All About Rhodium – Precious Metals Series

An element that is pure silver-white, rhodium is listed on the periodic table as a transition metal. This element is a member of the group of platinum, along with ruthenium, platinum, palladium, osmium and iridium. It is a very rare precious metal. Depending on the current market for the price of rhodium, it is usually the precious metal with the highest price tag. For example, one ounce of rhodium has a price tag of between two thousand dollars to two thousand five hundred dollars per ounce. At times, prices fluctuate and at one point the price even reached up to ten thousand dollars an ounce.

Rhodium has extremely high reflective light characteristics. It is resistant to scratches, tarnish, corrosion and is extremely durable.

Rhodium Plating

Frequently, plating with rhodium is used for increasing the durability, strength and bright look of white gold, platinum and silver jewelry. However, with time, the plate on the jewelry will tend to wear off. It is thus important to purchase jewelry with the right plating thickness in order to avoid constant re-plating and discoloration of the ring.

Couples will also need to make a decision whether or not they want to deal with the added time and expense of having to constantly re-plate their wedding rings and jewelry in general. At times, it can be a better option to use alternative to rhodium plating. With time, annual re-plating will tend to be very expensive.

Rhodium Flashing

The correct term for jewelry plated with rhodium is rhodium flashing. This is a method that coats a fine rhodium layer over silver platinum or white gold in order to increase their shine and durability. This process is temporary since, with time, plated rhodium jewelry wears off. The time it remains intact depends on how much use the piece of jewelry is put through and also how thick the plating was originally. For instance, earrings might retain their plated rhodium year after year. However, rings that are on your hand and exposed to wear daily will require a different plating of between one and two years. If the first plating was quite thin, extra ring plating will be necessary within the year.

It does not take very long to re-plate rhodium rings. Most jewelers in the professional setting are accustomed to doing this. With time, white gold starts to become yellow and if it was not plated with rhodium. Once this starts to happen, another coat of rhodium can restore the white gold color of jewelry.

How Thick Is Enough?

When it comes to your wedding ring, the ideal rhodium thickness is between .75 to about one-and-a-half microns. To give you a clue about how thin this is, the hair of human beings is one hundred microns. When jewelry is not worn every day, it can take years for pieces to retain their plating of between .10 and .50. However, for wedding rings that are exposed on a continuing basis, it is best to get thicker plating.