Rhodium Plating FAQs
Answers To Your Most Common Rhodium Plating Questions
In the world of fine jewelry, there are many complex concepts, grading systems, gemstone and metal names and processes. One of these is rhodium plating. Although many people understand that having their engagement or wedding ring rhodium plated is a good thing, they usually don’t understand why or what exactly rhodium plating does. That’s why the experts at Ben Garelick Jewelers has put together the most asked questions about rhodium plating and answered each. We hope this helps explain why so many diamond engagement ring owners choose to enhance their ring with rhodium plating and gives you the chance to consider all of your options.
What is rhodium plating?
Rhodium is a very rare silvery-white, highly reflective metal that does not tarnish or corrode. It is considered to be the most expensive metal in the world! It is a member of the platinum group of metals. While you would think that it would be the perfect metal for all fine jewelry, it does have one flaw in this regard - it is a brittle metal and can easily break or crack when used on its own. Instead, rhodium is used to make the metals in jewelry stronger through a plating process. It strengthens metals like gold and silver and helps prevent against scratches. Rhodium plating can also enhance the brilliance of a diamond by brightening the dullness of white gold.
When should I rhodium plate my ring?
Rhodium, one of the five platinum metals, coats your diamond engagement ring, wedding band or other fine jewelry with a bright white layer. Your rings or other jewelry should be rhodium plated if you wear them every day to add a layer of strength and brightness to your ring. Any metal can be plated with rhodium for different affects. You should consider rhodium plating if you want your gold or white gold to appear a brighter, more brilliant silver color. This is especially true of white gold. Since 24 ct. gold is a natural yellow color, it is mixed with other metals, such as nickel, to create white gold. Because of the mix, the color is sometimes a dull silver or contains a yellow tint. Rhodium plating can brighten this dull silver color in your white gold rings. For your yellow gold rings, rhodium plating will cover the yellow, turning it into a bright silver color. Although less common, even platinum rings can be rhodium plated for a brighter silver color. For diamond engagement rings, wedding rings or anniversary rings, rhodium plating can make your diamonds pop with brilliance.
How long does rhodium plating last?
Although many believe rhodium plating is permanent, the truth is that it will eventually wear off and will need to be replated. At Ben Garelick, we use a heavier rhodium that typically lasts 2-3 years. However, the length of time it will take for your rhodium plating to wear off can be as short as 12 to 18 months, and it will depend on several factors:
- Thickness of the plating. Trusted experts like Ben Garelick Jewelers can determine the optimal thickness of the rhodium plating based on the jewelry type and intended wear. For engagement or wedding bands that are worn frequently, a thickness of .75 to 1.0 microns is ideal. It’s best to find a jeweler, like Ben Garelick, that uses a thicker, heavier rhodium and finishes the piece properly to ensure a longer life.
- Type of metal (color) under the rhodium plating. Rhodium plating over yellow gold may only last 6 to 9 months. You’ll notice the yellow coming through on the underneath side of the back of your ring first. While rhodium does not tarnish, you may see some tarnishing on your silver ring when the plating begins to wear off.
- Wear of jewelry. The amount of time that you wear your rhodium plated ring & your daily activiies can factor into how long the plating will last. The more “wear and tear” the ring undergoes, the faster the plating will diminish.
- Body chemistry of the wearer. Sometimes, a person’s body chemistry can cause the rhodium to wear off more quickly due to the skin’s excretions interacting with the metal.
Regardless of how long your rhodium plating lasts, you will not want to replate your ring with rhodium more often than absolutely needed because each time you do, the old plating must be stripped down to the original metal and scratches will need to be removed.
What happens to my diamonds when my ring is rhodium plated?
Oftentimes, our Ben Garelick Jewelers customers are concerned about the impact rhodium plating might have on their diamond or other gemstones. Rest assured we do not need to remove the stones from your ring to “dip” it in rhodium plating. To better understand the process, we’ve outlined the steps that are taken when your ring is plated with rhodium:
- Your ring is electro cleaned on average, for about 3 minutes in a special solution at a high temperature (around 190 degrees fahrenheit) using electric current. This solution will not damage your gemstones because they do not conduct electricity.
- After cleaning, we will rinse all cleaning solution from the ring.
- The ring is immersed in a special high temperature, high electrical current rhodium plating bath for 30 seconds to one minute, taking it out every few seconds to inspect the progress. A special balance of all factors must be kept in order to perfectly plate your ring. This balance is complicated and should only be trusted to a professional jewelry expert that you trust. With each submersion, the brightness increases.
- Once the desired brightness is reached, it is important to stop the process as there is a rapid darkening with each additional immersion.
Could I be allergic to rhodium plating?
One of the many advantages of Rhodium is that is both highly reflective and non-reactive. That means it will not cause an allergic reaction. However, it is important to remember, that once the rhodium plating wears off and the metal(s) that make up your ring are exposed, you may experience an allergic reaction. For example, some people are allergic to nickel and that is a metal commonly combined with gold to create the silver color of white gold.
How much does rhodium plating cost?
The cost for rhodium plating can vary depending on how much rhodium is needed to properly plate the piece of jewelry you are plating as well as the jeweler’s skill level and your desired finished look. For a diamond engagement ring, the approximated cost of rhodium plating can range from $35 to $140. Wider and heavier rings may absorb more rhodium from the solution which could increase the cost. Since your rhodium plating will eventually wear off, many choose to build their engagement rings or wedding bands from a white gold or platinum which is already silver in color and may not require plating as often.
How do I care for my rhodium plated ring?
To keep your rhodium plated ring looking its best, you should clean it with warm water and a mild liquid soap. Use a soft polishing cloth and dry immediately. You should never use any chemicals of any kind such as silver polish, silver dips, or ammonia based products on your rhodium plated rings or jewelry. Rhodium will not tarnish. Don’t brush with a toothbrush, use toothpaste or any kind of abrasive.
Let Ben Garelick Jewelers Protect Your Ring With Rhodium Plating
If you’re thinking of adding rhodium plating to your engagement, wedding or anniversary ring, contact your friends at Ben Garelick Jewelers. Our experts are standing by online or by phone or text to answer any questions you may have. If you’re still looking for the perfect ring, check out our extensive collection. With world-renowned designers like Simon G., Kirk Kara, and Artcarved, you’re sure to find just the ring for her. We also offer custom-designed engagement rings to make your ring one of a kind. We can’t wait to make your ring stand out with rhodium plating!