Rhodium Plating 101

If you have never heard of rhodium, you are not alone. You may see jewelry with rhodium plating or see rhodium added to certain jewelry styles. Get to know this metal and learn why rhodium can be a great choice for your jewelry.


What is Rhodium?

Rhodium comes from the platinum family of metal. Similar to platinum, this durable metal features a bright white color as well as super strength. To boot, rhodium is very resistant to corrosion and oxidation. You may notice a slightly higher price tag with this metal, given its beauty and resilience.


What Rhodium Does to Jewelry

Without Rhodium, we wouldn't have beautiful white gold jewelry options.. Rhodium plating is what makes white gold white. All gold starts out yellow. Rose gold is created when copper is added to the gold, creating its lovely pink hue. But what is white gold?

White gold is the best of both worlds – gold and rhodium. To create white gold, 10K, 14K or 18K yellow gold is plated or dipped with rhodium, creating a bright mirror-like finish. This is also known as rhodium dipping.

Rhodium is not just white! Rhodium dipping or rhodium plating is also used to add color to sterling silver. Since rhodium accepts color well, it is used to plate sterling silver to give it the look of blush pink rose gold or traditional yellow gold. Black rhodium plating is also a very popular look and you’ll see black rhodium used in a variety of trendy styles. Black rhodium plating on diamond jewelry allows white diamonds to truly shine. Black rhodium-plated gold or sterling silver is often found in men’s jewelry styles but is an up-and-coming look for women’s styles as well.

Eventually, however, the rhodium will wear and the yellow tones of the gold beneath will begin to show. This is why white gold items will eventually need to be re-plated. So, don't worry, this is not a defect; it is simply because of everyday wear.


The Benefits of Rhodium Plating

There are hardly any downsides to rhodium plating for your rings and other jewelry. Major benefits include:
  • Enhanced shine
  • Scuff and scratch resistance
  • Protection against tarnishing
  • Desirable white gold/ platinum color
  • Ability to color and plate sterling silver
  • Hypoallergenic

As nickel allergies become more prevalent, rhodium has increased even more in popularity due to the fact that it is naturally nickel-free.

So, are there any drawbacks to rhodium plating? Maintenance is really the only thing you have to keep up with when it comes to rhodium plating. Over time, rhodium will wear off because the jewelry only has a thin rhodium layer to achieve the plating process. On average, you'll want to have rhodium reapplied every couple of years.

Zales provides repair and replating service for all rhodium jewelry and rhodium plated jewelry. Stop by the Zales store near you if you have any questions and for complete jewelry care.