What is Rhodium?

Posted on Wednesday, December 28th, 2022 in Precious Metals.

rhodium bars

Chances are you’ve heard about gold, platinum, and sterling silver, but did you know there’s another precious metal that’s used just as frequently in fine jewelry (although to a lesser degree)? This metal is rhodium. A member of the platinum family, rhodium is commonly used to whiten and strengthen white gold and sterling silver jewelry. Here are some interesting facts about this durable precious metal.

  • Not only does rhodium whiten a jewelry piece, it also helps provide resistance against everyday scratches and scrapes.
  • Rhodium is hypoallergenic, which means that those who are sensitive to certain metals won’t have to worry about developing an allergic reaction while wearing rhodium jewelry.
  • Sterling silver jewelry is occasionally plated in rhodium to help prevent tarnishing.
  • The thin layer of rhodium that is applied to white gold jewelry can wear off over time, causing the jewelry piece to take on it’s natural yellow-like appearance. We recommend having your white gold jewelry re-plated every few years to maintain that bright white appearance.
  • The metal was first discovered by William Hyde Wollaston in 1803.
  • Sources of rhodium can be found in various locations around the world and is often located where platinum deposits are found. One of the major sources of rhodium is South Africa, which supplies around 80% of the world’s rhodium production.
  • Due to its rarity and complex extracting procedures, rhodium is one of the most expensive precious metals, costing more than both gold and platinum. At its peak in 2021, rhodium’s price per ounce was close to $30,000!
  • In addition to fine jewelry, rhodium has many uses. Some of the most notable uses of rhodium include catalytic converters that clean vehicle emissions and aircraft turbine engines.

If you have any questions about rhodium or how it’s used in fine jewelry, feel free to contact us at 414-276-2457 or info@kloiberjewelers.com.