If you have a keen interest in jewelry pieces, “rhodium plating” is probably one of those phrases that you often hear. But, what does rhodium plating mean and when is it used in the first place?
Even though rhodium plating is typically used in pieces of jewelry, not a lot of people are familiar with it. The purpose of rhodium plating is to improve the durability and luster of metals like white gold and silver to give the piece a shiny and smooth finish.
Rhodium plating is more attractive if used on diamond rings as this can dramatically increase the diamond’s striking brilliance.
Read on to know more about rhodium plating, what makes it great, and how it works.
An Overview of Rhodium and Rhodium Plating
The element rhodium is part of the family of platinum metal. This is being used in jewelry pieces for plating meals and adding protection layer.
Rhodium in itself is harder compared to gold that makes this a durable protective material that metals can be plated with.
Rhodium is rare as well and this is the reason why this precious metal is 10 to 25 times more expensive than gold itself. This means that this can protect your metal jewelry, gemstones, and precious jewels. It makes rhodium a worthy investment for jewelry protection.
Rhodium boasts of a reflective silver platinum hue that can resist tarnishing and corrosion. With this said, it is safe to say that pure rhodium itself is not being used in pieces of jewelry. The truth is that rhodium is very brittle that makes it easily breakable. But, once rhodium has been used as a plate for protecting other elements of jewelry, it makes the piece stronger and tougher
Rhodium plating is also known as rhodium flashing or rhodium dip. Rhodium plating basically increases the lifespan of jewelry pieces.
What Makes Rhodium a Great Element?
Even though rhodium is too brittle and too expensive to be used for making jewelry pieces, it makes as a great material for plating. This often helps hide imperfections and gives more sheen to white gold and silver jewelry pieces.
Since this is harder than gold and silver alike, it also serves as an outstanding protective coat that can shield jewelry pieces from any scratches.
Another noteworthy benefit of rhodium is that it doesn’t tarnish and doesn’t need special cleaning processes. Rhodium plating is also highly recommended for people who have allergy to silver since this can keep them protected from any direct contact with silver itself.
How Does Rhodium Plating Work?
The very first step to adding rhodium plating to your jewelry is to clean it properly and thoroughly. You will want to ensure that every piece of particle and dirt has been removed or else, the rhodium plating won’t be able to hold.
You can choose from several options if you want to do a solid cleaning on your jewelry. This includes the use of distilled water, electrocleaning, and steam cleaning.
After the piece is completely cleaned, that is the time when rhodium will get plated. The process of electroplating involves dipping the piece of jewelry into the rhodium solution. An electrical charge will be used to fuse rhodium with the base material.
Recommended Thickness of Rhodium Plating
The ideal rhodium plating has a thickness of 0.75 up to 1.0 microns. Even though it might sound too thin, this is actually regarded as thick enough not only to rings but also to other jewelry pieces that are often exposed to regular rough wear. Rhodium plating with a thickness of 0.10 to 0.50 is acceptable for pieces of jewelry like pendants or earrings that tend to be more sheltered as well as for pieces that are not used that often.
Extremely thick rhodium plating might crack because of the brittleness of rhodium. However, too thin rhodium plating can cause discoloration on the jewelry. This is why jewelers take extra care to make sure that the right thickness of rhodium plating is used on the jewelry.
Is Rhodium Plating Long Lasting?
The longevity of rhodium plating is dependent on the specific jewelry piece where it is used and the amount of friction that it receives. For necklaces and earrings, for instance, there is a chance that the rhodium plating will not wear off at all. However, for rings worn every day, their rhodium plating might just last for one year or so. This will all depend on how often you wear your ring.
You can tell right away when you need to re-plate your piece of jewelry. The color of metal is going to start showing the original yellowish color. This is often observed on the bottom part of the ring where it receives the most amount of wear and tear regularly.
If the jeweler used a torch when working on your jewelry, the flame of the torch is going to burn off the jewelry’s rhodium plating. This is why rhodium plating is always the final step that should be made during the process.
When Rhodium Plating is Not Recommended
After everything that you’ve learned about rhodium plating, you are surely convinced how great it is. If this is the case, then, wouldn’t it be great to use this on all pieces of jewelry? Wouldn’t this improve your jewelry better?
Unfortunately, the answer is no.
In fact, there are some instances when rhodium plating might not really work well for different reasons. For starters, it is important to keep in mind that just an extremely layer of rhodium is being used in the process of plating.
With normal and regular use, the rhodium plating will soon come off, which means that re-plating will be necessary every few years or so. For pieces such necklaces or rings that the skin comes into close contact with, the rubbing can make the plating come off faster. It then requires a thicker plating layer that might cause a significant change in the color of the jewelry piece.
Knowing more about rhodium plating can help you decide if this is great for your jewelry pieces or not.