Rhodium plating is a common practice for many kinds of jewelry, but not many people really know what it is. Have you heard of rhodium plating, but been left with more questions than answers? Read on the learn all about this jewelry maintenance process.
What is rhodium plating?
Rhodium plating is a technique where rhodium, a white metal, is coated onto jewelry in order to keep it from tarnishing, as well as adding an extra layer of gorgeous, long-lasting shine. Rhodium is a type of metal that belongs to the platinum family. In fact, it is known as the most expensive of all precious metals, sometimes costing more than double the price of gold. Rhodium is extremely expensive due to its rarity, and is valuable to jewelers as it is highly reflective, creating more of a desired lustrous effect for jewelry. Rhodium was first discovered by William Hyde Wollaston in 1803, when the chemist acquired it from a sample of platinum ore. The metal is usually obtained after refining copper or nickel and is commercially mined in both North and South America, although almost 80 percent is found in South Africa alone.
Why should I rhodium plate my jewelry?
Although rhodium possesses qualities that keep the jewelry from tarnishing or scratching, the main purpose to this specific type of plating is to create a beautiful, glossy surface on the piece that creates a reflective shine, especially for white gold. The reason rhodium plating is most commonly done on white gold is because white gold is not naturally “white.” In fact, it is just yellow gold combined with other metals, resulting in a gold with less of a yellow tone to it. Depending on the metals that the pure gold is combined with, this new alloy of gold can still look pale yellow in color. If you’ve ever wondered why your white gold ring started turning yellow on the back, this is what you were seeing. After rhodium plating is accomplished, white gold becomes the desired color it is meant to be...a bright striking white. As a bonus, it is also quite durable. Rhodium is has often been applied to mirrors and searchlights because of its strong resistance to scrapes and scratches. Rhodium is quite the valuable metal! It is a precious metal that is almost ten times more expensive than gold. However, rhodium cannot be made into jewelry because the element is so brittle. It would easily break and crumble when worked with, so it is best suited for its use as a plating material. Several gorgeous pieces that have been rhodium plated are featured on our website. To view a pair of our stunning earrings and other rhodium plated jewels we offer, click here.
What is the plating process like?
There are several steps to completing a satisfying, “job well done” rhodium plating. The most important step in the process of rhodium plating is to ensure that the jewelry is completely clean before applying the metal. Here at Sami’s, we complete eight different cleaning methods before rhodium plating your jewelry to guarantee that our plating job will further your expectations. First of all, we polish the jewelry in order to remove any noticeable scratches. This also serves to remove the top layer of dirt, grime, and even fingerprints off of the jewelry. We then transfer it to our ultrasonic unit, which removes any dirt and residue left on after polishing. After the jewelry has sat in the ultrasonic unit for as long as 30 minutes, we take it out to powersteam. In between every cleaning process that is done after powersteaming, we rinse the jewelry to make certain that the jewelry remains clean at every step. We finish the cleaning process by putting the jewelry in an electro clean base, soaking it in an acid bath, and then dipping the piece in 3 different distilled water bases, going the extra mile to ensure that the piece is as spotless as it can possibly be. All of these procedures lead up to the final, and most exciting, step in the process...Rhodium plating! The jewelry is placed into the rhodium solution for a short 20-30 seconds and...Ta-dah! It comes out a stunning, lustrous white! Rhodium plating is safe, even for jewelry with diamonds and gemstones. To watch a video of the process being done in our own store, click here.
Here at Sami Fine Jewelry, we will rhodium plate jewelry in Fountain Hills AZ under our warranty for free! If you wear your jewelry on a regular basis, we strongly recommend getting it rhodium plated every few years in order to keep it from tarnishing, or acquiring an unwanted yellow tone. Rhodium plating is an amazing process that is an essential part of maintaining the beauty of your jewelry.