What is rhodium?
First things first, rhodium is a rare and precious element that can be 10 to 25 times more expensive than gold. Rhodium is a member of the platinum group of metals and is silver-hued, highly reflective and does not tarnish or corrode. It is harder than gold and is highly durable.
However, rhodium is a very brittle metal and is not easily shaped or formed. As a result, pure rhodium cannot be made into jewellery. On its own it can easily crack and break somewhat like glass. But when used to plate other jewellery, rhodium enhances the durability of the metal.
Why should I rhodium plate my jewellery?
Rhodium plating, also known as rhodium dip or rhodium flashing, is used to increase the durability, luster and light reflection of a piece of jewellery. Because it is a hard metal, a rhodium plated piece of jewellery will be more scratch resistant. Rhodium plating is mainly used on silver-hued metals, such as white gold, palladium or silver. Most rhodium plating has a thickness of .75 to 1.0 microns.
Should I rhodium plate sterling silver?
Sterling silver is a white metal and does not need rhodium plating to acquire its color. However, it tends to tarnish over time. To prevent this, rhodium plating silver jewellery will ensure that the piece is highly lustrous and remains tarnish-free for a long time.
What is the process of rhodium plating?
Rhodium is plated using an electroplating process. For a piece of jewellery to be plated, it must first be thoroughly cleaned to remove all contaminants. If there is any dirt on the piece, the plating will not hold.
Distilled water, steam cleaning and electro cleaning are some ways that the item is cleaned before it is dipped into the rhodium solution. A positive electrical charge is then used to fuse the rhodium onto the base metal.
Care must be taken, because if the electric current is too high, the rhodium plating will turn black. The process takes roughly around an hour and a half to be completed. For our resin gemstones made with ashes we can only do pen plating with rhodium to protect the stone. The keepsake stones can not be dipped in the rhodium bath the traditional way.
How long does rhodium plating last?
Many shoppers believe that rhodium plating is permanent. While it is permanent, like any other metal used in jewellery, it tends to suffer wear and tear with exposure.
Rhodium plating wears off over time and will need to be re-plated. Typically, a ring would need to be re-plated once every 12 to 18 months, but this can vary depending on the wear and tear the piece sustains as well as the thickness of the plating and the color of the base metal.
Sometimes the body chemistry of the wearer is also a factor that can affect how quickly the plating wears off. If the base metal is yellowish (like white gold), there is a high chance that the color will bleed through before the 12 months is up.
How can I make rhodium plating last longer?
Rhodium plating is bound to wear off after a while, but there are some steps you can take to make it last as long as possible.
- Avoid rubbing the rhodium plating on your ring. For example, constantly washing your hands can wear it off quicker.
- Avoid exposing your jewellery to harsh chemicals. Always take off your jewellery when dealing with chemicals or wear rubber gloves to protect your rings.
- Take your jewellery off when swimming in heavily chlorinated pools as the chlorine can damage the plating.
- Perfumes and cosmetics can also affect rhodium plating. Avoid contact with these and wipe away any residue if it does come into contact.
How do I know if my jewellery is rhodium plated?
All white gold rings are rhodium plated because that is not the natural color of the piece. As mentioned above, white gold in its original form is yellowish.
Our precious stones made with special inclusions: Breastmilk, ashes or hair are casted in a jewellery grade resin. We recommend using the polishing cloth we have sent with your order but if you need a specialised clean to remove tough dirt dried on the stones we can help you out. The integrity of our stones is similar to pearls and opals, therefore they can’t be cleaned with rough polishing compounds and chemicals.
We offer ultrasonic mild cleaning specific for our resin gemstones and band polishing. Please keep in mind deep scratches caused by excessive wear and tear might not come out. Please refer to our care instructions card for more details how to care for your precious jewellery.