I am constantly being asked, “What is Rhodium Plating and why do I have to have it on my ring?”
Rhodium is a precious metal and a member of the Platinum family. It is a highly reflective and corrosion resistant metal. It can be found in nature but is more commonly found as a by-product of nickel & copper refining.
It is used for many purposes within the industrial field, but when it comes to Jewellery it has a special function.
As you all know, gold is yellow. It has other metal added to colour it to white gold. White Gold at the point of manufacture is a little greyish, so an electroplating solution of Rhodium is plated on all the white gold areas.
The Jeweller masks all the areas which are not to be plated with a coating of red nail-polish, and then dipped into the Rhodium Solution which is then electroplated on.
The red coating is then removed and the ring is given a final polish.
This Rhodium plating gives the white gold a white reflective look, also helps protect surfaces from tarnishes and is a hypoallergenic which can help skin irritations.
Whenever a Jeweller works on a ring, if it is white gold or has a component of white gold you will often be advised that it will require Rhodium plating. When the Jeweller is polishing the ring after working on it, they will also polish off the Rhodium, no way around that.
Rhodium should last approx. 5 years. Rhodium is a very rare and expensive metal, thus there is always a charge to Rhodium plate. As with everything, there are different brands/qualities, so the usual rule of ‘you get what you pay for’ usually applies.