What is Rhodium?

June 5, 2017

Rhodium is a member of the platinum family and the most expensive of the precious metals. While prices fluctuate, rhodium can cost up to ten times the price of gold because it is one of the rarest precious metals.

It is a by-product of platinum, the second most costly precious metal. It was discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston, who was refining platinum when he noticed the reddish by-product, which he named rhodium. Rhodium has also been discovered as a by-product of nickel in a mine in Canada.

Rhodium is so rare that it is never mined as rhodium. The cost of a rhodium mine would be prohibitive. Rhodium is produced when platinum or nickel ores are mined. In the course of a year, less than 30 tonnes is produced. This varies by year and depends on the demand for platinum.

It has a remarkable brilliance and an extremely reflective surface. It’s shiny like chrome but whiter and more dazzling. It is also very brittle unlike gold, which is highly malleable. These qualities make rhodium ideal for plating. It is often plated on white gold because of its reflective nature that is a perfect complement to diamonds. Gold is much easier to work with when it comes to making jewellery. It is also less costly than rhodium. Rhodium is more resistant to scratches.

Rhodium plating will wear off, as plating does, but it has an impressive appearance. It is very hard and strong and it does improve the look of the piece of jewellery. If applied over yellow gold, the yellow might begin to show through but re-plating after five or ten years is easy enough and well worth the protection it offers the softer gold.

We also provide black rhodium plating which gives a grey-black finish and is an interesting alternative to normal rhodium plating. There are two options available for black rhodium plating: selective plating, for when you would like only selected parts of your item black rhodium-plated, or an even coating for the whole item. We often use selective black rhodium plating to highlight black stone areas within a set ring piece.

Blue rhodium plating is a vibrant finish and is an interesting addition to the alternatives to normal rhodium plating. The finish we offer is an even blue rhodium coating across the whole item giving an extremely attractive finish.

Selective rhodium plating is a great way to freshen up engagement and wedding rings. A touch up on the claws that hold the jewel in place really makes the jewel stand out. It can also be used to highlight parts on gold jewellery or emphasise details on a display piece.

Diamond bright rhodium plating lays an incredible, ultra bright coating that was previously not possible. Layer thickness up to 5μm can be attained without cracking and applied directly onto silver and gold. Diamond bright rhodium is highly resistant to abrasion, quick to cover, and has superb throwing power.

For a brilliance and sparkle to your jewellery like you have never seen before, try out this new plating service from D&M Jewellery Finishers. A layer of rhodium can transform your gold ring like nothing else imaginable.

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