Rhodium plating is used to increase the strength, durability, and bright look of white gold rings. The plate on jewelry will wear off with time.
Rhodium is a pure silver-white element, and it is listed as a transition metal on the periodic table. It is a member of the platinum group, along with iridium, osmium, palladium, platinum, and ruthenium. It is a precious metal, and it is very rare.
Rhodium, depending on current market rhodium price, is often the most expensive of the precious metals; an ounce of rhodium is usually priced between $2,000 to $2,500 an ounce, but prices do fluctuate widely (it has reached as high as over $10,000).
Rhodium is extremely durable, resistant to corrosion, tarnish and scratches, and it has extremely high light reflective characteristics.
Plating with rhodium, also known as rhodium flashing, is a process that coats a fine layer of rhodium over white gold, platinum, and silver rings to increase their durability and shine.
Rhodium flashing is not permanent, and it will wear off in time. The wear time depends on how much the jewelry piece is used and how thick the original plating was. For example, a pair of earrings may retain their plating for many years, but a wedding ring which is exposed to daily wear usually requires another plate in 1-2 years. If the initial plating was extremely thin, an additional plating on a wedding ring may be needed in a few months to one year.
Re-plating rhodium rings does not take long, and most professional jewelers offer this service.
White gold will begin to yellow with time if it has not been plated with rhodium; once a ring has begun to yellow, the original white gold color can be restored with a coat of rhodium.
If the plating has worn off, and the ring has become scratched before it can be re-plated, the coat of rhodium will actually make the scratches appear more obvious. If you want to have a scratched ring plated, or re-plated, have the ring analyzed by a professional jeweler to see if the scratches can be removed or buffed out.
Some types of gemstones do not withstand the plating process very well.
Any gemstones which are susceptible to sulfuric compounds, including peridot, topaz and enhanced rubies, can become damaged during a rhodium application.
Features on antique rings too, like tin soldering, can also be damaged during the rhodium plate process.
BLACK RHODIUM PLATING:
Black rhodium gives a grey-black finish. There are two options available for black rhodium plating: selective plating, for when you would like only selected parts of your item black rhodium-plated, or an even coating for the whole item. Selective black rhodium plating is often used to highlight black stone areas or to enhance the color of other gemstones like rubies within a certain setting.
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