Best Jewelry Rhodium Plating: 10 Surprising Things to Know
rhodium plated ring with diamond

Rhodium plating adds a very thin layer of rhodium to a precious metal creating a very shiny ultra-white color and increasing durability, light and luster.

You deserve the best!  And that means jewelry that shines, with clear, live color.  One way to get that is by touching up any sort of jewelry with a process called rhodium plating. Girl, you’re here because you want to learn more, so let’s not waste time.  Here are 10 things you (and tell all your friends) need to know about rhodium plating!

1. What is Rhodium?

If you’ve ever seen a cheesy sci-fi movie and the spaceships and the suits the aliens wear are all a super-shiny silver, that’s exactly what rhodium looks like. It’s a futuristic dynamo of an element. It comes out of the ground in various-sized little chunks that are as hard and sturdy as they are shiny.

rhodium ore nugget

Rhodium ore nugget - Image by RHJPhtotoandilustration via Shutterstock

Not only is the element rhodium extremely reflective of light, but it resists corrosion, and that’s one of the reasons rhodium plating exists in the first place.

To give an idea of how powerful rhodium is, it gets used in airplane engines! It’s also implemented as a finish for search lights, not to mention mirrors. Rhodium plated jewelry is as indestructible as, well, an airplane engine, yet it’s the shine that your homies will notice.

2. What is the Process of Rhodium Plating?

Rhodium plating means putting a thin coating of rhodium (or a "rhodium dip") on any piece of jewelry ( rings, ring bands, pendants, or bracelets) using an electroplating process. Rhodium plating (also called rhodium flashing or rhodium dip) is frequently used on white gold jewelry (white gold rings).

Here’s the skinny on how gold plating happens. First off, the jewelry has to go through a serious cleaning. That is crucial. So then, it gets dipped into the hot, rhodium solution (also called molten radium solution).  Then, the electroplating goes down—this just means electricity zaps the rhodium plating into place, keeping it where it needs to be.

3. How Thick Should the Rhodium Plating Be?

The rhodium plating goes on roughly one micron thick, though in some cases it can be as thin as about 0.8 microns.  You probably know that a micron is a tiny tiny amount of size—consider that a human hair is 70 microns in diameter.  I know you want to get your money’s worth, but plating on  jewelry can’t be thick and pasty like paint. That’s not elegant—you’re elegant!

4. Why Should I Get My Jewelry Rhodium Plated?

That’s the question isn’t it, smarty? Our first destination on the path to the answer will be appearance. Basically, when silver or gold rings or other jewelry fade, a slick rhodium plating really returns their luster. In fact, you can even rhodium plate rings or other jewelry in their newer stages, just to make them extra shiny. Remember, rhodium is super reflective, and that means sparkle when it applies to fashion jewelry.

rhodium plated rings before and after wear and tear

Image by Foxfinejewelry

But there’s another stop on our tour of benefits of rhodium plated jewelry. That would be the durability of the ring.  A ring that has been rhodium plated won’t tarnish.  Why? Because rhodium doesn’t tarnish.  So there you go. Also, because of its general durability, a nice coating of rhodium will protect your jewelry and add to its life.

5. What is the Cost of Rhodium Plating?

Generally, that depends on the type of bling.  Strange though it may sound, gold is about half as expensive as silver, coming it at around $65-$75 dollars.  Silver will usually run you about $120-$130.

6. Can I Rhodium Plate a Yellow Gold or White Gold Piece

Yellow gold is fascinating.  While it is found naturally, yellow gold used in actual jewelry is generally not 100% pure.  However, it is more pure than other colored golds that are considered alloys. Because of that, it can be vulnerable to getting scratched or damaged.

That’s why yellow gold is a good candidate for some rhodium plating.  This kind of protection can keep an alloy from damage due to its softness.  Keep in mind, though, that a bit of fading in jewelry rhodium plated will cause trouble: a yellow color will start showing with the slightest fading. Therefore, when you plate yellow gold (or white gold for that matter), you’re signing up for having to update it regularly.

7. Should I Rhodium Plate Sterling Silver Jewelry?

The main priority here is the level of bling you want.  Sterling silver, especially when brand new, has a decent shine to it, like most white metals.  But it’s not uncommon for modern guys or gals to want even more bling.  Once you plate sterling silver with rhodium, you get a cool white glow that you won’t get otherwise.

In addition, you’re going to get more durability after plating just like you would with any other metal (white gold for example).  That’s one of the main benefits of plating.  There isn’t a lot in the way of drawbacks either.  As some of the rhodium plating wears off, you won’t have the same color problems as you would with gold.  Instead, the exposed parts will only tarnish a bit.  That’s not ideal, but fixing this at home with store-bought products is easy. 

8. Will Rhodium Plating Affect Gemstones?

Gems don’t conduct electricity, so the electric current that puts the plating on the piece won’t do any harm.  Other than that, everything is all gold, pun intended.  The plating actually protects the metal, so don’t fret about it at all.

9. Is Rhodium plated Jewelry Safe to wear?

No, it will kill you instantly. Just kidding. Let’s get serious—I know you want to know whether it’s hypoallergenic. It is, darling! It’s hypo-hypoallergenic. That means it won’t screw up your skin in any way shape or form.  No rashes, no nothing, just joy!

10. How Long Does Rhodium Plating Last?

Rhodium jewelry lasts quite an awful long time, depending on how you treat it.  If you take it off when hand washing or when doing athletic or physical activities, you can make the plating last longer.  It can last roughly two years, though you may have some fading after a year or two.  Some fabulous jewelry owners take their pieces in for a touch up in plating when needed.

Rhodium Plating FAQ

Q. Is Rhodium Plated Jewelry Good?

A. Well, if it’s good piece of jewelry then it’s good. If it is plated with rhodium it will have a nice shine to it and will be durable.  Sounds good to me.

Q. How Long Does Rhodium Plating Last?

A. Rhodium plating tends to last about two years.  After that it will need a touch up or at least a partial re-plating.  Before that time there can be a bit of fading.  The farther the original color is from the plating, the more it will show through.

If you’d like to make it last longer, be  sure not to expose the jewelry to harsh chemicals. Also, take care of the jewelry and don’t wash your hand four or five times a day with the ring on.

Q. Which is Better Rhodium Plated or Sterling Silver?

A. Rhodium plated silver jewelry is better overall. That’s because it carries with it the boost in durability.  In terms of looks, if you want maximum shine, go with rhodium plated. If you put a plating of something shiny on something, it will make it shiny.  It’s just that simple. However, some people prefer a more quaint look in their silver, and that would come from sterling.

Q. Does Rhodium Plating Wear Off?

A. One of prices of choosing rhodium plating process is that it’s not permanent. Oh, yes, dear friends, unlike gold vermeil, rhodium plating does eventually wear off. After roughly a year, there will be some wear.  If you have a silver piece of jewelry, it will be hard to see the wearing. But if it’s gold, you’ll see the original color underneath a bit more.

But here’s the thing, fly readers. When you’re holding court in a club or at a party, don’t let people get in there to see your jewelry closely enough to know. Protect your space and stand your ground!

Q. Can you shower with rhodium plated?

A. It may not be such a great idea.  This is not pure rhodium! Water won’t destroy the plating immediately, but it will wear it down over time. But keep in mind that if the luscious plating on your jewels is exposed to shampoos and after shaves and similar products, it will get worn off a lot more quickly. Just say “no.”

Q. Is Rhodium Plating Worth it?

Well, that depends.  If you don’t mind having a touch up (rhodium flashing) as needed, you’re fine.  If you feel that paying for a touch up is a no-no, or if some of the original color showing through will upset you, it may not be such a great idea.  Springing for white gold or other metal with your desired bling may be better. Gold plated jewelry could suffice.

Q. Why is Rhodium So Expensive?

Right?  How come everything you really want costs so much moooooney? It’s not fair.  Well, it’s a matter of supply and demand.  Rhodium is a precious metal and isn’t abundant enough to be truly cheap, beside the fact that it takes a lot of labor to pull from the ground.  Also, the auto industry is demanding it a lot now (just like microchips) and that doesn’t help.  When you need a rhodium plating done, get an admirer to pay for it! The rhodium plating cost will be for you, no cost at all! But you’ll have all the bling.