Q:

What is rhodium plating?

A:

Quick Answer

Jewelry that is rhodium-plated is coated with a thin layer of the precious metal rhodium to increase shine and prevent wear. Rhodium itself is too brittle and rare for use in jewelry-making, but works well as a plating material.

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Full Answer

Rhodium is the most reflective of all metals and is whiter than chrome, so rhodium plating adds a brilliant shine to jewelry. Jewelry that is plated with rhodium does not tarnish, as rhodium protects jewelry from heat, wear and corrosion. All white gold is rhodium-plated; silver and platinum are sometimes plated with rhodium.

Rhodium is one of the more expensive precious metals in existence, and prices for having a ring coated with rhodium may range between $100 to $200.

Rhodium plating is not permanent and plated jewelry may need to be replated within two years if worn constantly. Other factors that determine how often jewelry needs to be replated are the quality of the plating, its thickness and the color of the underlying metal. Poorly plated jewelry may need to be replated within months. If the rhodium plating on a piece of jewelry incorporates other elements such as nickel, wearers may experience skin discoloration or an allergic reaction as the plating begins to wear away.

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