What is Rhodium?
Rhodium is one of the rarest elements on earth and its abbreviation is Rh. Rhodium can only be found in platinum ores in North America and South Africa. Being one of the rarest and most valuable preciou metals, rhodium is silvery white and hard. Because of its resistance to corrosion and oxidization, rhodium is often used to plate on white gold to give it a shiny silvery white color. Modern jewelers also plate sterling silver with rhodium for anti-tarnishing purpose. Because the layer of rhodium plated to white gold jewelry or silver jewelry is thin, so the color may be worn out. However, it can be re-plated with rhodium to restore the shiny silver white color.
Rhodium is so great at color and hardness, then why jewelers do not use rhodium to make jewelries directly? Because rhodium has a high melting point and its malleability is poor, it is very difficult to make jewelry items with pure rhodium. Moreover, rhodium is very expensive and its price is about 8 times of the gold.
How long will the rhodium plating last?
Many customers have this question when buying a white gold ring or necklace. But the answer isn't easy. It depends on whether the jewelry items is a necklace, ring, earrings, bracelet or even pin. Necklaces and rings touch skin every day, the plating can be worn in years. But pin does not contact frequently and the lasting will endure for a long time. Also, it depends on whether you wear the jewelry constantly. The jewelry items' rhodium plating depends on the contact with your body chemistry as well as the following two factors.
The quality of the Rhodium plating:
Good quality plating done by a good jeweler shop will last far longer than the thin layer of plating. You should check with the jeweler about the rhodium plating layer, thus picking a noted jewelry site or brand is very important in this case. Another method is to check the color of the jewelry piece, thick rhodium layer jewelry items look very shiny with silvery white color.
Rhodium Plated White Gold
The color of the underlying gold:
The rhodium plating layer lasts long if the underlying gold is white gold because they have the similar color. But it may require more frequent replating if the underlying gold is yellowish. So, always try to make sure that the white gold jewelry piece you are buying has good shade of white before it is plated with rhodium. And if your jewelry store can not re-plate rhodium for the jewelry piece, you can try to find another jeweler who can do that for you. There are many jewelry sites do rhodium plating online.