Ever wondered how naturally yellow gold can become white gold? The color that you see on white gold is actually from the rhodium plating. It’s important to know this when you buy jewelry metals. However, if you’ve heard of rhodium plating before but still aren’t completely sure on what it exactly means, read this article. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about rhodium plating.

What Is Rhodium?

Rhodium is a precious metal with a silver or white tone. It is a byproduct from the mining of other metals like platinum.

Rhodium is a noble metal, also called an inert metal. This means that rhodium does not oxidize or corrode. In layman’s terms, simply being in contact with air or water will not create wear and tear to this metal. Impressive right?

Rhodium’s durability is the reason why jewelry, especially wedding bands, will have rhodium plating. It protects the piece from Mother nature’s elements.

Rhodium plating is also called rhodium dip or rhodium flashing. This is the process of adding an extremely thin layer of rhodium, rarely more than 1 micron, to a piece of jewelry. This layer is what gives white gold its color and metals like silver more shine.

Why Is Rhodium Plating Used in Jewelry?

Rhodium plating is a great idea for jewelry for several reasons. The most important qualities of rhodium are that it is a noble metal, it has a bright whitish color and is hypoallergenic.

Like with white gold, the rhodium layer is what gives the jewelry its color. Rhodium is also sometimes used to make the color of silver jewelry more vibrant.

rhodium plated earrings

Nickel is another metal that can also give jewelry a white color. However, nickel can cause an allergic reaction in some wearers. This makes rhodium a safer metal to work with because it is hypoallergenic.

Rhodium plating is especially popular for wedding bands. A wedding band has to endure a lot. It is a precious piece of jewelry that is worn daily and needs to last a lifetime. Basically, it needs all the help it can get to stay brilliant and smooth. That’s where rhodium comes in by acting as a shiny protective layer.

Is Rhodium Plated Jewelry More Expensive?

Rhodium is a very rare metal. Its rarity makes it more expensive than gold. However, a jewelry piece with rhodium plating is not necessarily more expensive.

One of the reasons why jewelry is not made entirely of rhodium is because of its cost. However, since only an extremely thin layer of rhodium is added, there is not much of a price hike.

The other reason is that Rhodium is very brittle and less malleable than other noble metals. This is why platinum and gold are still the preferred noble metals for fine jewelry.

There is another cost to consider with rhodium plating. Despite its durability, rhodium can, sometimes, wear off. The good news is is that your jeweler can replate the jewelry piece.

The cost of replating will depend on the jewelry piece, the thickness of the rhodium layer and whether your jeweler offers a guarantee. Factor in a small maintenance fee for plating every year or even every two years, depending on how often you wear the piece.

How Do You Take Care of Rhodium Plated Jewelry?

Taking care of jewelry with rhodium plating is very easy. Simply wipe the jewelry piece with a soft cloth to clear away any buildup.

Don’t use any chemical cleaners or steam cleaning. Also, avoid contact with chemicals from cleaning products, hairspray, perfume, and makeup. You should also remove your ring before swimming in a pool with chlorine. These are all common rules for most jewelry though, not just rhodium plated jewelry.

When To Be Careful With Replating Jewelry

Hopefully, you now understand why your jeweler is keen to show you jewelry pieces with rhodium plating. The jewelry piece is made more durable and you can simply replate it when the rhodium wears off.

Rhodium will not affect most (semi) precious stones but there are a few gemstones that could cause problems during replating. The precious stones that could get damaged are treated rubies and emeralds. For semi-precious stones, opals, turquoise, peridot, pearls, and topaz are a concern. Consider choosing a different material for jewelry pieces with these stones.

Rhodium plating is the protective shield that your jewelry pieces need to keep their shine and stay scratch-free. But this metallic layer isn’t invincible. Remember to polish your jewelry piece regularly and take it to the jeweler every year or so to get a professional replating. Continue reading our articles to find out more about jewelry and become a jewelry expert. Visit Ana Luisa online jewelry shop to discover our rhodium dipped jewelry collections.

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Ruxandra is a fashion blogger who teaches fashion stumped twenty to thirty somethings how to shop their jewelry boxes for polished new ensembles. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Fashionista, Nylon, and Refinery29.