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

Rhodium plating is a bit like visiting your favorite hair salon.  Have grey?  Get colored.  Bored with your old shade?  Get colored.  In much the same way, rhodium plating can dramatically transform the look of your jewelry.

What is Rhodium?

Blob of pure rhodium

Pure Rhodium. This Makes for an Excellent Coating Material.

Rhodium is a rare, naturally occurring member of the platinum group of metals.  It’s extremely hard.  It’s silvery in color and highly reflective.

It’s inert against corrosion and doesn’t react with most chemicals.  These properties make rhodium especially good for plating.

Rhodium Plating: What is It?

Yellow Gold and Diamond Heart Pendant

Jewelry plating—including rhodium plating—is essentially covering one metal surface with a very thin layer of another.  This is done using electrolysis.

In this process the item to be plated is dipped in a liquid solution containing the plating metal.  When an electric current is added to the mix, the tiny suspended particles of plating metal bond to the surface of the immersed piece of jewelry.

Rhodium Plating: Why I Love It

Heart with Diamonds Pendant

Rhodium Plating Makes it Look White Gold Like Magic!

Rhodium is often used to plate white gold jewelry.  Because of the very bright and shiny nature of rhodium, it gives white gold a nice “pop.”

Rhodiumed rings look whiter and brighter.  Like washing with Tide!  More often than not, white gold pieces of jewelry you see in jewelry stores have been rhodium plated.  It’s the final step in lots of white gold jewelry.  Again, it gives pieces the “pop” and “zing” that we like and come to expect.

Likewise, silver jewelry is frequently rhodium plated.  Not only does this add shine and sparkle to the piece, but it helps in resisting tarnishing.

As you can imagine, rhodium plating is a relatively inexpensive way to turn a yellow gold piece of jewelry into a white gold piece of jewelry.  It can be as easy as getting your hair done at the salon!

Graciela’s Heart (A Heart-Warming Tale)

Ruby and diamond heart ring

It Didn’t Look Good With Yellow Gold Prongs

At a client’s house one day, I asked if she had any jewelry she no longer wore.  “Oh yes!” she said immediately. A minute later she came back with a box full of jewelry that for one reason or another, hadn’t seen the light of day in very long time.

The first item she pulled out of the box was yellow gold and diamond ring.  I could tell by just the look in her eyes and the way she looked it, that the ring had a great deal of sentimental value.

Sure enough, she told me she had received the diamond heart ring from her husband.  The center ruby was surrounded by many smaller diamonds.  She really wanted to wear the ring and I could tell she loved both of them a lot—her husband and the ring.

I looked closely at the piece of jewelry wringing her heart.  The ring was almost pretty…but not quite!  The problem with the piece was that there was too much yellow gold showing between the older diamonds.  Graciela regularly wore yellow gold, so her husband had taken inherited and very old diamonds and had the ring made in yellow gold.

After explaining all about rhodium plating, and how if the prongs blended in and didn’t compete with the diamonds it’d look better, I took the ring with me.  Graciela was very excited.

A week later I sat next to Graciela on her living room couch.  She was now excited and hopeful and animated all rolled up into one.  She was like a little kid on Christmas morning.

I handed her the bag with her name on it.  She eagerly reached inside and pulled out the little package.  Her smile couldn’t have been wider.

Hurriedly, she unwrapped the “new” ring.  Then gasping, she asked, “Did you remake a whole other ring?”

“Nope,” I said.  “I just rhodium plated it.”

“I love it!” she squealed slipping it onto her finger and holding it admiringly out at arm’s length.  Graciela was utterly thrilled.

“That’s the magic of rhodium,” I said.

The diamonds looked much better with the white prongs. They looked twice as bright against the shiny, reflective surface of the rhodium.  It really did look like a new ring.

What about You?

rhodium plating before and after

Rhodium Plating Makes a Big Difference for White Gold Pieces That Have Lost Their Bright Look

Do you have jewelry like Graciela’s?  Jewelry that hasn’t seen daylight in years?  Jewelry that looks dated?  Out of style?  Not quite right?  Dull, scratched, and a slightly faded?

A little rhodium plating is all it might take to transform your old jewelry into something new and exciting.  A touch of rhodium is all it might take for you to love your jewelry all over again!

Black Rhodium – Yes There is Even Black Rhodium

Here’s my blog post about black rhodium.

Here’s my black rhodium video about it:

What’s My Motto?

“Wear It Don’t Warehouse It!”

Calla Gold

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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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Michelle
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Calla,
Love this article! Very informative and it’s made me think about jewelry I have that might need some ‘updating’!
Thanks for posting this!

Dr. Lynn K. Jones
Guest

I just met a woman who was showing off her heirloom engagement ring. When I commented that it looked like it was in great condition for an heirloom, she explained to me that she had just had it Rhodium plated. I had no idea what she was talking about, but now I do! Thanks for an informative and interesting blog post.
Lynn
http://www.lynnkjones.com

Randi Earl
Guest
Randi Earl

This is a great article!! Super informative and easy to understand for us “non-jewlery” people! I’m so happy we went with rhodium plating for my engagement ring… you’re right in that it’s really shiny and bright! Thanks again for all your help!

Tonya
Guest
Tonya

Good blogging!

Shannon
Guest
Shannon

Calla Gold,
Can you tell me about how much this rhodium plating costs? And do the stones have to be removed before the ring is dipped? I have a yellow gold ring with a lot of baguettes that I would love to change to a white gold color and I have no idea if it’s feasible b/c of the number of baguettes and stones.
I doubt I can afford for it to be completely taken apart and reset. And how often must a ring be redipped?
Does the rhodium wear off quickly?

Shannon
Guest
Shannon

Thank you for your response. I am not near the Santa Barbara area, but I really appreciate the information. I spoke to a local jeweler yesterday about having my ring plated and we are considering just plating the setting and leaving the band yellow. I would love to have it ALL plated, though, and if the cost is less than $75 to do it yearly I think I might do the whole thing anyway. Thanks again for your personal reply 🙂

Shannon
Guest
Shannon

My ring is being done this week, I can’t wait to see it. We settled on just doing the setting for now, since I have a very wide setting and you can’t really see my band except from the underneath, and the band’s plating will wear faster we just decided to forgo it. And if the 2-tone look just looks “off” then I’ll go ahead and have the band done as well later. Thank you for all your information.

Sue
Guest
Sue

Hello Calla Gold Jewelry I have a question for you. Can Rhodium plating be done on metals other than silver and gold?

Eileen Deery
Guest

I have a large gold plated ring over silver
that I would like replated as the gold is
wearing off. I do not want a change in the
design just replated. Can I mail it to you?
and approximately how much? I will call you
Monday

Magan
Guest
Magan

I sell fashion jewelry but I LOVE fine jewelry too. Do you do black rhodium plating as well? I have an older yellow gold ring with some diamonds channel set that I never wear anymore and have thought it would be so new and trendy looking in black as a right hand ring.

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