Rhodium belongs to the Platinum group of metals. Rhodium plated sterling silver jewelry will not tarnish whereas sterling silver jewelry without rhodium plating will. Rhodium is very expensive, so only a very thin plate is applied to reduce the amount of metal in the jewel. If not subject to excessive friction and wear, rhodium plated sterling silver jewelry will retain it’s look indefinitely. Rhodium plated sterling silver jewelry is the best type of sterling silver jewelry to buy on the market cause it will never tarnish, looks better than real white gold, and a tenth of the price. Rhodium plated sterling silver jewelry looks like white gold jewelry, because white gold jewelry is also plated with rhodium.
So What is Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Jewelry?
In the 1930’s some silverware makers began to use rhodium plating to produce sterling flatware that would not require frequent polishing. The use of rhodium plating spread to white gold and sterling silver jewelry as a means of creating a highly durable, tarnish resistant surface.
The most frequently used method of applying rhodium finishes is the electroplating process. Sterling silver jewelry rhodium plating involves submerging sterling silver jewelry in a heated bath of rhodium-based plating solution and running an electric current through the bath using the recipient as a cathode or negative electrode. This process causes rhodium from the solution to permanently bond to the surface of sterling silver jewelry.
It is important to be aware that rhodium plating will not last for ever. The lifespan varies and depends upon a number of factors including the amount of wear the jewellery receives, the original thickness of the plating, individual body chemistry, the quality of the plating and other factors. The plating on an item that is subjected to a lot of wear or friction, such as a ring, may only last 6-24 months, whereas a necklace, brooch or earrings which comes in less contact with skin or the elements, or is simply worn less, can retain its plating for ten or more years.
To ensure rhodium plated jewellery lasts as long as possible, keep it cleans with a mixture of mild liquid shampoo and a little water. Do not use any chemical cleaners on rhodium plated items, or ultrasonic cleaners that utilize chemicals. Never use polishing cloths intended for use on gold or silver jewellery, and ensure pieces are not in regular contact with hard surfaces. Non-abrasive, lint free, streak free, microfiber cloths are ideal. Let all makeup and perfume dry before putting on rhodium plated sterling silver jewelry. Wash any make up off rhodium plated sterling silver jewelry with water and store in a protective box to avoid damage and wear when not worn. Carefully looked after rhodium plated sterling silver jewelry will keep its fantastic, highly reflective white finish and you can enjoy its beauty for years.