SILVER VS. RHODIUM: WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?


Silver vs. Rhodium
Silver vs. Rhodium

When it comes to jewelry, silver vs. rhodium can be a tough choice. Both metals can bring a special sparkle to your pieces, but which one is the best for you? Let's break it down and take a look at the pros and cons of each metal. 



The Similarities Between Rhodium And Silver


Both rhodium and sterling silver are precious metals that are used in jewelry making. They are both lustrous, durable, and highly resistant to tarnish. Silver is a more affordable metal than rhodium, making it a more popular choice for jewelry. Rhodium is also used as a plating metal to give other metals a shiny, protective finish.



The Differences Between Rhodium And Silver


Sterling silver and rhodium jewelry have some similarities, but the two metals are quite different. White rhodium is a precious metal used for plating, while sterling silver is an alloy of silver and other metals.



 SILVER VS RHODIUM: THE COST


One difference between rhodium and silver is the cost. Currently, the price of rhodium makes it the most expensive metal, and the price of rhodium is higher than gold or platinum, whereas the cost of silver makes it an affordable metal.


The cost of silver has been on the rise in recent years, but it is still a more affordable metal than other precious metals. The sterling silver cost per ounce is currently $21.82, while the price of rhodium is $13,900 per ounce. The sterling silver cost per ounce is currently $21.82, while the price of platinum is $1,023 per ounce. The price of platinum is still costly, but not compared to rhodium.



SILVER VS RHODIUM: APPEARANCE


Another difference between rhodium and silver is their appearance. The metal rhodium has a mirror-like finish. Rhodium is used for giving jewelry a 'diamond-like' sparkle. Sterling silver has a more muted appearance. You can polish it to a high shine, but it will never be as shiny as rhodium. Sterling silver features a whiter appearance compared to rhodium's darker grayish appearance.



SILVER VS RHODIUM: REFLECTIVE PROPERTIES


Both silver and rhodium are shiny metals; however, they are not equal. The more light that metal reflects, the shinier it is. Thus, pure rhodium or rhodium-plated jewelry has a high reflectivity rating of 70%, making it the shiniest metal, while silver jewelry's reflectivity rating is 40%.



SILVER VS RHODIUM: DURABILITY


A: In general, both silver and rhodium are durable metals. But when it comes to endurance, rhodium & rhodium-plated silver win out. Because of its hard surface, the precious metal helps protect the silver base from scratches, dents, and other signs of damage. Secondly, the rhodium's protective layer helps slow the oxidation process, making it harder for your jewelry's surface to tarnish.


Fine silver (not usable for jewelry wear) scratches easily because it is so soft; therefore, it will age much more rapidly than rhodium. That is why fine silver is often alloyed with other metals to make it stronger. However, unlike pure rhodium, alloyed silver mixes (such as sterling silver) tarnish over time. This means you'll need to clean and take special care of your silver jewelry if you want it to stay looking its best.



SILVER VS RHODIUM: HYPOALLERGENIC PROPERTIES


Because the metal rhodium does not contain nickel, it is hypoallergenic. This means pure rhodium metal will not induce any allergic responses linked with nickel alloys like sterling silver, which is non-hypoallergenic.


Fine silver is also non-allergenic and has no known adverse effects in its purest form. Most individuals, however, dislike plain silver jewelry, especially when it comes to jewelry. Since there are so many brands and types of silver, individuals will often choose a blend of metals such as sterling silver. Sterling silver has traces of nickel and is, therefore, an allergy risk for the skin.


Fortunately, both are hypoallergenic, so they should be suitable for most individuals. So you may just need to make sure that the silver you're buying is pure and not mixed with anything else.



6. PURITY


The purity of the metal is essential because it determines how much wear and tear the metal can take before showing signs of damage.


Sterling silver's purity rating is 92.5%, with the remaining 7.5% made up of copper and/or zinc. This purity makes silver items less durable than alloyed rhodium pieces, so it's not as popular for high-end jewelry use.


On the other hand, rhodium metals' purity rating is 99.9%, making them more resistant to wear and tear. This purity rating is one of the main reasons alloyed rhodium is excellent for high-end jewelry.



7. CLARITY


White rhodium is a member of the platinum group metals (PGMs), including platinum, palladium, osmium, iridium, and ruthenium. Precious rhodium shares many properties with these other metals, including its clarity.
Generally, silver jewelry is not as clear as rhodium. It may have a slightly yellowish hue and often appear cloudy or foggy because silver is a more common metal and is usually alloyed with other metals to make it stronger.



RELATED Q+A


Q: CAN YOU RHODIUM PLATE SILVER?


A: Yes, rhodium-plated silver is a great option! It offers an even more lustrous finish than what’s already available with uncoated silver; rhodium plating is a process that involves coating the metal with a thin layer of the highly reflective, precious metal rhodium. This rhodium coat also provides additional protection against tarnish and wear. So if you want to take your silver jewelry to the next level, rhodium-plated silver is definitely worth considering.


Yes, rhodium-plated silver is pricier than unplated silver jewelry because of the cost of rhodium itself. But it can be well worth it for those who want a long-lasting, beautiful finish that truly stands out.


Q: WHICH IS BETTER RHODIUM-PLATED OR STERLING SILVER?


A: If you're looking for a piece of jewelry that is more durable and will last longer, rhodium on silver is a better option than uncoated sterling silver.


Rhodium is a precious metal and is much harder than silver, so it offers protection against scratches and other signs of wear. Next, the added layer of rhodium gives your jewelry an even brighter finish that won't tarnish or fade easily. Lastly, rhodium on silver is a good choice if you're looking for a protective hypoallergenic layer that will act as a barrier against skin reactions. However, if you prefer the look of sterling silver, many options are available that are still hypoallergenic, such as nickel-free silver.


Q: DOES RHODIUM-PLATED STERLING SILVER TARNISH?


A: Rhodium-plated sterling silver jewelry will still tarnish over time, but it will take much longer than uncoated sterling silver. Rhodium is a very strong metal that creates a protective layer over the sterling silver, making it more resistant to tarnishing and corrosion. Rhodium-plated sterling silver jewelry can last for years with proper care.


Q: HOW DO YOU CLEAN RHODIUM-PLATED SILVER?


SUPPLIES:


-2 Bowls, one for washing and the other for rinsing

-Warm water

-Mild, all-natural dishwashing soap

-Soft-bristle toothbrush

-A soft, clean cotton cloth

-Gentle polishing cloth

-Items to avoid: boiling water, toothpaste, citric acids, alcohol, etc.



Cleaning Steps:


  1. Fill a small bowl with warm water and add some all-natural dish soap.
  2. Place your rhodium-plated silver jewelry into the solution.
  3. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, sponge, or your finger to rub the tarnish off. Make sure you scrub all the metal, even in tight places where the tarnish might be hiding.
  4. Rinse the jewelry. You may also need to repeat this process with a new water bowl and a toothbrush to remove any remaining tarnish.
  5. Place the cleaned jewelry on a soft cotton towel (lint-free) or a microfiber cloth (treatment-free) to dry. Allow the rhodium-plated silver jewelry to sit on the soft, cotton towel for a few minutes or even overnight to ensure that it is completely dry.
  6. After the jewelry is completely dry, store it properly in a compartmentalized jewelry box.
  7. Although polish is not required, if you think it's necessary, use a polishing cloth to improve the brightness of your rhodium-plated silver jewelry. Keep in mind that you should polish along the grain and not against it.



Q: HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CLEAN MY RHODIUM-PLATED JEWELRY?


A: It's a good idea to clean your silver with rhodium plating at least once a month, although you may need to do it more frequently if you wear it often.



WRAPPING UP


When it comes to rhodium vs. silver, there isn't a clear winner that's right for everyone. Silver is much more affordable and stands out from the crowd with its classic sheen, while rhodium is a more expensive metal but offers a brighter finish and higher durability. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide which is the better option for your needs. Whether you go with silver or rhodium, you'll be sure to have a beautiful piece of jewelry that will last for years to come!