What is Rhodium Plating and Why Do I Need It? - Gunderson's Jewelers

You’ve decided on white gold for your engagement or wedding ring. Congratulations! Picking the color of metal used for your ring is one of the most important decisions you'll make-- you'll be wearing this ring for a long time!

White gold is a very popular choice, and for good reason. The icy-white metal goes perfect with diamonds and matches nearly everything.

White gold does require a special process, known as rhodium plating, to keep its finish icy white. Remember, all gold that comes from the Earth is yellow. When casting a piece of jewelry other metals known as alloys are added to the gold, giving the finished piece strength and color. In regards to white gold, those alloys usually come in the form of nickel, palladium, platinum, and manganese. Even then, the completed 'white gold' piece is still often dull brown or gray.

To achieve the icy white finish we all love, a metal called rhodium is electroplated onto the surface of the piece of jewelry.

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What is Rhodium?

Rhodium, a close relative to platinum, is a chemical element (Rh, atomic number 45) that is not only very rare, but incredibly hard and ultra-white. Because of its rarity, it is also quite expensive-- so much so that in jewelry it is only seen as an alloy or as an electroplated finish. Applied as a thin layer over the surface of white gold, it turns what was previously dull into something stunning!

How Often Do I Need Rhodium Plating?

When you buy your white gold ring new, it has already been rhodium plated and finished to a perfect mirror shine. But even though rhodium is a hard metal, the plating will wear and eventually need replacement. You may have even noticed that your ring has started to turn a dull yellow. This is normal!

Rhodium wears at different rates for everyone. There is not one specific cause that makes rhodium wear, either. Just wearing your rings every day creates enough friction that over time, the plating will wear. Not to worry! The professional goldsmiths at Gunderson's Jewelers are able to reapply that rhodium finish to your ring and bring it back to life!

What is the Rhodium Plating Process?

If you've noticed that your white gold ring has started to look dull, the experts at Gunderson's Jewelers are here to restore the finish to its original glory! Here's a simple breakdown to the process:

- the piece of jewelry is examined; all prongs and gemstones are checked for wear.

- the piece is then cleaned and rinsed thoroughly to make sure no dirt, grime, or other materials are left on the surface.

- the piece is then dipped into the plating solution containing sulfuric acid and rhodium sulfate. Electric current is passed through the vessel for up to a full minute depending on the complexity of the item. The electricity reacts with the piece of jewelry and the plating solution, ensuring complete coverage.

- the piece is rinsed with water to ensure all solution is removed from the surface. After being inspected, it is ready to be worn again!

Trust the Experts at Gunderson's Jewelers

We’re happy you chose to purchase your white gold ring at Gunderson's Jewelers. We’re honored to have a rich history of goldsmiths and on-site technicians that can help you with rhodium plating and other repair services. For a comprehensive list of repairs and services that are available at Gunderson's Jewelers, check out our service pages.