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Gold and rhodium are both widely used in jewelry.
While gold can be used as the main metal in a piece and plating, rhodium is used as plating.
Why you may ask?
Rhodium is durable but brittle. Thus it may show cracks easily and lose its form.
However, it is a very good metal for coating.
First, it gives a beautiful shiny look, secondly it protects the surface against scratches and protects the inner metal.
Thanks to these benefits it is widely used in jewelry as in much rhodium-plated silver and white gold pieces.
On the other side, gold is a soft metal and first made into alloys before becoming jewelry.
This changes gold’s yellow color to rosy and whitish colors.
Let’s have a closer look at these precious metals.
Gold is one of the rarest and most expensive metals on earth.
This precious yellow metal has been treasured for centuries all around the world.
It has been used as money and even today central banks store gold in their reserves.
Gold jewelry, like coins and bullion bars, has an investments value.
Especially, in eastern countries like China, India, Iran and Turkey, women save their extra money as gold bracelets and coins for bad days.
Gold is resistant to corrosion, rust and tarnish.
It is a highly malleable metal; too soft to be used in its pure form.
Thus when made into jewelry, it is alloyed with other metals to make it harder.
Gold is typically combined with silver, nickel, copper.
The amount of gold in the alloy is denoted in 1/24s.
100% gold is 24 karat; 14-Karat gold is 53.8% gold.
There are many different karats of gold in various colors.
There are different color gold alloys used in jewelry like yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, vermeil, etc.
These are all obtained by changing the added metal and its percentage.
Check our post on gold for more on this subject.
Although gold and silver receive a lot of attention as precious metals in the jewelry industry, rhodium is a metal with a greater value than even gold.
Rhodium is also particularly scarce as it comes mainly from two countries, South Africa and Russia.
The durability and strength of rhodium are two of its best features.
Unfortunately, this hard metal is brittle: meaning it can crack easily.
This prevents rhodium being the basis for a jewelry.
But it shines as a plating metal.
It gives a lustrous look uniformly covering the inner alloy.
Take white gold for example, you may find unplated and rhodium-plated white gold jewelry.
In the latter, the coating will not only protect the gold part but also keep shining as long it does not wear off.
In this case, a jeweler may easily conduct a re-plating session to restore the jewelry item.
Rhodium re-plating is an easy task you will not have hard time finding a jeweler who can get the job done.
Another benefit of rhodium coating is that it is hypoallergenic.
While this does not guarantee being 100% allergy free; it is highly unlikely to have any undesired effects.
It is very likely that your finger will turn green or experience a unwanted reaction.