Rhodium is one of the most expensive precious metals used in jewellery manufacturing for achieving surfaces with maximal shine and protecting it from corrosion and wear. Rhodium is the most lustrous metal of the platinum family and is a precious metal, the price of which exceeds even the value of gold. This precious metal is harder and whiter than platinum, degrades more slowly than gold, and rarely scratches.
Rhodium plating on jewellery. What is it and what is it for?
It’s used for protection of surfaces of jewellery. Rhodium plating is most often used on expensive gold and sterling silver jewellery to protect the beautiful creations from quick abrasion, give them luxurious shine, and extend their life.
The procedure of plating is quite complicated, which is why jewellery with rhodium plating has a higher price. But that is easily justifiable. It’s not only beautiful, but also practical. Jewellery with rhodium plating keeps its presentable appearance for significantly larger - no scratches, dents, or signs of wear can be seen for many years.
Colours of rhodium plating
The natural colour of rhodium is blueish white, quite similar to that of aluminium. When jewellery plating is made from rhodium, various additives are used. With their help the metal can be turned into any colour - traditional colours, for example, silver white, or rarer tones such as purple or even black. White rhodium is most commonly used, and because of this even silver jewellery can seem similar to white gold.
Rhodium is the best friend of silver jewellery
Silver pieces with rhodium plating can be found in almost every jewellery shop: it’s now a classic. It could be said that rhodium is the best friend of silver. Why?
Because the main flaw of silver is its quick oxidization and blackening. Rhodium plating reliably protects the surface of silver from darkening and other physical changes.
Silver can darken from practically anything - even on the next day after being bought! For example, you can get sick and take some medicine, or just leave your jewellery in a damp bathroom overnight, and the next thing you notice is that your silver ring has darkened. The physical appearance of the piece will be blemished. It may require effort to make your favourite bracelet, pendant, or ring looking shiny again.
Most often, though, we don’t see silver in its best form. It’s an active metal, and the process of oxidation doesn’t go past it. Sometimes silver darkens for undetermined reasons right after cleaning.
Silver with rhodium plating is often called ‘everlasting’, as the jewellery doesn’t oxidate or darken, keeping its original appearance and shine for decades. Many things besides jewellery are made from ‘everlasting’ silver, like tiaras for the winners of beauty consents, sports medals, gift money, and other things.
Rhodium doesn’t oxidate in the air or wet environment, nor corrode under the influence of acids, sulphur, chlorine, fluorine, etc. This means that when you buy a silver piece with rhodium plating, you can be sure that nothing will affect its appearance.
Galvanic rhodium plating is so thin that it’s practically impossible to notice it on a finished piece. Rhodium can only be recognised due to its fantastically beautiful and almost mirror shine of the surface.
Silver earrings with rhodium plating can be of any shape and form: rings, studs, long dangling, or other styles. Being a member of the platinum family, rhodium is the shiniest metal of the group hence makes an appropriate coating for earrings with expensive precious stones, which only enhances the optical properties of the pieces.
Any silver earrings with rhodium plating will look very effective. Thanks to its absolute shine this jewellery will make a good wedding present.
Rhodium plated silver bracelets look especially lively, they are visually quite different from usual silver bracelets. Because of large surface areas and intricate patterns dust and other dirt easily clog usual silver bracelets. As a result the pieces lose their original appearance and start looking old. Rhodium, on the other hand, repels all dirt from the jewellery, so bracelets with rhodium coating will always sparkle like new without any type of cleaning.
Rhodium plated rings are a very profitable buy. They are practical and have excellent shine. In the last couple of years rhodium plated wedding rings have become quite popular - everyday wear requires such jewellery to have a strong lasting finish so that it always looks well cared for.
On top of that rhodium harmonises with all stones, as the colour and tone of rhodium can be changed. Topaz, citrine, amethyst, diamond, garnet - natural stones look very noble with sparkling rhodium in the background. Rhodium is more than worthy of being a partner to precious and semiprecious stones.
It’s a pity that nothing lasts forever. With time even rhodium plating can rub off. Don’t get too upset though - it’s easy to reapply the plating in a jewellery workshop. And in no time your favourite chain will shine in the sun rays like new! If you are going to wear the piece every day, such as wedding rings, it’s best to apply two coats of rhodium straight away - this service can be obtained in a jewellery manufacturing facility.