GOLD VS. RHODIUM



As anyone in the jewelry business will tell you, gold and silver rhodium are two of the most popular precious metals used in making jewelry. They're both beautiful, durable, and have a long history of being associated with wealth and luxury. But what are the differences between these two metals?


1. JEWELRY DESIGNS



Gold is often seen as the more traditional of the two, and it's certainly the more well-known. It's been used in jewelry for centuries, and its warm hue is instantly recognizable. Gold is also a very soft metal that can be easily scratched or dented. However, this also makes it easy to work with, so gold jewelry for women often has intricate designs.


Rhodium is a bit more modern and is known for its bright, white color. It's also much harder than gold, so it's more resistant to scratches and dents. Rhodium is also hypoallergenic, so it's a good choice for people with sensitive skin. However, because it's so hard, it can be difficult to work with, so you'll often find rhodium jewelry with simpler designs.


2. METAL COLOR



When it comes to looks, gold and silver rhodium are both lustrous and eye-catching. However, there are some key differences in their color.

 

Pure gold has a warm, excessively saturated yellow gold color, whereas rhodium is a cool silver. Rhodium is also significantly brighter and more reflective than gold.


We do not recommend plating yellow gold in rhodium unless you want to turn your gold jewelry silver. A natural whitening effect will occur when plating yellow gold in rhodium, and the extreme brightness of rhodium can give gold a lifeless appearance, so beware.


Over time, the rhodium electroplating on all gold jewelry wears away naturally, and the gold base begins to show through. For this reason, the gold base is frequently bleached and made white by combining it with other metals before the rhodium electroplating occurs.


Some manufacturers will use an overly thick layer of rhodium to prevent this. However, this only delays the inevitable and can make the jewelry more susceptible to cracking and breaking.


Other manufacturers recommend replating your jewelry every few years to keep it looking new.


3. LUSTER



Rhodium has a high luster, which means you can easily polish it to a bright, silver-like finish. This makes rhodium a popular choice for jewelry and other decorative items.


Gold's luster, on the other hand, is more muted. While you can polish it to a bright shine, gold's luster will never have the same brilliant, mirror-like finish as rhodium.


4. PRICE DIFFERENCE



The price of rhodium per ounce is, on average, $ 13,900 per ounce. Gold is currently trading at around $ 1,8500 per ounce. So, the current price of rhodium per ounce is over 5x greater than the market gold value.


Why is rhodium so expensive now? Rhodium is much rarer than gold. In fact, it's one of the rarest precious metals in the world. Rhodium is also more difficult to mine and extract from the ground.


Now, why gold is valuable: Gold value is based on a few factorsGold is a valuable resource because it doesn't corrode or tarnish, has a very low reactivity to other elements, is non-toxic, is scarce but not too rare, has an attractive bright yellow color, and is highly malleable perfect for shaping into jewelry.


5. USABILITY



Gold and rhodium are both often used in jewelry, while gold is often utilized as the main metal; rhodium is popular as a plating material.


WHAT RHODIUM IS USED FOR:


This is because rhodium is durable but brittle. Thus it may show cracks easily and lose its form. However, it is a very good metal for coating. A rhodium-coated layer is a great reflector of light.

Rhodium on jewelry increases the luster and beauty of the finish. A rhodium-coated layer guards the interior metal against scratches and damage. The rhodium plating process is like putting a new coat of paint on your car. The layer of rhodium on jewelry fills in any small scratches and protects the metal from rusting or corroding.


WHAT GOLD IS USED FOR:


On the other hand, pure gold is too soft to be used in jewelry. That is why it is often combined with other metals such as copper or silver to increase gold's hardness. These alloys change the gold color from a an overly intense yellow to rosy and whitish tones while increasing gold's hardness. This makes it ideal to use as a metal base for jewelry.


6. RARITY



Compared to gold and silver, rhodium is a far more valuable precious metal.


Because it is so rare, the material rhodium in jewelry is highly sought after. Rhodium comes primarily from South Africa and Russia, meaning buyers will have to pay a premium for it.


So, where is gold found? Gold is more abundant worldwide, so gold is more affordable than rhodium in jewelry use. The top gold producers in the world include China, Russia, Australia, United States, etc. Despite being abundant, gold is still a costly commodity.


7. HYPOALLERGENIC PROPERTIES



One of the properties of rhodium is that is 100% hypoallergenic. This means that you will not have any allergic reactions to this metal. Rhodium for jewelry is also a good choice if you have sensitive skin as it is gentle on the skin.


On the other hand, gold is not hypoallergenic and can cause skin reactions in some people. However, if you are allergic to nickel, you may be allergic to gold, as it often contains nickel.


8. DURABILITY



The properties of gold make it too soft for everyday wear, so it is alloyed with other metals to create a more durable metal. The most common alloying metals are copper and silver. Alloying metals with a higher percentage of gold are typically more resistant to tarnishing than those with lower gold content. However, alloys with a higher percentage of gold are more likely to bend and scratch.


Likewise, pure rhodium for jewelry use is too brittle. It is also challenging to work with because it shatters easily. Rhodium is often alloyed with other metals such as copper, iridium, or ruthenium.


However, rhodium makes an excellent choice for plating because it is extremely durable as a plating metal. Rhodium-plated jewelry will not tarnish and is more resistant to scratching and bending than pure gold.


9. RHODIUM PLATING VS GOLD PLATING 



Gold and rhodium-plated jewelry is a more affordable alternative to solid gold or rhodium jewelry. Gold plating is when a thin layer of gold is applied to another metal, usually brass or copper. Rhodium plating is when a thin layer of rhodium is applied to another metal, usually sterling silver.


The main difference between gold and rhodium-plated jewelry is the metal base. For gold plating, a plater heats the metal to the melting temperature for gold ( 1,948 degrees Fahrenheit), and then liquid gold is usually applied to brass or copper. In contrast, rhodium plating usually coats sterling silver. Sterling silver is a softer metal, so it is more likely to show wear over time. Rhodium is also a more expensive metal than gold, so rhodium-coated jewelry is usually more expensive than gold-plated jewelry.


Gold and rhodium-coated jewelry are available in a variety of colors. Gold plating is available in yellow, white, and rose gold. Rhodium plating is available in silver and black.


The main advantage of gold plating is that it is a more affordable alternative to solid gold jewelry for women. The main advantage of rhodium plating is that it is more durable and will not tarnish as easily as gold.
The main disadvantage of gold plating is that it can wear off over time, exposing the underlying metal. The main disadvantage of rhodium plating is that it is more expensive than gold plating.


10. JEWELRY HALLMARKS



AMERICAN HALLMARKS:


Jewelry hallmarks are important to know, especially when determining a piece's value. Let's discuss the different hallmarks for rhodium and gold.


Rhodium hallmarks are marks stamped on rhodium jewelry to indicate the purity of the rhodium; the higher the karat number, the purer the rhodium

.

LIST OF RHODIUM JEWELRY HALLMARKS:


24 karat rhodium is 100% pure rhodium. 18 karat rhodium is 75% pure rhodium. 14 karat rhodium is 58.5% pure rhodium. 10 karat rhodium is 41.7% pure rhodium.


What are gold hallmarks? Gold hallmarks are marks stamped on gold jewelry to indicate the purity of the gold. The higher the karat number, the purer the gold.


LIST OF GOLD JEWELRY HALLMARKS:


Hallmarks for gold include 24 karat gold is 100% pure gold. 18 karat gold is 75% pure gold. 14 karat gold is 58.5% pure gold. 10 karat gold is 41.7% pure gold; anything under 10 karats is not considered real gold.


EUROPEAN HALLMARKS:


European and American hallmarks are not the same. In Europe, there are several different types of gold purity marks.


Some countries, such as Hungary, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, require a hallmark. In other countries, such as Italy, mandatory maker's marks are registered rather than hallmarks, which jewelry makers independently monitor.


Even in countries where maker's marks are regulated, the difference between a hallmark and a maker's mark is that a hallmark indicates that the piece was physically sent to a third-party office and tested for purity. Even in countries where the maker's mark is registered, it is still based on the honor system, which requires jewelers to test their own pieces and then honestly advertise them.


FRENCH GOLD HALLMARKS:


In France, hallmarks for gold are mandatory, one of the most easily recognized in the world. All gold jewelry sold in France is tested for metal purity and stamped with an eagle's head, the official hallmark since 1838. These French gold hallmarks indicate that pieces are at least 18k gold, the minimum purity required for assay.


UK HALLMARKS:


In the United Kingdom, one of four Assay Offices places a hallmark on a piece of jewelry. These locations include Birmingham, Edinburgh, London, and Sheffield. Each office has its own logo, which is laser etched into the piece after a scratch test. Symbols included in UK hallmarks, such as a castle, a leopard's head, a rose, or an anchor. These UK hallmarks will appear alongside any purity number marks, or maker's marks added to the piece. Furthermore, the UK required all pieces made before 1999 to be stamped with the date, making it very easy to identify vintage jewelry.


FAQ:


IS RHODIUM BETTER THAN GOLD?


This is a difficult question to answer. Rhodium is often used in jewelry because it is more durable than gold and does not tarnish. However, rhodium is also more expensive than gold. Ultimately, the decision of which metal to use depends on the jewelry piece and the wearer's preference.


DOES GOLD NEED A RHODIUM PLATING?


No, gold does not need a rhodium plating. Rhodium sometimes plates other metals, such as silver or white gold jewelry, to give them a brighter finish, but gold does not require this rhodium treatment and is perfectly ok as is.


IS RHODIUM EVER GOLD-PLATED?


Yes, rhodium can be gold-plated. Rhodium sometimes plates other metals, such as silver or white gold jewelry, to give them a brighter finish; however, rhodium can also be plated with other metals, such as gold, to achieve a color change.


IS RHODIUM EVER ALLOYED WITH GOLD?



Yes, rhodium is sometimes alloyed with gold. Rhodium is a very strong metal and often reinforces other metals. When alloyed with gold, the resulting metal is stronger and more durable than pure gold.


WHAT IS WHITE GOLD PLATED?



Not sure what white gold plated is? Let's break it down. White gold is an alloy of gold and at least one white metal, typically nickel. Plating is a process in which a thin layer of precious metal is applied to another surface. So when you white gold plate something, you're essentially covering it with a thin layer of white gold.


Now that we know what a white gold plate is, let's talk about why people do it. People often white gold plate jewelry or other metal objects because it gives them a bright, shiny finish that looks like platinum or sterling silver. White gold plating also protects the underlying metal from tarnishing or wear.

If you're considering white gold plating something, it's important to keep a few things in mind:


  1. The process is not permanent, so the plating will eventually wear off over time.
  2. White gold plated items are not typically as valuable as solid white gold items.
  3. White gold plated is not the same as Rhodium plated, so be sure to ask for what you want specifically if you're looking for Rhodium plated.



WRAPPING UP



Rhodium is more expensive than gold, but it is also more rare. Rhodium is also hypoallergenic and more durable than gold. However, gold is more resistant to corrosion. When it comes to deciding between gold and rhodium, it really depends on your personal preferences.