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?
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?
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
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)
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?
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!”