All white gold needs rhodium plating. It is this plating that gives white gold the ultra white colour which we love to use in jewellery.
White gold doesn’t naturally exist. Pure (24ct) gold, which we obtain from mining, is in fact yellow in colour. White gold is essentially a manmade metal. To be more specific, white gold is an alloy of yellow gold. White metals, such as nickel, silver or palladium are combined with yellow gold. The result is an alloy with a yellowish tint. Rhodium plating is applied to this alloy to give it the desired whiteness.
Rhodium Plating: List of frequently asked questions
1. What is rhodium?
Rhodium is a white metal belonging to the precious platinum family. It is rare, silvery-white in colour and resistant to corrosion and aggressive chemicals. It is because of these properties that it is used in the process of turning gold into white gold.
2. What is the process of Rhodium Plating?
Rhodium plating is a process whereby rhodium is deposited onto the surface of a metal using an electrical process. Using chemistry terms, the process can be explained as follows:
The surface of the metal needs to be perfectly smooth, clean and free of contaminants to enable the plating to bond effectively to the outside edge of the metal. Therefore, before the plating process can begin:
The durability and strength of the plating depends on two things:
3. Is Rhodium Plating permanent?
No. The plating is not permanent. It fades with wearing. For this reason, the process needs to be repeated.
4. How often does it need to be reapplied?
This depends on how often the jewellery is worn and thus its wearing.
The base colour of the white gold also plays a factor. If, for instance, the base has a really yellow tinge, the gold colour tends to come through quicker. For this reason it does not make sense to rhodium plate pure yellow gold.
5. Can I rhodium plate my ring with diamond or precious gemstones?
Yes. Diamonds or gemstones do not benefit from plating. For this reason they are temporarily painted over with masking lacquer. This lacquer protects the diamonds or gemstones and avoids rhodium being deposited on them. The lacquer is easily removed when the plating process is completed.