Rhodium Plated Jewellery - Is Rhodium Plating A Good Or Bad Idea?
If you own white-metal jewellery, such as platinum, white gold or even silver, you’ve likely been advised to have the items rhodium-plated. Rhodium is a silvery-white transition metal and holds the distinction of being the world's most expensive precious metal. Another part of rhodium's appeal comes from its high reflectance, almost unique among the metals. It is sometimes used as an expensive and flashy alternative to silver in jewellery, on which it is sometimes plated. Some of the most expensive consumer items in the world are made from rhodium. But, how does coating your white-metal jewellery fare in the long run? Is it protecting your investment, or is it a way for jewellers to make a quick buck? We discuss.
What is Rhodium Plating on Jewellery?
In its natural, solid state, Rhodium is far too hard to work, but it is used as an alloy in the smelting of platinum and palladium.
Rhodium plating is a metal deposition process used to coat materials with a decorative and protective layer of rhodium. Rhodium is a noble metal that imparts an extremely bright and hard wearing finish when applied as plating. When applied as a thin plate, it affords a durable finish of exceptional brightness. Rhodium finishes can greatly enhance the appearance and longevity of any metal to which they are applied.
When it comes to white gold, rhodium plating is almost mandatory if you plan on keeping your pieces in good nick. 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. This plating may dull over time, so having it re-applied at regular intervals will not only prevent scratches to your jewellery, but it will preserve the shine it held when you first purchased it.
If you have concerns over the effect rhodium applications may have on the stones of your rings, allow us to quell your fears. The process of rhodium plating requires a current to run through the metal. The rhodium then binds to the elements in the piece which conduct the current, causing the plating to take effect. Because diamonds and gemstones don’t conduct electricity, they will be safe from the plating!
Rhodium plating myths also include the notion that only white-metal jewellery can or should be plated; however, yellow-gold and rose gold are invited to the party, too! Any metal that conducts a current is able to be plated. Bear in mind that if your yellow gold is brilliantly yellow, you may find it only takes about 6 months for the gold colour to show through at the back of your ring.
Rhodium Plated Jewellery Maintenance
Having rhodium applied does not mean your maintenance of your pieces stops there. To ensure rhodium plated jewellery lasts as long as possible, follow these handy tips:
Keep it clean with a mixture of mild liquid shampoo and a bit of warm water.
Never use any chemical cleaners on rhodium plated items, or ultrasonic cleaners that utilize chemicals.
Do not use polishing cloths intended for use on gold or silver jewellery, and ensure pieces are not in regular contact with hard surfaces. Non-abrasive, lint free, streak free, micro-fibre cloths are ideal.
Let all makeup and perfume dry before putting on jewellery. Wash any make up off jewellery with water and store in a protective box to avoid damage and wear when not worn.
Remember that carefully-maintained rhodium plated jewellery will keep its fantastic, highly reflective white finish and you can enjoy its beauty for years.