embellish appearance.
Based on Kerstin
Laibach's ethical principles and crafting practices she
does not plate her jewellery.
Plating / galvanizing
/ coating (most commonly gold or rhodium), is a short-lasting
micro-fine layer of precious metal alloy, partly used
to prevent tarnishing on silver and low carat golds, but
foremost for adding a more vivid depth of colour to jewellery.
Used extensively in the industry, it can simultaneously
cover up imperfections associated with cheap casting and
substandard work, while the "mesmerizing" finish entices
customers who may not be thinking of long-term appearances.
When plating wears off, a jewellery piece can look quite
different to the radiant item you originally bought -
especially on white gold and 14ct yellow gold.
natural finishing on her handmade work gives each collection
piece its own individual essence and lasting character.
WHAT IS THE
ETHICAL PROBLEM WITH PLATING?
Plating involves the use of cyanide or other toxic chemicals.
Although these can be neutralized, in practice there is
still a considerable negative environmental impact. As
it has no long-lasting value to the appearance of jewellery,
plating is essentially superfluous - and to produce and
use chemicals for such a purpose it surmounts to a pointless
and environmentally unfriendly industrial process.
Laibach: "Wedding and engagement rings are
life-lasting sentiments often worn on a daily basis. I
believe a quality piece of jewellery, when worn over years
should age with grace and therefore maintain a timeless
appeal. Plated wedding and engagement rings soon look
dull and unattractive as the thin finish wears off, eventually
looking nothing like the radiant item bought from the
jeweller a few months before. I compare plating of jewellery
to artificial flavourings and colourings."
When a customer comes to me who is dissatisfied with an
item they have bought from a jewellers with the plating
now half worn off, I will explain why and offer ways to
rework the piece so that it might look more appealing
in the long term."
"For ethical and craft quality reasons I never electroplate
my rings or any of my work and instead ensure that the
finish looks aesthetically pleasing as the result of an
entirely handmade work. I would never suggest plating
precious metal jewellery to customers, and have trouble
understanding why any jeweller would even recommend that
couples freshen up their rings by having them plated prior
to their special day. If a marrying couple had chosen
fine quality "natural" engagement and marriage rings to
begin with, all they might need is a simple clean, and
if scratched, a light polish.
Above all, the environment takes a battering each time
unnecessary plating is applied to jewellery - dipped into
a cocktail of hazardous chemicals."
"As an example, if my customers want rings in white
gold I encourage them to understand the pure natural look
of this precious metal. Natural white gold gives a slight
yellowish tinge, but many jewellers will rhodium plate
on white gold and silver, and their customers won't even
realise, or even be told by the jeweller that their rings
are plated.* Initially, plating makes the ring appear
radiant "white" but as soon as the rhodium finish starts
to wear off in places, the ring looks a patchy mess. Natural
white gold (and silver) can look wonderful without unnecessary
plating and will mature gracefully. This goes for all
colours of natural precious metals. So don't be fooled
by the superficial appearance of a 9ct gold ring in a
jewellery shop looking as radiant and intense as 24ct
gold. It only means it has been plated with a thin layer
of fine gold which will soon wear off. Plating can prevent
tarnish while it lasts, but if a piece is handmade perfectly
and looks attractive without any artificial embellishment
(plating) then you can rest assured that with the occassional
light cleaning, you'll be happy with the look and feel
of your wedding jewellery for years to come."
It is important to understand that having jewellery entirely
hand crafted without short-lived embellishments such as
plating, there are characteristics which you might notice
on the finished piece, such as a slight colour difference
at soldering points - depending on the precious metals.
If these joins are executed with fine care, they will
simply feel an essential and natural part of the crafting
and not as something undesirable. Hand-forging (never
casting) from raw recycled metals, Kerstin Laibach goes
a step further by carefully fusing her band rings so off-coloured
solder lines are not present.
The skill of a jewellery maker can be gauged by the standard
of joins and the general finishing. (Sparkling plating
can distract an unwitting eye from poor workmanship).
jewellery seller's justification that Rhodium plating
preserves gold pieces beyond their normal life-span is
erroneous. Such sales talk is contrived to support the
untarnished radiance which plated jewellery offers in
a shop display. Rhodium is much harder than gold, so in
comparison, a piece of solid rhodium metal may technically
last longer than a piece of solid gold over a time span
of a few thousand years. However, a microscopic layer
of rhodium plating on top of a solid gold ring will wear
off within a few short years - and often just months -
and as Kerstin Laibach explains, the effect is unappealing
with blotchy colouration areas appearing on the surface
as the real precious metal below the plating begins to
We remind you that a high-quality handmade Laibach ring
without plating is infinitely more appealing, both ethically
and characteristically in terms of its natural surface
appearance throughout the long-life of your ring.
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