For those who prefer a different look from traditional yellow gold, white gold can be the answer. White gold, like all colors of gold is an alloy, or a mixture of gold and other metals. Because the alloys that are added to make white gold are actually grayish in color, white gold is often plated with a metal called rhodium which is very white.
Rhodium was first used in the early 30s to plate silver flatware to keep it shiny without constant polishing. It wasn't really until after the Second World War when advances in technology produced a means of coating jewelry with very thin layers of rhodium, that it became more widely used in jewelry making. From there, it was a quick step to plating jewelry of all kinds. Rhodium is a very expensive metal, and this is often reflected in the price of the piece.
Rhodium is not a very malleable metal so it is never or at least very seldom used on its own in jewelry making. For this reason, you should be skeptical of any item advertised as solid rhodium. For one thing, it would be very expensive, so is not likely to be used on its own in wholesale costume jewelry. It does however, due to its reflective qualities, make your white gold pieces really shine!
One of the best things about rhodium is the fact that it is hypoallergenic so it won't turn your finger green. Another interesting technique that some people enjoy is having an old yellow gold ring plated in rhodium for a whole new look.
One disadvantage of rhodium plating is that it will wear off over time. How long it takes to wear is really a matter of lifestyle and the kind of wear your ring is exposed to. Always try to remove your rings if you work a lot with your hands.
It is not recommended that you clean rhodium-plated jewelry with chemicals of any kind as this can accelerate the wearing off process. A bit of mild detergent and water or a soft polishing cloth are all you need to keep your ring or other pieces sparkling.
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