Walden of Two and a Half Men Single-Handedly Raises Rhodium's Profile
A couple of my clients who are Two and a Half Men fans told me about an episode in which Ashton Kutcher's character, Walden, proclaimed that his Rhodium wedding band was made of "the most expensive metal in the world."
This has caused a spike of interest in rhodium, it's even been mentioned by ABC in their blog, found here: Move Over Platinum, Now There's Rhodium. This blog discusses rhodium's price as a metal, but ignores the fact that rings are not made out of rhodium.
Then Rhodium Was Trending on Twitter Something Fierce
I wanted to give everyone my 2-cents and clear up a bit of misinformation currently going around about rhodium in wedding bands. The first is that we don't cast rings out of rhodium, we plate with it.
As my friend Bernie who does a lot of my rhodium plating says, "rhodium is super fine in the molecular department. Honey don't quote me on that. But the bottom line is its fineness makes it great for plating, but not so great for casting into jewelry."
What is Rhodium?
Rhodium is a metal in the platinum metals group. It is very white. It is whiter than platinum. And even more white than white gold. When plated on metal, rhodium often gives a shinier shine than the underlying metal gives.
On the East Coast it's a big thing to rhodium plate your platinum rings as well as your white gold ones. On the West Coast, that jewelry beautifying trick with platinum jewelry isn't as well known. Re-rhodium plating is common all over for white gold rings.
Reaching Out to the Stars (Yeah, I'm doin' that)
Don't get me wrong, I love that Ashton Kutcher's character is loving his ring. Unfortunately the rhodium plated part of his ring will at some point wear off and need to be re-plated.
"Ashton, feel free to call on me for your next rhodium plating need!"
Rhodium is For Jewelry Plating
I've written about rhodium before because I use it in jewelry plating as a finishing step when I custom make white gold and platinum jewelry creations. I also use it as a final step when repairing white metal jewelry.
Plating with rhodium brings the pop to white metal color. This is my blog post and my explanation of rhodium.
My other blog post is about ways to improve and beautify your jewelry with rhodium treatment.
Can I Make an Engagement Ring Out of Rhodium?
I was asked this by a client who wanted to do something out of this world different for his fiance. I told him no I can't do that. He asked why. With help from my fellow jewelers I'll tell you what I told him.
What is the Melting Point of Rhodium vs Platinum?
Leo Salinas of Gracie's Gold in Seguin Texas, is a retired chemical engineer turned jeweler. He points out that Rhodium melts at higher temps than even platinum. Platinum's melting temperature is 3215 F (1768 C) vs gold which melts at 1948 F (1064 C). Rhodium's melting point is 3567 F (1964 C). The significance of this is that when working platinum we need different equipment than working gold. We would need additional and quite expensive specialized equipment to reach the higher temps needed for rhodium.
Can a Ring with a Prong Set Diamond be Made From Pure Rhodium?
Dan Dement Founder of Stone Oak Jewelers in San Antonio Texas, says rhodium is far too brittle to be used in an engagement ring. Bend a prong once, you're OK. Bend the prong twice, it breaks off. A good friend of his refines all platinum group metals and holds several patents on his processes. The equipment necessary is not in the jeweler's area of equipment.
Can a Simple Wedding Band be Made of Rhodium?
Dan Dement says rhodium is very, very hard and regular files, used to finish and polish gold and platinum jewelry are just going to skip across the metal. You have to grind off the excess.
Grinding super hard metals requires a machine shop or aerospace equipment type of set up, not what jeweler's have in their workshops.
He says it is not an easy thing and super expensive. A jeweler would not be able to size this band. As much as I like rhodium, I say don't even think about making a piece of jewelry from pure rhodium.
What is the Cost of Rhodium vs Platinum?
According to Kitco, a company that tracks metal prices, on June 22nd 2019, rhodium cost $3250.00 per ounce vs platinum at $807.00 per ounce. Rhodium is way more expensive than platinum and gold.
I Love Rhodium
Ashton Kutcher loves rhodium too. But I love it for the plating and the white and shine it gives white gold and platinum jewelry.