The jewelry world can be quite confusing for anyone who’s trying to buy great jewelry for the first time. There is an endless variety of confusing pieces. What this means is that you need to be particular about the characteristics of what you are buying if you don’t want to spend your money on the wrong things.
One of the confusing jewelry variety is the rhodium-plated sterling silver jewelry. If you’ve spent some time looking for what would be your best jewelry, you’ve probably come across rhodium-plated white gold. Seeing that there are rhodium-plated silver jewelry pieces is, therefore, something you might want to pay attention to.
For most of us, rhodium plated silver jewelry changes the whole paradigm about silver as it means that you need to understand the mechanics of rhodium-plated sterling silver.
Today, we’ll look at how to clean rhodium-plated sterling silver. But before we do that, let’s first take a look at the basic of rhodium plating sterling silver and its essence.
What is rhodium-plated sterling silver jewelry?
At the base of this jewelry, you have sterling silver, a silver alloy made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper, or any other metal. Ordinarily, sterling silver is identifiable using its hallmark stamp, 925, representing the 92.5% content of silver.
Note that the blending of pure silver with other metals is essential for the hardening of silver; in its natural state, silver is a super soft metal that wouldn’t otherwise be ideal for the manufacturing of jewelry. Alloying reinforced its strength.
But where does the rhodium plating come in from?
For starters, rhodium is a lustrous silvery-white rare earth metal (belonging to the platinum group of metals) that’s been gaining popularity in the jewelry world because of its hardness, durability, as well as its natural luster. The winning and most attractive characteristic of rhodium, however, has got to be the fact that it doesn’t corrode: it doesn’t get oxidized when exposed to the air, and it doesn’t tarnish. These features leave you with bright and shiny metal.
It’s not perfect though – its seemingly perfect attributes are downplayed by rhodium’s brittleness. This brittleness is why you don’t find pure rhodium jewelry around.
What good rhodium offers is its perfect usage in metal plating. It’s also non-toxic.
Understanding Rhodium Plating
Thanks to rhodium’s brittleness, it’s a quite difficult shaping it and even if it’s made into a shape, say a ring, you cannot resize it in case of a sizing discrepancy. To avoid all these and the fact that the ring might break if it falls on the floor, rhodium plating is the next-best usage option for this metal. Interestingly enough, Rhodium makes an excellent finisher.
Rhodium-plated jewelry has the base metals protected from air and the harshness of the environment. Since silver tarnishes when exposed to the air, rhodium plating seems to be the best way of protecting it.
We also need to mention the beautiful natural luster, brightness, and the durability of rhodium on glossy silver. If you are looking for something shiny, but on a budget, rhodium plating on sterling silver is the best way to go.
The other reason why rhodium plating is done on sterling silver is that rhodium is resistant to scratching, it doesn’t lose its shine, and its silvery-white finish is endearing.
With rhodium-plated sterling silver jewelry, the sterling silver jewelry is protected from tarnishing and wearing off too soon.
Now that we have the technical elements of rhodium-plated sterling silver covered, here’s a look at how to clean the jewelry.
Items or tools needed
- 2 Bowls one for washing the other for rinsing
- Warm water
- Mild liquid dishwashing detergent
- A soft cotton towel
- Soft polishing cloth
Items to avoid: chemicals, toothpaste, toothbrush, ammonia-based chemicals, silver dips, or any other abrasives.
- Mix a cup of warm water with a third of a cup of the mild detergent in one of the bowls
- Put the rhodium-plated jewelry in the water-detergent mix, allowing it to soak for 10 minutes.
- Next, start washing your piece of jewelry with your fingers where you gently rub the jewelry piece with one hand to clean it. Don’t scratch it and also don’t rub it too hard. And even when cleaning, make sure that the piece doesn’t sit in the detergent mixture for more than 15 minutes.
- To rinse the piece of rhodium-plated sterling silver jewelry, fill the other bowl with clean bottled or distilled water at room temperature then rinse the piece in this water to relive all the soap residue. Discard and replace the cold rinsing water as many times as necessary, and until you are satisfied that you’ve removed all the residue from the detergent. Be gentle when rinsing too.
- Now dry the piece of jewelry (or pieces). To dry the cleaned jewelry, place it on the soft cotton towel (lint-free) or a microfiber cloth (treatment-free) then pat it dry. To be sure that all the water has dried out, leave the jewelry exposed on the cotton towel for some minutes or even overnight.
- When the jewelry piece is fully dried, store it well. You might consider wrapping the piece in tissue paper, albeit gently, before putting it away in the jewelry box.
- Polishing is optional, but if you see the need, use a polishing cloth to give the piece of jewelry that shines. Remember to polish it along its grain and not against the grain.
If you are still unsure of how to clean your rhodium plated piece well, especially if it has a diamond or ruby, consider seeking help and advice from a professional. It’s quite easy to damage rhodium plated jewelry, and you don’t want to lose all that money in seconds.
Rhodium-plated jewelry will look great for a long time if you don’t wear it every day or if you don’t wear it in abrasive and tough environments.
Rhodium-plated rings will, therefore, wear off faster than necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. Cleaning that piece of jewelry with warm water and a mild detergent, along with a soft piece of cloth is the best way of ensuring its longevity. So, avoid harsh environments and take it to a professional if you are doubtful.