April 27, 2021

What is Rhodium?

Rhodium is a rare and precious element that can be 10 to 25 times more expensive than gold. Rhodium is a member of the platinum group of metals and is silver-hued, highly reflective and does not tarnish or corrode.

Rhodium plating is used to enhance the luster and durability of metals such as silver and white gold and gives a smooth, shiny finish to the jewellery. 

Rhodium has been used as a coating for jewellery and silverware since the 1930s. It was also used as a plating for cigarette lighters and writing instruments during that time. One of the many companies that used rhodium plating was the Ronson Lighter Company, which produced many art-deco style items in the 30s.

Rhodium is a silvery-white, hard, and corrosion-resistant metal. It is very shiny and reflects up to 80 percent of light. Rhodium gives off one of the best sheens achievable, making it a very popular metal for jewellery. Rhodium is very rare as it is never found as a single mineral. Rather, it is cultivated in very small quantities within nickel and platinum ores. 

 

Should I Rhodium plate sterling silver?

Sterling silver is a white metal and does not need rhodium plating to acquire its colour. However, it tends to tarnish over time. To prevent this, rhodium plating silver jewellery will ensure that the piece is highly lustrous and remains tarnish-free for a long time.

Over time, as  the plating wears off, the white of the silver will come through, but will not be noticeable like gold. Those exposed sections may acquire some tarnish but this can easily be polished at home.

The lifespan of rhodium plating ultimately depends on wear and tear. For instance, just like other common jewellery metals, rhodium plating can wear down over time. It comes down to daily use and the thickness of the plating. However, certain items may need to be plated every year or so. This is especially common with rings that are worn daily.

 

Does my white gold need a rhodium plating?

Yes. All white gold, is essentially an alloy of pure (24ct) yellow gold, so it is natural to assume that it has a yellow tinge. The rhodium plating is a process which gives the white gold its ultra white colour by placing a coating over the existing metal.

 

While rhodium plating is beneficial for jewellery use, it can also require maintenance and re-plating over time.

 

Picture Courtesy of frankjewelers.com


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