Fine jewellers prefer the look of rhodium. Like platinum, it is highly sought after in luxury jewellery because it does not tarnish and it is rare and precious. Many trendy jewellery boutiques like to use sterling silver chains plated with rhodium because they do not tarnish and provide long-lasting low maintenance sheen. The rhodium plating cost can be quite high, adding about $0.50 per gram to the cost of the sterling silver chains. However, the richness of colour and sophisticated look is well worth it.
Stones and Findings carries an array of rhodium plated sterling silver chains by the metre, and also in finished chains, with extension chain already soldered. These work especially well with oxidized Israeli sterling silver pendants, which have a similar sheen from the expensive metal additive that they’ve used in their secret alloy that makes up the rest of the 7.25% of their metal.
The blend of rhodium plated sterling silver chains with gold plated sterling silver creates a dramatic effect. The darkness of the rhodium highlights the sparkle of the gold. By folding in some white pearls or clear quartz crystals, you can create a sophisticated, yet refreshing looking. For more luxurious evening tones, you can mix rhodium with gold and reflect it with champagne and grey pearls. The contrast is as astounding as it will be harmonious.
To make these earrings, click the image.For findings such as earring hooks and jump rings, which are not readily available in rhodium plating, you can create the darker tone by oxidizing bright sterling silver components and brushing them for a pale grey relief. By using a fine steel wool, which you can find in the paint section of the hardware store, you can create a satin finish. Be sure to use “00” or “000” grade fineness steel wool. This will blend in well with the rhodium tone.
Rhodium plated sterling silver chains and findings, like all plated findings, cannot be easily soldered. The hardness and darker coloration of the metal will make it impossible to solder with silver solder. In order to, say, size a sterling silver ring that has been plated with rhodium, you must first strip away the rhodium, work with the softer sterling silver, and then re-plate it. This is a costly procedure, and often not recommended. With chains, it is easier to add silver links, and then re-plate the entire piece in rhodium.
Rhodium plated jewellery is breathtaking. I have pieces that are over 15 years old, and well worn, that have kept their shine and colour. The metal can be polished to a mirror shine. It is no wonder that rhodium is the king of the precious metals.