Buying Tips

The Truth About Rhodium Plating & Rhodium Plated Jewelry

Briana Briana 11 Nov 2019 195

Have you seen jewelry that is listed as being rhodium plated? Or perhaps have you been shopping and had a jeweler offer rhodium plating that as an option? You probably have, but if you don’t know what that means, you might end up making the wrong decision!

When purchasing jewelry, you already know that you have a ton of options. From the type of metal, to the gemstones, the overall design, there are a lot of choices to make.

Especially when you are shopping for something important like an engagement ring, you want to make sure you are making the right decision. From the right look to good durability, you need it to be perfect!

There are both pros and cons to rhodium jewelry, and based on your specific situation, you can decide if the pros outweigh the cons or not.

But first, what is rhodium? Why is it used in jewelry? We are answering all these questions and more. Once you have all the information, you will be able to decide with confidence if rhodium plating is right for you.

For some people, it is a perfect solution, but for others, it does not give them what they want with their jewelry.   

What is Rhodium? 

Let’s start with the basics; what is rhodium? Rhodium is actually a metal! It is part of the platinum family and is incredibly durable and hard.

It is also a metal that does not tarnish or corrode. Sounds like a pretty great metal right? It is in many ways! However,, there are some downsides as well. 

First off, rhodium is not, easily shaped and can be very brittle. For that reason, it is not a good option to use as a metal in jewelry all on its own. you won’t find a solid rhodium ring for example.

Rhodium plated jewelry
Rhodium jewelry, source: SparkOfSilver

In fact, a solid piece of rhodium would break similarly to glass. You definitely don’t want that with your jewelry! 

In addition to being brittle, rhodium is also incredibly expensive. The price can fluctuate quite a bit, but it can reach prices that are nearly 25 times more expensive than gold! Rhodium is consistently more expensive than silver, gold, and platinum, mainly because it is much rarer. 

In fact, it’s only found as a byproduct when mining for other precious metals like platinum. Its cost will always be connected to the cost and demand for things like platinum, making it not a great metal to work with on its own. 

So, now we know that rhodium is a precious metal, it’s durable, hard, doesn’t tarnish, but is hard to shape and is incredibly expensive. You can’t use it on its own to make jewelry; but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used at all.  

Rhodium Plating

Rhodium does have a great place in the jewelry world, it is just in a different way than you find with other metals like silver and gold. Instead of using rhodium all on its own, jewelers will do what is called rhodium plating.

It is also sometimes referred to as rhodium flashing or rhodium dip. As the name suggests, the rhodium is used to plate or cover another metal. 

Remember what we said earlier about rhodium being incredibly hard and durable? That’s what makes it so great for plating other metals!

It is a great way to increase the durability and shine of other jewelry. Rhodium is highly reflective, so it can help brighten up jewelry and give it that high shine appearance that a lot of people are looking for. 

Before and after rhodium plating
Before and after rhodium jewelry plating, Source: PaveAndBroome

Because rhodium is so hard, it is also a great way to protect your jewelry from scratches. This is especially great if you are considering doing this with say an engagement ring or other pieces of jewelry that you plan to wear all the time.

Scratches are bound to happen, but getting the piece rhodium-plated can guard against that and ensure your ring will always look incredibly shiny and scratch-free!   

Another great benefit of rhodium jewelry plating? It is safe for everyone to wear; even those with sensitive skin!

Rhodium is free of all allergens, including nickel, which is a common allergen that impacts people’s skin that is often found in things like white gold.

If you do have sensitive skin, rhodium plating is a great option for you to consider.

Rhodium Jewelry Downsides 

At this point, you might be thinking that rhodium is the right choice for you. And that’s great! It is a wonderful option for many people. However, there are a few downsides to be aware of before making a final decision. 

The main downside to rhodium plating is that it is in fact just plating. As you know with, other types of jewelry that are plated, the plating will wear off over time.

The same goes for rhodium plating. It will need to be re-done from time to time if you want to keep the jewelry piece looking in top condition.

Rhodium plating over time
Rhodium plating over time, source: MaterialGrades

How frequently you will need to have the jewelry re-plated depends on a few factors, mainly how often you wear the jewelry. 

For something like an engagement ring, you may find that every year you need to get the ring re-plated.

For other jewelry, say a necklace or pair of earrings that you only wear from time to time, you may find that several years go by before you feel the plating has worn off. 

Another factor to consider is any gemstones present in the jewelry you want to be rhodium plated. If you have hard gemstones like diamonds, sapphires, or rubies, there won’t be a problem.

However, as you get into softer gemstones, there is the potential that the rhodium plating process could damage the stones.

You would need to speak with whoever is doing the plating and discuss any potential risks before making a final decision.   

Making the Right Decision

Now that you know all the pros and cons of rhodium plating, how do you make the right decision?

Here are a few main points to consider that should help you come to the decision that is right for you: 

Metal type: Rhodium is a white metal, meaning that whatever gets plated will have that appearance. It is a great option for covering white gold or silver, but not a great option if you have a yellow gold or rose gold piece of jewelry.

While you could have those rhodium-plated, keep in mind that the plating would change their color to the white like appearance and that as the plating wears off, it will be much more noticeable if a yellow or rose gold hue is showing through. 

Maintenance: If you want a piece of jewelry that is virtually maintenance-free, you won’t want to deal with rhodium plating.

The plating will wear off and you will have to have it redone from time to time. If you do not want to deal with that, consider going with a metal like platinum that will remain shiny on its own.

Cost: Rhodium plating is a way to save money compared to buying either platinum or a higher quality white gold. Different jewelers will have different policies, so be sure to check what yours is before committing.

Some may do an initial rhodium plating for free, but additional platings will cost money. Some will always offer free plating as long as you purchase a maintenance plan with them. Or, some may not offer it and you have to ask for, it.

However, the cost should be less than the cost of a pricier metal. 

Appearance: Not only do you have to consider that rhodium is a white metal, you also need to keep in mind that it is highly reflective.

If you prefer more vintage-looking jewelry, such as vintage necklaces or vintage rings, you likely will not like the high shine of rhodium. If you are looking for something highly reflective and shiny, this is a great option for you.

Safety: If you need to wear hypoallergenic jewelry, rhodium jewelry plating is a great option, as rhodium is entirely nickel-free.

However, do keep in mind that in your situation you will want to re-plate the jewelry on a fairly regular basis so that any potential nickel in the metal underneath doesn’t come through and irritate your skin.     

Shop Rhodium Jewelry 

Want to get an idea of what rhodium plating looks like on jewelry? Check out these pieces below for some inspiration! 

1. BERRICLE Rhodium Plated Band

BERRICLE Band with Rhodium Plating

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This wedding band is perfect for showing off the real beauty of rhodium. The smooth, wide band lets you really see just how reflective and shiny rhodium is!

If you want a simple, sleek wedding band, not only is this design perfect, the rhodium plating will help ensure it stays looking that way and doesn’t get ruined with a bunch of scratches.

Best of all, we like that this is simple enough that it would work as either a woman’s or a man’s wedding band! If you like minimalist jewelry, this is a perfect option to consider. 

2. Black Bow Jewelry Co. Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver & Diamond Bracelet

Black bow jewelry Co. Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver & Diamond Bracelet

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Here is another awesome jewelry piece that we just absolutely love for showing off the beauty of rhodium.

It’s also a great example that you aren’t limited to just rings when it comes to rhodium plating; you can do that with just about any piece of jewelry!

This is a super sleek, modern bracelet bangle that is perfect for anyone who enjoys unique, yet minimal jewelry.

It is technically in the shape of a snake, but it is abstract enough that even if you don’t really like that idea, you will likely still love this bracelet.

There are 3 simple diamonds on the bracelet as well, which is a combination that goes so well with rhodium plating; both are so shiny, it’s just so gorgeous to look at! 

3. Tara Trinity Knot Cufflinks – Made in Ireland

Tara Trinity Knot Cufflinks with Rhodium Plating - Made in Ireland

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Rhodium plating is a great jewelry option for pieces for both women and men. A great example for men, these cufflinks! They are rhodium plated which we honestly think is such an excellent idea.

Cufflinks can pretty easily get scuffed and scratched up, so having the rhodium plating will help keep them always looking in prime condition.

This is great for any man who has to wear suits for work and always wants to look professional and put together.

The trinity knot is such a cool, manly design; any guy would love to wear these cufflinks! 

3. AINUOSHI 6 Carats Cubic Zirconia Rhodium Plated Diamond Wedding Ring

AINUOSHI 6 Carats Cubic Zirconia Rhodium Plated Diamond Wedding Ring

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Looking for a typical female engagement ring? Here is a great example of what rhodium plating looks like combined with diamond; a super feminine, shining ring!

Because all of the diamonds are actually cubic zirconia which is, a great diamond alternative, the ring is much more affordable, but it doesn’t look it.

The rhodium plating also makes the ring look much more expensive, and we think this is a great option for anyone who cannot afford or simply does not want to spend the money on a real diamond.

You can actually also get this ring in rose gold instead of the rhodium plating, but with a ring like this, we think the rhodium looks much better. Just see how it shines! We love it. 

4. Black Bow Jewelry Co. Flower Ear Climber Earrings

Black Bow Jewelry Co. Flower Ear Climber Earrings with Rhodium Plating

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‘Ear climber’ earrings became incredibly popular a few years back and have stayed popular and trendy since then.

We still think they are an excellent accessory option and are a great way to wear a more bold earring without worrying about hurting or stretching out your ears with a traditional chandelier earring.

This simple flower design is gorgeous, and the rhodium plating is sure to make these earrings shine in a beautiful way.

Again, the combination of the cubic zirconia and rhodium is seen here again and we cannot get over how beautiful this combination is!  

5. The Bling Factory Braided Rope Chain Necklace or Bracelet

The Bling Factory Braided Rope Chain Necklace or Bracelet

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Finally, you don’t even need gemstones present when you’ve got rhodium plating, it can shine all on its own, just like it does with this gorgeous rope chain necklace.

While you could definitely add a pendant to this necklace, we actually like it all on its own. We think this would look great with either a low cut top or dress, or a high necked one in a dark color to give some nice contrast to the chain.

We like that this is a bit of a thicker chain; it gives more surface area for the rhodium plating, ensuring you’ve got a nice, reflective chain to wear, perfect for anyone who loves minimalist pieces.

If you do want to spice it up, you can always add a pendant to it. We love the versatility of a chain like this!   

Finally…

Rhodium plating is a great way to increase the shine and durability of your jewelry. In many situations it is a great option, especially when dealing with engagement rings.

To ensure high shine, reduce scratches, and increase overall durability, rhodium plating is great.

Keep in mind that you will have to re-plate your jewelry from time to time and that it works best with other white metals like white gold and silver.

Be sure to understand all of the pros and cons of rhodium plating before making your final decision. With all of this information in mind, you can easily make the choice that is right for you! Good luck!