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?
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!
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!
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
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?
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.
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?
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?
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,