WHAT IS RHODIUM PLATING?
Rhodium plating is most commonly applied to gold jewellery to enhance its look and lend a higher sheen to white gold and silver. It is especially attractive when used for diamond rings as it can really enhance the brilliance of diamonds.
Rhodium plating is a precious metal like platinum, gold and silver and is found as a byproduct of mining for other metals and is very rare.
It holds the distinction as being one of the most expensive precious metals of the world and is known to be 10 to 25 times more expensive than gold.
Rhodium plating is most often found on white gold to provide a surface that will resist scratches, corrosion and oxidation, gives a white reflective appearance and increases the durability of any jewellery it plates.
All white gold jewellery is made from adding a mix of pure silver, copper and palladium (which is the whitening agent) to pure yellow gold. As a result, the raw colour of this white gold mix has an underlying grayish tinge to it. For this reason all manufacturers and most expert jewellers will rhodium plate any white gold jewellery they have made, or have worked on, to put a brilliant, bright white finish on it.
Rhodium plating is nickel free, making it hypoallergenic and as nickel allergy is increasing across the population, it is a good recommendation for people who are allergic to silver, to have their silver rhodium plated, as it will prevent them from direct contact.
Usually a very thin layer is used for plating procedures, however over time the rhodium plating wears off and needs re-rhodium plating.
There is no set time for how long rhodium lasts but for some it can last from six months to years.
How and where you wear your white gold can determine the longevity of the rhodium plating. For example, wearing two rings together can cause rubbing and the rhodium to wear, wearing your rhodium plated jewellery in the garden, exposing it to harsh chemicals, perfumes and cosmetics can also cause early wear. Sometimes the body chemistry of the wearer is also a factor that can affect how quickly the plating wears off.
A piece of jewellery that is worn less frequently or comes in less contact with your skin or the elements can keep its plating for many years.
Discoloration can also occur on the un-plated areas, and in some rare instances, your skin will have a slight reddening reaction to the exposed white gold.
Rhodium plating can also be used on other coloured gold, such as, yellow and pink to change its colour to white. However, bear in mind that as the plating starts to wear off, the original colour will start to show through and the piece will require re-plating more frequently.
Ideally, having rings rhodium plated and checked annually, is the best way to keep them looking their best.
As rhodium is very rare and expensive, plating can be quite costly.