Uncover The Mysteries Behind Rhodium Plating
Posted: May 06, 2014
With the recent increase in the popularity of white metal jewellery, the interest in rhodium plating has also increased. Jewellery designers such as Keith Gordon are offering this service as par for the course today, as more people are investing in white metal jewellery. But what is rhodium plating and why is it needed?
Why Use Rhodium Plating?
Rhodium plating or ‘dipping’ is a finish that is applied to white gold to make it look whiter and provide an added layer of protection. Rhodium is often used with white gold, as white gold itself does not exist. It is in fact gold mixed with another metal that has a white cast, such as silver or palladium. The gold gives it a yellowish look, dulling down the white sheen that is what customers want from their white gold ring, so rhodium is used to create a beautiful bleached white colour.
Rhodium is a very rare metal and, interestingly, is ten times more expensive than gold. You may wonder why rhodium is not used as a metal on its own for jewellery, but its brittle properties render it too difficult to work with, and it is only viable as a plating metal. Rhodium is a very tough metal, which also adds to its usefulness as a plating metal. It does not discolour or tarnish and, as it is harder than gold, it is more scratch-resistant and consequently able to stand up to more rigorous daily wear. Some jewellers even use this plating on silver as a protective mechanism and on platinum to enhance its shine.
The actual process of rhodium plating is a simple one, and jewellers like Keith Gordon can do it while you wait. Most white gold rings will be rhodium-plated, but it is worth noting that the plating is not permanent, and over time it wears off and will need replacing. It will be obvious when the plating needs to be replaced, as the colour will become dull; the extent to which will depend on the carat value of the ring and the secondary alloy used in it. Cheaper white gold will be more noticeably yellow as the rhodium wears off, whereas a more expensive white gold enriched with palladium will not discolour as much. How frequently you need to replace the plating will depend on the quality of the ring itself.
If you go to a jeweller like Keith Gordon, the cost of rhodium-plating your ring will not be expensive. The jeweller will begin by polishing off the remaining rhodium and any scratches that have accumulated before applying the plating.
Some people may be shocked to learn that the shiny white appearance of their dream white gold ring is actually down to its rhodium plating, but it is better to know that before you buy the ring so you understand the need for its upkeep and care. If there are any worries, though, talk to a jeweller such as Keith Gordon, and he or she will give you all the information you need to care for your white gold.
Laura L Bolick is the founder of the F&L Designer Guides, compiled and written to help consumers choose a unique engagement ring design. Hosting designers like Keith Gordon and hundreds of articles on subjects ranging from princess cuts to engraved bands, we have ideas and opinions covering all the options. Offering advice, tips and suggestions on how to choose that perfect ring, F&L will accompany you on every stage of your search to find the right designer.
Writer and Online Marketing Manager in London.