Behind The Scenes: Rhodium Plating

Behind The Scenes: Rhodium Plating

Posted by on Oct 6, 2015 in Behind The Scenes, Jewelry 101 |

Have you ever wondered how we get your fading white gold ring back to bright white? Or how we turn an old yellow gold ring into a new white gold ring? The process is called Rhodium Plating. Here are some common questions about Rhodium and Rhodium Plating, as well as a short video demonstrating the plating process.


What is Rhodium Plating?

Rhodium plating is when a jeweler takes a piece of jewelry and, through an electroplating process, turns it into a bright, lustrous silver-white color. The Rhodium Plating process has four basic steps:

  1. Polish: First, a piece of jewelry must be cleaned and polished before Rhodium Plating. This insures that the surface is clean and free of any debris.
  2. Electroclean: The jewelry is cleansed in a glass beaker through a process which heats the solution and introduces electricity  with positive and negative anodes.
  3. Water, Acid Rinse, Water: The jewelry is then rinsed in distilled water, rinsed in an acid rinse for activation, then rinsed in distilled water again.
  4. Electroplate: The jewelry is then dipped in the actual rhodium plating where it goes through a similar process as the electrocleaning in order to apply the rhodium to the item. After electroplating, your jewelry is finally bright white!

Check out the short video below for a timelapse version of Rhodium Plating. In the video, we used a yellow gold ring in order to show the true results.

Rhodium Plating Video


What is Rhodium?

Rhodium is a chemical element with the symbol Rh. It is a very rare member of the platinum metals group. Rhodium is a noble metal, resistant to corrosion, and is the most reflective of all metals, giving it the bright silver-white color you see in white gold or rhodium-plated silver. The hardness of Rhodium allows for a degree of scratch resistance, anti-tarnish, and durability. Rhodium is too brittle to be made into solid jewelry, however rhodium plated jewelry is much stronger and looks much brighter than non-plated items. On its own, rhodium is the world’s most expensive metal. Therefore, rhodium is often alloyed with platinum or palladium.+


What Metals can be Rhodium Plated?

Typically, Rhodium Plating is used on gold or silver jewelry. However, it can be used on stainless steel, copper, bronze, and various other metals with proper technology.


How Often Does White Gold or Rhodium Plated Jewelry Need to be Rhodium Plated?

Though Rhodium Plating can help prevent a piece of jewelry from becoming scratched and dull, it will eventually wear off due to skin contact and interactions with natural elements. It is hard to say how long rhodium plating will last. It all depends on the chemical makeup of one’s skin as well as day to day interactions with the elements. All Rhodium Plating will eventually dull after normal wear and tear. Most Rhodium Plating lasts from two to five years, however, it differs with each individual case.



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