Silver vs. Rhodium
Silver vs. Rhodium

The debate between rhodium vs. silver has been around for years. Each metal has its own unique properties, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. So, which is the better choice?

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

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


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.


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.


The more light that metal reflects, the shinier it is. Pure rhodium or rhodium plated jewelry has a high reflectivity rating of 70%, making it very shiny. In contrast, silver jewelry reflectivity rating is 40%.


Because most rhodium is used for plating, it's possible that the plating may wear off with time. With that said, pure rhodium is a strong metal, more scratch-resistant than silver.

Fine silver scratches easily because it is so soft; therefore, it will age much more rapidly than rhodium. Unlike rhodium metal, sterling silver tarnishes. This means you'll have to clean it regularly.


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.


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.


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.


Can you rhodium plate silver?

Yes,  a rhodium plating on sterling silver gives it a bright, shiny finish. Rhodium is a precious metal that is more expensive than gold, so rhodium plating on sterling silver will be more expensive than unplated silver jewelry. However, silver with rhodium plating lasts longer.

Which is better rhodium-plated or sterling silver?

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 on silver is a good choice if you're looking for something hypoallergenic that won't cause any skin reactions. However, if you prefer the look of sterling silver, many options are available that are still hypoallergenic, such as nickel-free silver.

What is sterling silver rhodium plated?

Rhodium is a valuable precious metal used in plating to give sterling silver a more durable, lustrous finish. Rhodium is also used in white gold jewelry to give it a whiter, brighter appearance. Rhodium-plated sterling silver is an excellent choice for those who want the beauty of silver without the need for frequent polishing. A thin layer of rhodium is applied to sterling silver using an electrical current, resulting in a brilliant finish that resists tarnishing.


Does rhodium over sterling silver tarnish?

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.

How often should I clean my rhodium-plated silver jewelry?

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.

How do you clean rhodium-plated silver?

Items or tools needed:

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.


Rhodium vs. silver is a tough choice. Rhodium is a more expensive metal, but it's also a more durable metal and has a brighter finish. The cost for silver is minimal and can also be a quite durable metal.

Ultimately, the choice comes down to personal preference. If you're looking for something more durable and has a brighter finish, rhodium is the way to go. If you prefer the look of sterling silver and are willing to put in more work to prevent it from tarnishing, then sterling silver is a great choice.