What is Rhodium plating?
Does white gold discolor or turn yellow over time?
Are all white gold rings Rhodium plated?
How much does it cost to Rhodium plate a ring?
How long does Rhodium plating last?
With the recent popularity of white metals, we are asked similar questions more and more frequently. The answers depends on several factors that I will explain below.
Rhodium plating has been the method of choice to give most white gold items the bright, white look of platinum and nearly all white Gold jewelry items sold in the US market are Rhodium plated.? As explained in our section on White Gold, there are many white gold mixes available in the marketplace all having varying degrees of whiteness which would best be described as a “similarity to platinum” Rhodium is a member of the platinum group of metals and is probably too brittle to use to make rings by itself, but this brittle characteristic makes for a very durable finish or plating for other metals such as white gold.
Rhodium plating on a new ring should last six months to a year until the plating will be noticeably diminished. The actual layer of rhodium applied in the plating process is microscopic (maybe a few microns thick) the rhodium plating will eventually wear off every ring it is applied to.
Typically it is near the bottom of the ring where the loss of the plating will first be noticeable; this is due to the wear and tear on this area of the ring. Conversely, the top area of the ring and areas with diamonds or engraving, etc. will retain the rhodium finish longer as these areas are less prone to the wear and tear. As well, rings with large polished areas will make the inevitable wearing away of the rhodium finish more noticeable.
There are other variables that may affect the longevity of the rhodium finish. Individuals body chemistry, occupational and life style wear and tear.
To properly rhodium plate an item, the item should first be polished and then thoroughly cleaned to the point of being absolutely clean of any dirt, oil or even a finger print which could prevent a nice even plating of the item. After the standard cleaning methods of heated ultra sonic cleaning and steam cleaning, the item should also go through an electro-cleaning process where the surface of the jewelry item is activated by electricity in a heated cleaning solution.
If there are yellow gold elements or areas of the ring such as in two tone rings, these yellow Gold areas will have to be “masked” with a substance ( fingernail polish is popular) so the yellow area is not plated white.
Like anything else, results will vary, especially if shortcuts are taken. If fewer of the above described cleaning steps that are used in the process, the rhodium finish could wear off in the first month.
In the last few years rhodium plating has become a more expensive service to provide as rhodium prices have sky-rocketed to $6000.00 per ounce. Expect to pay between $25.00 to $60.00 for a complete Polishing, cleaning and Rhodium plating of a ring. Two tone designs may be more due to the necessity of masking the areas that are not to be plated.