When you buy a Jewelry, you always come across this term “Rhodium Plating”. So what is rhodium plating? More importantly, why rhodium plating? In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about rhodium plating.
What Is Rhodium?
Rhodium is a precious metal similar to gold, silver, or platinum but only much more expensive! In fact, it is the most expensive of all the precious metals.
Wow! Mind blown!
How is it possible? Well, because it is extremely rare in nature, it is only found as a by-product of mining for other precious metals, such as platinum. This, makes the price of rhodium very volatile as its availability is connected to platinum supply and demand.
More about Rhodium can be found in this in-depth article Here.
Since it is such a precious metal why have we seldom heard of a solid rhodium jewelry?
Why Don't We Make Solid Rhodium Jewelry?
The reason is simple; the price of rhodium is very volatile and has huge ups and downs. To illustrate how extreme the price can become, rhodium can sometimes skyrocket to ten times the price of gold to $10,025 just before the 2008 financial crisis.
Other times, rhodium prices skydives down to the price of gold or platinum to around $1000 per ounce in early year 2017.
Today on 12 September 2018, Rhodium is priced at USD $2,175.00 Per ounce and Gold is priced at USD $1,196.59 Per ounce according to BusinessInsider.com.
Rhodium is cost almost twice the price of Gold today.
Because of the high vitality phenomenal, rhodium is not the most stable of investments. Gold is still kept as the "Gold standard" for precious metals due to its low volatility in price in compare to other precious metals.
Another reason why rhodium is usually used in plating but not as a solid rhodium jewelry is because, when pure, it is brittle and not very malleable thus it is very challenging to be crafted into fine jewelry.
Why Is Rhodium Such an Amazing Precious Metal?
Rhodium is commonly used to hide imperfections and bring forth a greater brilliance to silver or white gold pieces. Being both resistance to corrosion and harder than both silver and gold, rhodium plated jewelry will have an excellent protective coat that shields jewelry from scratches and retains its shine.
While rhodium is both too expensive and too brittle to make jewelry out of, it is always the precious metal of choice as a plating material for other fine jewelry.
One of its greatest advantages of rhodium plated jewelry is that it doesn’t tarnish and requires no particular cleaning procedures making life easier for the jewelry lovers.
As a Bonus, Rhodium plated jewelry protects the wearer who are allergic to silver.
You can finally say goodbyes to the rashes caused by metal allergy.
When Will Rhodium Plating Not a Good Idea?
So far, rhodium plating sounds great, a savior to every problem! Why not just rhodium plate on everything? Wouldn’t it make any piece of fine jewelry infinitely better?
Well for every hero there is always a weakness. There are some cases when rhodium plating just doesn’t work.
As rhodium is extremely expensive only a very thin layer of rhodium is used in plating procedures. Over the years, this layer of rhodium will eventually come off, making re-plating a necessity. When it comes to pieces like rings or necklaces which come in close contact with the skin, the rubbing causes the plating to come off more quickly. This leads to a need for a thicker layer of plating, which, in turn, changes the color of the jewelry piece.
As Rhodium itself it brilliant silvery-white, it is not suitable for yellow gold which is yellow in nature or vintage silver.
While rhodium plating is the star of the platinum family and works great to further brings the shine to diamonds and cubic zirconia, different lines of products require different finishes.
Caution have to be taken that rhodium plated jewelry should never be cleaned with any chemicals or detergent
As the rhodium plating is always very thin, it will rub off the protective layer and expose the metal within to be tarnished.
How to Clean Rhodium Plated Jewelry?
If you ever want to wash or clean your jewelry, simply follow the 3 simple steps below
- Prepared a bowl of warm distilled water (Approx 45 degrees Celsius, NOT boiling water)
- Submerge your Rhodium Plated Jewelry pieces into the water for 15 minutes.
- Wipe dry gently your Rhodium Plated Jewelry with a clean microfiber cloth.
Bling Bling, your rhodium plated jewelry is shine again
Caution: Never do the following
- Never use a polishing cloth to "polish" your jewelry, you will damage the Rhodium plating or scratch the jewelry.
- Never use any kind of chemicals on your Rhodium Plated Jewelry or any kind of Jewelry.
Note: Any chemicals will damage your Jewelry and lead to tarnishing of the jewelry.