In today’s post, I will be taking a break from diamonds and instead looking at the precious metals that hold and protect them in your jewelry. Although precious metals are strong, they require care and maintenance over time so you can keep them looking their best. Read on to learn more about precious metals, what happens to them as they age, and how you can keep them looking their best.
Metals with rhodium plating
Rhodium is a transition metal that is used to plate several jewelry metals, including white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, and sterling silver. By “plate”, I mean that the rhodium is used as a coating or shellac for the metal; it is not part of the actual white gold or sterling silver alloy.
Why plate precious metals with rhodium? First of all, it acts as a kind of shellac for softer, more malleable metals such as yellow gold. Metals that are plated with rhodium are stronger, harder, and more durable.
In addition to its strengthening effects, rhodium prevents the natural oxidation and discoloration that occurs in precious metal alloys. Despite its name, white gold is still naturally yellow. This means that when its rhodium plating wears off, it will start to fade back into a yellow hue.
When should you get your jewelry re-plated?
The general timeframe for re-plating jewelry is every 3-5 years. However, this all depends on the amount of wear and tear your jewelry experiences. In turn, your jewelry’s usage depends on your profession and lifestyle.
In my experience, people in the medical profession often have the most wear and tear on their jewelry, especially when it comes to wedding bands and engagement rings. You’d think that people in a profession that requires frequent hand washing and being around chemicals all day would just leave their wedding rings at home.
Be that as it may, lots of doctors and nurses will tell you that having to re-plate their jewelry more often is a necessary evil. Wearing their wedding jewelry often helps people in the medical profession avoid awkward conversations on the job. You’d want to advertise your marital status, too, if you met hundreds of strangers every day and wanted to avoid unwanted romantic attention!
Platinum and patina
When it comes to platinum jewelry, you should expect a patina to develop over time. A patina forms when the other metals in the platinum alloy oxidize, strengthening the metal and giving the platinum jewelry an antique, vintage style. Don’t be afraid of the term “oxidize” here – think copper, not rust. Unlike the oxidation of white gold, most customers love the look of platinum jewelry with a patina.
Skin sensitivity and hypoallergenic metals
Something important to consider when choosing a precious metal is whether or not you have skin sensitivity. If you have never owned a yellow gold, rose gold, or sterling silver jewelry before, try wearing some of a friend’s or family member’s to test your skin for reactions.
Many people that are allergic to gold or sterling silver jewelry are actually allergic to the nickel that is alloyed to the precious metal. If you’re allergic to nickel but you love to wear gold, it is possible to find gold jewelry that is alloyed with something other than nickel. However, keep in mind that the gold will not be as strong.
Hypoallergenic metals such as platinum, palladium, and cobalt are safe choices for people with skin sensitivity to gold and sterling silver. Platinum is usually the go-to choice for people that know they have reactions to nickel in precious metals.
The purer the platinum, the safer it will be, and at Ritani we do not sell platinum that is under 90% pure. We sell platinum that is up to 95% pure, which is the purest there is on the market.
Where should you look for jewelry re-plating services?
If you have a piece of jewelry that needs re-plating, visit any one of our free in-store preview jeweler partners, located all over the United States.
Caring for your precious metals is a crucial part of keeping your jewelry looking its best. It would be a shame to invest so much money in a piece of fine jewelry, just to have the least expensive component – the metal – cause lots of hassle and possibly an allergic reaction. When it comes to precious metals, a little bit of maintenance goes a long way.
What’s your favorite precious metal? Do you have any platinum jewelry with a gorgeous patina? Feel free to share photos, comments, and any additional questions in the comments below!