Rhodium Plating = Risks & Care

by Maria
(Dallas TX)

Does rhodium plating cause or make the ring band thinner? Is there something the jeweler should keep in mind during the plating process so as not to affect the thickness of the band? I've had my rings rhodium plated and I've noticed that the bands are much thinner than they used to be.

Hi Maria,

The rhodium plate process itself should not affect the thickness of the band. Rhodium plate is - in most cases - applied to a ring by the electroplating process. During this process, the ring is placed in a warm bath with electrical currents which charge the metal portion of the ring - the rhodium then 'sticks' to the charged areas of the ring. Keep in mind too that the rhodium which is applied is an extremely thin layer - less than the width of a human hair.

Before rhodium plate is applied, rings are usually steam cleaned and then polished. Rings must be absolutely clean before the rhodium plate is applied and polished/buffed to remove any scratches because the plate will actually enhance the visibility of small scratches and nicks on the rings.

It is possible that the polishing and buffing which takes place during each rhodium plate application could - with time - remove molecules of metal from the band, particularly if the band is made from silver or gold.

Silver and gold rings which are worn daily tend to thin a bit - over a period of decades - too because of the molecules of the metal which eventually wear away from normal wear and tear. But again, it usually takes decades for any noticeable change in a ring's thickness to occur.

Really, to protect the thickness of the band the ring should not regularly undergo intensive polishing and buffing - but most rings do not, unless they have experienced a lot of scratches since the last rhodium plate was applied.

So, if the rings were already somewhat thin to begin with - and then underwent intensive polishing and buffing regularly for a few years - it is possible that the rings might appear noticeably thinner...possibly due to both normal wear which is more evident on thinner bands and to repeated polishing and buffing.

To keep the rings from thinning out even more, try to protect the rings from taking on additional scratches between each rhodium plate application. You may want to talk with your jeweler too and ensure that the rings are buffed and polished with a little extra TLC during the next rhodium plate application.

And do write back if you have any additional questions about your ring!

Suzanne Gardner
Everything Wedding Rings

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