Rhodium Information

by: Samuel Colt Farley

Rhodium is a lustrous, silver-white noble metal. It is the rarest and most valuable of the precious metals.

what is rhodium used for

Where Does Rhodium Come From?

Most rhodium comes from South Africa, where it is extracted from platinum ores along with other precious metals such as gold, silver, palladium and platinum. Due to its rarity, which is an estimated 0.0002 parts per million in the earths crust, rhodium is never mined for itself and is found as a bi-product of mining other precious metals. 

rhodium properties

Characteristics Of Rhodium

Like other noble metals such as gold and platinum, rhodium is resistant to corrosion and oxidation. It takes a very powerful acid to dissolve rhodium, and only dissolves completely while it is in a powdered form. It’s a relatively hard metal, rating a 6.0 on Mohs hardness scale, which is just one point below that of quartz. It also has a very high melting point at 1964 °C. Because of rhodium’s high melting point, hardness, and brittleness (as well as it’s rarity), it is almost never used exclusively to make jewelry. However, rhodium’s mirror-like brilliance is more spectacular than almost any other metal, so it makes a fantastic plating.

What Is Rhodium Plating And How Is It Used?

Rhodium plating is the process of applying a very thin layer of rhodium to materials. This thin layer provides durable protection along with exceptional brightness. A dazzling coat of rhodium on a ring often makes diamonds look bigger and better due to the highly reflective surface.

Most white gold jewelry nowadays is rhodium-coated because of the beautiful lustre it provides. However, because it is just a plating, it will eventually wear off and need to be re-plated. How long the plating lasts depends on a few factors. First of all, it depends on how much wear the piece of jewelry receives. Rings suffer a great deal of wear, whereas earrings or a brooch typically experiences much less. Secondly, the quality and thickness of the plating is important. A specialty plating shop will typically provide a far longer-lasting layer than the backroom of a disreputable jewelry store. Finally, the fading of the coating can be more apparent if the underlying material is a vastly different color. High-quality white gold with a high-quality rhodium plate will last a long time because the thinning of the plating won’t be immediately apparent. A slightly off-color ring plated in rhodium will show wear more quickly.

what does rhodium plating mean


With all this in mind, the rhodium plating on your ring should definitely last longer than a year, with 2-3 years to be expected. Despite rhodium being sometimes 1000x more valuable than gold, plating a ring is a relatively inexpensive process. It can vary depending on the quality of the rhodium, the size of the piece, and other factors, but is typically around $60 – $120. Even being so affordable, it is not advised that you plate your ring annually! The process involves stripping off the old plate and removing scratches, which can wear down a ring prematurely.

Rhodium plated jewelry is often some of the brightest and most stunning available. The shine it provides, as well as the value of the metal itself, appeals to many people, but by being a plating, it can wear down and expose the metal underneath. Fortunately, as we mentioned, the plating process is relatively inexpensive and only needs to be done every few years. Some people even find the exposure of white gold through a rhodium plate to be quite attractive!

Sue Fox

Love You Tomorrow was founded by Sue Fox, a jewelry and wedding enthusiast from New York. Her father, Simon, was a jewelry appraiser, whose family had deep roots in the mining industry. Sue grew up schooled in the different properties of gems and metals, as well as in the care and appraisal of jewelry. She was most fascinated by how different gems, materials, cuts, and settings could be put together in endless combinations to make thousands of unique pieces of jewelry. Best of all, each piece was distinct in its purpose and design to match the personality of the wearer. Love You Tomorrow began as a passion project in 2016. This was around the time when many of Sue’s friends and family members were getting married. Knowing her expertise, they often sought out her advice on wedding and engagement rings. The blog started out as a place to house Sue’s now in-demand knowledge. Her first posts were buying guides for diamonds, roundups of her favorite ring recommendations around the web, and practical tips about choosing the right gemstone for you. It became apparent pretty quickly that the most common visitors to her blog were couples in the market for wedding and engagement rings. Since rings were only one item on an engaged couple’s to-do list, Sue also began to receive inquiries about how the perfect rings would fit into the rest of the whole wedding picture. Since then, Sue’s vision for the blog expanded to become a one-stop shop for other resources on weddings in general. Today, Love You Tomorrow is a wedding blog that features not just Sue’s expertise on wedding and engagement rings, but also insights from her “Wedding Party”, a team of wedding experts and enthusiasts who write guides, recommendations, and tips for happy couples looking to tie the knot. Sue is now currently based in Carmel-by-the-Sea on the Monterey Peninsula in California. She lives with her husband Jess, and their three dogs, Sleepy, Dopey, and Doc.

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