Black Rhodium Plating, Adding that "Pop" to your Jewelry!

 

Engagement Ring with three main diamonds and black rhodium

White Gold, Hand Engraving and Black Rhodium Engagement Ring

Rhodium is a very rare, naturally occurring member of the platinum group of metals - making it a very deluxe metal!

Rhodium is actually one of the most expensive of the precious metals.  The price of rhodium can fluctuate, but generally an ounce of rhodium can go for roughly $2,500 dollars!

It’s extremely tough, able to resist corrosion and scratches.  It’s silvery color and highly reflective nature also make it "pop!"  It is because of this toughness and highly reflective nature that rhodium makes an excellent plating material.

What Exactly is Black Rhodium Plating?

 

On the Left, a Black Rhodium Finished Heart Ring. On the Right a Yellow Gold Heart Ring

On the Left, a Black Plated Finished Heart Ring. On the Right a Yellow Gold Heart Ring of the Same Design.

I asked a few people who do black rhodium plating how black rhodium is created from regular white rhodium.

The amount of non-answers I got was most interesting, from "if I tell you I have to kill you," to "they add a chemical and then it turns black."

"Gee thanks guys. I feel so informed!" So I'll tell you about plating and we'll just admire the black version for its wonderful look. OK?

All About Plating!

 

|Gold plated pin before and after gold plating|(license)

Gold Plated Porsche

Jewelry plating is covering one metal surface with a very thin layer of another.  I go over the plating process in my blog "Gold Plating Jewelry Explained – How Plating Renews Your Old Jewelry."

Why I Love Black Rhodium Plating, and Why You Should Too!

 

Rose Gold Wedding Band with Norwegian Rosemaling Engraving, Finished with Black Rhodium

When I was introduced to black rhodium it was an exciting time. This particular finish allowed me to design in a completely different way.

I felt like ropes that had tied me were cut away. Clients of mine that wanted a really different feel for their design were the first to help me celebrate with the antique tone that created such a different look.

When I started using hand engraving in my designs years ago I felt that same excitement. But with black rhodium there's just something so "rock n' roll" and slightly misbehavin' about it. I just love that!

How Black Rhodium Sets off Your Gemstones

Brown opal champagne diamond necklace

Yowah Opal and Champagne Diamonds Pendant with Black Rhodium

Just check out this rockin' pendant!  When my client came in with the Yowah opal, I knew we had a design challenge on our hands.

White diamonds were too bright as an accent and overwhelmed the subtle detail of her opal. I wanted to use champagne diamonds, but when  set in bright gold their delicate color tone was overwhelmed and they no longer looked champagne colored.

The dark rhodium created shade, if you will, to let the diamonds subtly glow. It let the opal look like the star of the piece that it was meant to be. Without  the dark rhodium this project would be disappointing. Instead it is  unique and it works.

Is Your Ring a Candidate for Black Rhodium?

 

Black rhodium close up on hand engraved ring

Black Rhodium Deepens the Engraving Look

The black rhodium look is awesome, but unfortunately, black rhodium will wear off a bit more quickly than white rhodium.

This is especially true on rings that are worn daily and are simple, smooth and shiny.

That plain white gold shiny gold band you're wearing that you'd like to spice up with black rhodium? Uh, no. That won't fly a bit.

black rhodium with hand engraving on diamond ring

Black Rhodium Changes the Whole Look of This Design

The thing that helps make black rhodium "stick" to your jewelry is a textural element.

If your ring design has engraving or some three dimensional texturing on it, then it is a candidate for black rhodium.

Smooth rings don't have anything for the rhodium to "hang on" to, so it will wear away faster.

What About  Black Rhodium for Your Earrings and Pendants?

 

French Clip Bold Style Earrings Jazzed up With a Bit of Black Rhodium Finish

For a more lasting plating try it on your earrings and pendants. I suggest this because they don't get the frequent hand washing that rings get. Any plating will last longer when worn gently.

What do You do When it Starts Wearing off?

 

Three Rings with different levels of rhodium plating wear

Plating Differences

Fortunately, re-plating rhodium or black rhodium on your jewelry is easily done. Like waxing your car. It looks amazing, but it does need maintenance to stay shiny and beautiful.

Black treatment will cost more than white rhodium.

This is because often after the black plating is done, your jeweler will take the time to polish some of it away to create a bit more definition and lighter darker contrast. And the prep and steps for black plating are more extensive than with white rhodium.

Any time your black ring is sized, the black rhodium will need to be redone, because it is heat sensitive. Thus sizing a black finished ring will cost more. But, it is so worth it to have such a unique finish.

What is the Cost of Black Plating my Ring?

The cost to black rhodium plate an average ring with no complex issues would be between $75.00 and $120.00.

I say give it a try and see how you like the look.

Your Personal Jeweler,
Calla Gold

Want to Know More About Rhodium Plating?

Rhodium Plating; Like Coloring Your Hair, Only for Jewelry!

The Kiss of Night for Your Jewelry – Using Oxidation, Black Rhodium and Black Enamel

Gothic Jewelry Style For Getting Married Darkly

Related Posts

About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.

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J. Tyler
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J. Tyler

Dear Calla, I’ll tell you how black rhodium is made and I don’t have to kill you because I’m in metals and it’s no big secret in my workshop. What is black rhodium? Black rhodium is a regular rhodium plating solution that is intentionally contaminated with tin sulfate, tellurium oxide, and arsenic trioxide at very low percentages but enough to make it plate a uniform black color instead of the original elemental color of bright silver/white. There is no such thing as black rhodium just like there is no such thing as white gold. Both elements must be contaminated/alloyed with… Read more »

Tracey
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Tracey

Hi Calla,
I liked Tyler’s comment and the addition of the secret formula for black rhodium.
Thanks for so many examples of black rhodium finishes on rings and the earrings. It really helps me to visualize how black rhodium might work for me.
That black rhodium ring with the hand engraving and the rubies is so beautiful. I’d wear that ring…. in a minute!

K. Parks
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K. Parks

Hello Calla,

Just for verification from J. Tyler’s comments, “There is no such thing as black rhodium just like there is no such thing as white gold.” And your follow up, “I do not agree that white gold is bleached gold. Just sayin’.” J. Tyler did not say that white gold is bleached gold in any way. J. Tyler is correct, there is no such thing as white gold, it is created from yellow gold.

The black rhodium makes for gorgeous creations!

K. Parks

Emily M
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Emily M

Can you only do black rhodium plating on gold? I love the look of “black gold” but the engagement ring that we decided on is platinum with a green diamond center stone. I absolutely love it and it is gorgeous the way it is, but when we first started looking at rings I was really drawn to the uniqueness of the black plating and how it made colored stones seem to pop even more. Would black rhodium plating be something I could still do with a platinum ring?

danielson
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danielson

Take gold and make it look like cheap not-gold? Facepalm WTF FAIL!

danielson
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danielson

BTW there is no such thing as the “platinum group of metals” its a group 10 transition metal just like nickel. Do you want a ring made of nickel?

GuccizBud
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GuccizBud

Yes there is. The platinum group metals are the 6 metals iridium, osmium, palladium, platinum of course, rhodium, and ruthenium, all of which have similar chemical and physical properties.

So, if I understand, you thought that, because you personally didn’t know about this, that it couldn’t exist?

Brian Mc.
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Brian Mc.

Hi. I have a small jewelry co. And the bench man I use says he is not good with Black rhodium plating does anyone know where I can get it done with the proper micron thickness??? Thanks in advance for the help.

Jeanne
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Jeanne

Hi–I just have a question. Does black rhodium adhere/last better on 14 K or 18 K gold?
Thanks,
Jeanne

Christopher Cox
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Christopher Cox

Hello,
Do you know any company that turns sterling silver in to black rhodium?

Brian S
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Brian S

I’d agree that Black Rhodium should not be applied to a wedding band or everyday ring. It wears off extremely fast.

I’m taking my wedding band back to my jeweler’s shop every 2 months, dropping it off to be replated and getting it back half a month later….only to repeat that cycle.

It is getting to the point, I’m honestly looking at getting a second wedding band for everyday use and using this one as a special events only band.

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