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What is rhodium plated?

Audrey Sterling silver chunky hoop earrings - Misia Mae

 

Although rhodium plating is used a lot in jewellery making, not a lot of people know what it is.

What is rhodium?

Rhodium is a hard, precious metal, belonging to the platinum group of metals, which is used to plate over Sterling silver and white gold to increase durability and give the ultra white colour. Rhodium is one of the most expensive metals in the world, much more expensive than gold, it can be even 10 to 25 times more expensive than gold. It is also harder than gold and silver. Rhodium can’t be used to make the jewellery on its own, as it is too brittle, but it is great for plating.

Is rhodium plated better than Sterling silver?

Sterling silver tends to tarnish over time. To prevent this, rhodium plating silver jewellery will ensure that the piece is highly lustrous and remains tarnish-free for a long time. Sterling silver rhodium plated jewellery is solid Sterling silver, it just has this extra layer of protection which also prevents from scratching, as rhodium is a harder metal than Sterling silver.

How long does the rhodium plating last for?

Over time, the plating wears off, the white of the silver will come through and the exposed sections may acquire some tarnish but this can easily be polished at home. How fast it wears off depends on the wear and tear, it can take 3 to 12 months or longer. To protect the plating, take off your jewellery for shower, swimming, and washing up, do not use perfume over it, avoid water and any chemicals.

Is rhodium plated jewellery hypoallergenic?

Yes, rhodium is hypoallergenic as it doesn’t contain any nickel.  However, as the plating from jewellery wears off, the underlying metal, like Sterling silver or gold, will come through, making these parts less hypoallergenic.

How to clean rhodium plated jewellery?

Avoid: chemicals, toothpaste, toothbrushes, ammonia based chemicals, or silver dips.

Use: warm water, mild liquid dishwasher detergent, a soft cotton towel, and soft polishing cloth.