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What Is Rhodium-Plated Sterling Silver? | Ultimate Jewelry Guide


When it comes to jewelry, there are so many options available to us: gold, silver, solid gold, sterling silver, platinum, rhodium, and many more. And well, if you know your jewelry, you must have heard about Rhodium-plated silver jewelry as well. Rhodium is one of the metals from the platinum group, one of the most expensive ones out there. Even though Rhodium is not optimal for jewelry making in of itself, its properties are perfect for electroplating other metals such as silver, gold or even platinum. To find out more about what is rhodium-plated sterling silver, keep on reading!

Silver is a precious metal known by everyone. But just like gold, silver is also a very soft metal that cannot be used in the making of jewelry on its own. For this reason, pure silver is mixed with another hard metal when creating a jewelry item. This mixture of pure silver with another metal is known as Sterling Silver. Sterling Silver jewelry is a composition of about 92.5% silver and 7.5% of another metal (normally copper) which gives it durability and strength. The downside of sterling silver is the inevitable wear and tear that comes over time, so it has to be taken back to jewelers for polishing from time to time.

What is Rhodium-Plated Sterling Silver?

Since we’ve figured out what Rhodium and Sterling Silver is, let’s see how both these metals are used together to make even better jewelry. A very thin layer of Rhodium is plated on sterling silver through the process of electroplating. When plated onto sterling silver, the Rhodium layer is usually .75 to 1.0 microns thick. This not only improves the appearance of a jewelry piece, but it also makes it more durable!

Is Rhodium Plated Jewelry Good?

Rhodium-plated jewelry is especially good because it makes the metal that it is plated on really durable and tarnish resistant. The only way for the jewelry to tarnish would be due to scratches and/or from excessive wear. It is also great for those who are allergic to metals such as silver or gold. It is also used to hide imperfections in a jewelry piece. You can wear the rhodium-plated jewelry however you like without worrying about damaging it, and that’s why we love it!

How Long will Rhodium Plating Last?

Rhodium plating can last from 3 months to a year, depending on how frequently you wear the jewelry and in what conditions. Since the price of the metal is so high, only a very thin layer of Rhodium is applied to the metal. This means that frequent, repeat electroplating is required to keep the jewelry looking like new. Once the rhodium starts wearing away, you will be able to see the metal underneath, which signals that the metal needs to be re-plated again. There are a few precautions you can take to increase the lifespan of the rhodium plating, such as taking your jewelry off before taking showers, washing your hands & face, or going for a swim. It’s also best to avoid using any rough cleaning solutions or chemicals while cleaning the jewelry so that the rhodium does not wear off too quickly.

Rhodium Plated Bracelet - Bixler
Rhodium Plated Bracelet Before and After Plating

Is Rhodium Plated Jewelry Expensive?

Since Rhodium is a very rare metal, it is really expensive. But we should point out that the price range of Rhodium Jewelry also depends on the metal it is plated on. If the plating is done on either silver or white gold, the cost of the jewelry would be high. The price also depends on the stone used in the jewelry. For instance, if a gold diamond ring is Rhodium-plated you can imagine how much it would cost but if you go with a relatively cheaper base metal and another stone instead of a diamond – the price would be comparatively low. Please keep in mind that a very thin layer of Rhodium is plated on the metal, which means the plating itself would not be that expensive. But due to the short lifespan of the rhodium plating, the cost of rhodium plated jewelry can add up notably depending on how frequently you get it done.

When Is Rhodium Plating Not a Good Idea?

Just like everything in this world comes with both positives and negatives, so does Rhodium Plating. Due to a thin layer of Rhodium being applied, the plating wears off very fast. To counter this, a thicker layer of Rhodium is needed to be plated on the jewelry which has its own disadvantages. Firstly, applying a thicker layer of Rhodium will increase the cost of the plating, thus increasing the price of the jewelry item. Secondly, the thicker layer of Rhodium could change the color of the jewelry and could not have the same brightness of sterling silver which might be off-putting for some buyers. Be smart and only opt for rhodium-plated jewelry that you won’t be earing daily!

READ MORE: What Is Oxidized Silver, Also Known as Blackened Silver?

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