Compare White Gold and Brass Covered Rhodium Rings
I would like to know the difference in white gold and brass covered by rhodium rings. Durability and care of brass covered by rhodium. How can I increase the life of my brass covered by rhodium ring?
There is a vast difference between white gold rings and brass rings with rhodium plate. While both of these rings are plated with rhodium, their long term performance and durability are extremely different.
Here are the main differences between these two metals:White Gold
is an alloy that contains pure gold, nickel, copper and zinc. The higher karat white gold alloys contain higher amounts of gold with smaller amounts of nickel, copper and zinc.
Palladium white gold is made with a mixture of pure gold, copper, palladium and silver – this type of white gold has the advantage of looking the ‘whitest’ and even though it has a soft yellow tone it can be used for lighter pieces of jewelry without the need for rhodium plate. Brass
is a metal that is made from a combination of copper and zinc. There are dozens of types of brass alloys, with various hardness and durability characteristics – but brass for the most part is an extremely malleable metal. One reason why brass is a preferred metal for crafting musical instruments is because of its high level of malleability. Rhodium
is an extremely rare and valuable metal. The Rhodium Plate
that is added to rings is much thinner than the width of a human hair. Rhodium plate on jewelry pieces can be anywhere from around 0.10 to 1.70 microns. (An average human hair is 100 microns thick). Rhodium does increase the durability of the metal it is plated over, but rhodium can only offer so much protection against scratches and dents.
Picture a very thin layer of steel over a wood plank, and a very thin layer of steel over a rubber tire. Essentially, this is how rhodium plated white gold and rhodium plated brass rings compare to one another.
Here is a table which compares brass to the different karats of gold and silver.
I’ve included silver in this table because silver is an excellent affordable substitute to white gold and silver is more durable than brass.
This table compares the specific gravity, density, Vickers Hardness rating and melting temperatures of the metals in question. The Vickers Hardness rating is a measurement of how resistant a metal is to scratching.
From the table you can see the brass has a lower density and weight than the other metals. Brass also has the lowest resistance to scratching.
Brass has a comparable melting point to some types of gold alloys, but while brass has a higher melting point than silver, brass is actually softer than silver – it is more ductile and more elastic than silver, which is also why brass is also a favorite metal for sculpture and artworks.
Even with a rhodium plate, a brass ring will be much more affected by a scratch, knock or blow than the other metals listed here. Brass easily becomes deformed, and because brass rings are generally so very thin they often become bent, dented and scratched just with regular wear – even with a rhodium plate.
Another issue with rhodium plate and brass is that because brass is so inexpensive, and rhodium is so very valuable, the rhodium plate that is placed over brass rings is usually extremely thin – in the 0.10 to 0.50 micron range. Whereas rhodium plate over white gold rings is often in the 0.70 to 1.50 micron range.
This means that even with just a small amount of wear, the rhodium plate will most likely wear off a brass ring in a matter of months – and sometimes in a matter of weeks.
Re-plating a brass ring with a thin rhodium plate that will last at least another 3 to 6 months (if the ring is worn every day) will cost about $30 dollars. Plating the brass with a rhodium plate that will last at least a year (with every day wear) will cost upwards of $100 or more dollars.
Within just a few years, you could end up paying hundreds of dollars trying to maintain the white rhodium plate on a brass ring.
And this is the inherent problem with rhodium plated brass rings compared to white gold rings.
Not only are brass rings more vulnerable to dents and scratches, they have very little value and the very first rhodium plate on the ring is likely to wear off in a matter of weeks if you plan on wearing the ring every day.
As soon as the rhodium begins to wear away too, the brass will quickly begin to tarnish and oxidize. This layer of tarnish has to be completely cleaned and removed before the ring can be re-plated, and because rhodium plate enhances the appearance of any scratches or dents on a ring, any ring with scratches or small dents needs to be repaired and thoroughly buffed before the rhodium plate may be applied.
Because of these issues, re-plating a brass ring can actually cost more than re-plating a white gold ring.
So the final answer to your question:
As brass is so vulnerable to dents and scratches, and the rhodium plate is most likely less than razor thin, the best way to preserve the life of brass rings is sadly by not wearing them.
Save this ring for special occasions only – and replace the ring (if it is a wedding ring) with a stronger Silver Ring
or with a super strong and super affordable contemporary metal ring made with Cobalt
, Stainless Steel
Last but not least, to any visitors considering buying a rhodium plated brass ring – please don’t! To maintain the ring in its like-new condition will cost far more than the ring is worth. These types of rings are a personal pet peeve here at Everything Wedding Rings, because they are a bad deal for couples looking for Affordable Rings
. The rings will not look good for very long (especially if they are worn often) and they cost too much to maintain.
I wish I could offer better news and advice for your ring. Honestly I wish these types of rings were not made or sold because they offer such a poor level of performance, but now that you have the ring the best thing you can do is to avoid wearing it often.
A few other special care considerations that can help the ring to last:
- Remove the ring before performing any activities that could expose the ring to scratches or dents.
- Avoid getting the ring wet.
- Take the ring off when washing your hands.
- Avoid exposing the ring to chemicals and to cosmetic products including hairspray, lotions and soaps.
I do hope this information helps, but feel free to contact us again if you have any additional questions!
Suzanne Gardner Everything Wedding Rings