How Long Does Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Last?

How Long Does Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Last?

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Silver metals shine brightly and it’s no wonder they are worn for fashion. With the sparkle, they can add a sophisticated touch to whatever you are wearing. 

Many pieces of jewelry are made from silver: rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, etc. Sterling silver is almost completely pure silver. However, some alloy metals need some help from something that can give them that fabulous silver-white tone. 

This is the job of a durable and reflective metal called rhodium.

Rhodium plating is a process of electroplating silver-colored metals. It basically adds a layer of rhodium to the surface of other metals to increase their shine, strength, and resistance to tarnishing. This layer provides the jewelry with an extremely reflective surface which is why it is a common plating for jewelry and instruments. 

White gold, palladium, and silver can all be rhodium plated to enhance its silver coloring with a white sheen. If you have a sterling silver ring or piece of jewelry that is rhodium plated, you may be wondering, how long does it last?

Rhodium plated sterling silver lasts for about 2 to 3 years before it needs to be “redipped”. This depends on what the jewelry is exposed to since rhodium can wear down more easily in certain conditions. On average, rhodium plating will last for a few years until it needs to be replated.

Discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston, rhodium is a member of the platinum family. Rhodium was named after its pink compounds and after the Greek work for pink, rhodon. These noble metals can actually cost 10 to 25 times more than gold. It has a high melting point and is more durable and stronger than gold and silver. 

However, rhodium is brittle and can’t be made into jewelry. So, instead it is used to coat other metals to increase their strength and durability.

Silvery white metals like white gold, platinum and sterling silver can all be plated with rhodium. But, eventually it will wear off. After a couple of years, your rhodium plated sterling silver will have to be replated. Of course exactly how long it lasts will depend on several factors: 

  • Your occupation and lifestyle (if it is an everyday piece)
  • How often it is exposed to harsh chemicals like chlorine, household cleaners, etc. 
  • The person wearing the silver’s body chemistry (some people’s skin will wear down the rhodium faster than others will) along with excessive sweating which can wear it down.
  • Excessive abrasion such as it getting scratched often can cause the rhodium to wear off and tarnish the jewelry.

So although it is hard to pinpoint an exact amount of time until it will wear off, in general rhodium plating lasts for about 2 or 3 years. To see the most popular rhodium plated sterling silver jewelry pieces just click here. 

Sterling Silver Multi Pressed Flower Teardrop Earrings

Is Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Durable?

Silver jewelry is go-to for beautiful accessories. But when your silver jewelry goes from its shiny white color to a dull yellowing color, you may wonder what happened? Well chances are that the rhodium plating on the piece has worn away. 

This rhodium plating is used to coat the metal to prevent your silver jewelry from tarnishing. The wearing down of rhodium plating can be due to different factors such as chemicals, a lot of scratches, and even your body’s chemistry or sweat. 

The things that the rhodium is exposed to all play a part in how long rhodium plating actually lasts. We said that this plating will last for a couple to a few years, but since it wears down over time, is rhodium plated sterling silver really durable?

The rhodium plating of silver colored metals is incredibly durable. In fact, it increases the durability of the jewelry. Silver is a soft metal and rhodium is hard. So by plating the piece in rhodium you can reduce the chances of it tarnishing.

Even though you have to replate the rhodium every couple years or so, it is durable and helps to protect the silver. Silver is very soft and if it didn’t have the rhodium layer, then it would get damaged more often than it does with the plating. 

Keep in mind that jewelry that doesn’t see a lot of rubbing or abrasion will last longer than rings or bracelets. When the rhodium wears away from your jewelry, it can leave it looking tarnished (white gold can look yellowed in some places like it did before it was plated). 

If you take good care of your rhodium plated jewelry then it can last longer than just a couple years before needing replated. The rhodium plating is very thin (only.75 to 1.0 microns) so avoiding situations where I can get scratched easily is always a good idea to protect the jewelry. 

If the rhodium plated sterling silver is a ring, then you’ll want to remove it before you clean with harsh chemicals or wear thick gloves instead. Some soap can even break down this silvery layer so be careful with wearing your jewelry in the shower if it is rhodium plated.

If the rhodium plating on your sterling silver needs a fresh coat, then you can take it into a jeweler. The process of plating the piece shouldn’t take too long and it is not super expensive. 

The piece will be cleaned so that no dirt or particles interfere with the plating process. Some jewelers use an electrocleaning process for this reason. Then the jewelry is electroplated with the rhodium for a shiny silvery appearance. 

If you take proper care of your rhodium plated sterling silver, then it will last for longer. Rhodium makes your silver jewelry stronger and tarnish-resistant, and it is very durable and can add a shiny and protective layer to your sterling silver that will last for a few years.

Sterling Silver Diamond Accent Love Knot Pendant Necklace , 18"

Final Thoughts

Rhodium is a very durable metal that is used on silver and white gold to give it a reflective shine and protective layer. Eventually, this layer will be worn down. 

Rhodium plating wearing down can be caused by several factors. Things like scratches, chemicals, etc. can cause the rhodium plating to wear down and over time, your jewelry will start to look tarnished. 

This can be easily fixed by simply plating it again. Rhodium plated sterling silver lasts for about 2 to 3 years until it needs to be replated.

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