What is Rhodium Plating?

Rhodium Plating

Rhodium Plating

People interested in jewelry might have heard the term rhodium plating quite often but not many know exactly what it is and how is it used. To understand rhodium plating you first need to know what rhodium is. It is a precious metal that is very rare in nature. Due to its scarcity, it is extremely expensive as compared to other metals like gold, silver and platinum. An ounce of rhodium will cost on an average of about $2000 to $2500. When it is in pure form, it is extremely brittle and hard to mold into shape. This is why it is generally used as a plating material.

Rhodium plating is a process in which an extremely thin layer of around 0.75 to 1.0 microns of rhodium is applied to the base metal, usually through electroplating. In simple terms, the recipient metal, usually white gold, silver or platinum is dipped into a rhodium-based solution and an electric current is passed through it. Due to the electric current, rhodium from the solution travels towards the base metal and gets permanently attached to it. The whole process roughly takes about an hour and a half to be completed.

There are many advantages from rhodium plating. Firstly it offers a higher sheen and smoothness to the base metal and hides their flaws, thus providing luster and durability to your jewelry pieces. It doesn’t tarnish or corrode and gives a white, reflective appearance. As it’s a hard metal, it also protects your jewelry from scratches. When used for diamond rings, it greatly enhances their beauty. There are also no complicated cleaning processes which you need to perform when you have rhodium plated jewelry. Just a little soapy water is all you need to clean it.

But there are certain disadvantages too. As only a thin layer of rhodium is used to coat your base metal, with time, it eventually wears off and you have to re-plate it every few years depending on how you wear it. A wedding ring is worn daily, so it will usually require re-plating once or twice a year but a pair of earrings can retain their plating for many years. Due to its maintenance, it might become a costly investment for some people. For example, a re-plating of diamond ring will cost you about $100.

If you have taken the decision to go for rhodium plating after looking at all the pros and cons discussed above, consider selecting jewelers that offer free of charge plating for an extended period of time. In this way, you will be able to benefit from rhodium plating without worrying about its maintenance charges.