What is rhodium plating? And how do you clean a rhodium-plated jewel? Here’s what you need to know about rhodium plating and what the differences are with a non-rhodium-plated jewel ♦
How many times have you read that a jewel is rhodium plated, but do not you know what that means? If you are among those (many) who do not know the meaning of the word rhodium, and what the rhodium needs, read this article. It will erases away any doubt about rhodium, but it will also teach how to clean and store jewels treated with rhodium.
What is it
As the word indicates, rhodium plating is a process that is used for jewels and uses a particular metal called rhodium. It is a rare, white, very durable metal. It is often used in alloy with platinum to increase the hardness of that metal. The rhodium is not only very durable, but also used to make other metals more shining. It is, however, very expensive: its price exceeds that of platinum and gold.
The rhodium plating
The jewelery plating consists of covering the jewel with the thin layer of rhodium. The minimum layer thickness is 0.1 micron, the maximum 25 micron. Rhodium is often used to shine white gold and, rarely, silver: it is, in fact, a fairly expensive procedure. The method for plating a jewel is similar to what you use to cover it with the gold: it is a galvanic process. In practice, they use electricity and a bathroom where rhodium microparticles are found, covering the jewel metal with a thin layer. The result is a much brighter metal.
Because rhodium is used
The rhodium is used to make the shiny jewel, but also because it protects metal from corrosion and wear, and preserves its original appearance. Finally, rhodium is usually tolerated by allergic people, for example, nickel that has often been used in gold alloy. The rhodium cover prevents the skin from touching the jewel metal. Of course, if you are not allergic to rhodium …
How to keep rhodium
As we have written, the plating process consists of metal covering with a thin film of rhodium. Rhodium is a durable metal, of course, but with time it all wears off. To keep the the jewel plated longer, and therefore to keep the glitter of the jewel, be careful not to rub the metal against objects that can scratch it. Also, it is not advisable to clean the metal with aggressive detergents. Better a very soft and simple water cloth, or a toothbrush, provided it does not have hard bristles.
You can do it later
If you have a jewel that has a few years and with a matte metal, you can turn to a jeweler to polish the metal with a rhodium. The cost depends (besides what the jeweler wants to collect) from the thickness of the metal that is added to the jewel.