Rhodium is the silver to white and rare metal that is from platinum group in periodic table and serves as one among the most costly metals. Rhodium is in fact twice the rate of platinum and around three times to that of gold. Rhodium has high reflectivity and it doesn’t really form oxide, when heated.
Many a times, the white gold is plated with rhodium to enhance its reflectivity and make it look more appealing. As rhodium is the noble metal which is inert, it can even withstand corrosion and thus make the jewelry items more durable.
Rhodium is the tarnish resistant member of platinum metal group. As the protective coating, the rhodium finish eliminates the chances of any surface discoloration even when it is exposed to serious environmental conditions. The hardness of the surface of rhodium plating is even the highest of precious metals and so it is resistant to the incidental abrasion or scratching.
Generally the jewelers use small quantity of nickel or palladium to bleach the yellow gold thereby turning it into the white gold.
The problem here is that white gold is more pale yellow and not bright white. But when rhodium plating is done on it, it makes the jewelry more reflective and impressive. This process is known as electroplating and it leaves a kind of protective layer that is about the actual thickness of micron on the standard white gold of 14k. The general term for this process is known as rhodium plating or rhodium flashing.
It is wise to understand that rhodium plating cannot last forever
This plating takes lot of wear such as a ring and might wear away in a span of two to three years while the jewelry that is worn occasionally can be used for ten years or so. You can easily know when the rhodium plating is coming off by having a look at the jewelry piece as the area without plating will highlight yellowish color of original white gold. This discoloration can also take place on un-plated regions and in rare cases; the skin can have reddening reaction to exposed alloy.
Sometimes the silver or platinum jewelry is rhodium plated as well. When it comes to platinum, it is so because the rhodium is little brighter than platinum and so it is utilized to enhance the overall shine. As for silver, it is shinier than rhodium however silver is a softer meal and so can be scratched easily. So the people using rhodium plated silver jewelry trade some bit of brightness and shine for scratch free and longer life.
Rhodium plating can also increase the overall durability, luster and brightness of finish as well. As it is plating, it is important to note that it may wear off in some time. But the time of its wearing off actually depends on the way you use the jewelry and the way you care for it.