Rhodium is a silver-like metal that is known for being very light. It has very high corrosion resistance and is also known to be very shiny. Some estimates state that it reflects as much as 80% of the light that hits its surface.
It is not as popular as other precious metals, hence has an unbelievably high demand. The metal has in the past been valued at five times the price of gold, coming only second to diamond. It is an excellent metal that is used especially in plating jewelry because of its very reflective properties.
Silver is a more common metal that is also as versatile and useful as other precious metals. It is commonly used for different purposes, including making bracelets, rings, and anklets.
It is also very reflective and is actually the most reflective metal known to mankind. Both metals are excellent for jewelry, and since they share a lot in common, I have often wondered how to decide what kind of jewelry to buy when it comes to fashionable characteristics.
As someone who wants to buy jewelry and cannot decide between rhodium and silver, what should you consider in making that decision, and what should sway your decision between the two?
Rhodium vs. Silver – Price
The price point is a key consideration that will inform what you eventually go for. For some, money is not a problem, and they can afford either regardless of how expensive the metals are. For others, this is a critical aspect that determines what they go for.
Rhodium is very rare and, for that reason, very expensive. It is so expensive that it is mostly used in coating jewelry and not necessarily used to make the ornaments in totality. For that reason, it is one that you need to be completely sure about when you weigh all the pros and cons in other areas. That being said, jewelry can be an investment, and the more you spend, the more secure you can be in the long term.
Due to its widespread availability, silver is considerably more inexpensive. Silver jewelry may not be as expensive and hence as prestigious as the rhodium, but it is still stunning and can result in very good jewelry on a budget. On the issue of affordability, silver edges out rhodium by some margin, but it all really comes down to you.
Rhodium vs. Silver – Durability
Because rhodium is mostly just used for plating, it is possible that the coating can wear off after some time. This might also depend on the level of responsibility that the owner of the piece of jewelry takes over keeping their jewelry nice and pristine. That being said, rhodium is a harder metal than silver which makes it more scratch-resistant.
Silver will not wear off as easily as rhodium because the piece of jewelry will entirely be made out of silver. Silver scratches easily because it is so soft, so it will show signs of aging much faster than the rhodium. Silver also gets tarnished, unlike rhodium which does not oxidize easily. That means you will have to clean it from time to time.
Rhodium vs. Silver – Appearance
This is possibly the biggest consideration that many people make when deciding what jewelry to buy. It is a deal-breaker for a lot of people when the jewelry they are buying does not look good, no matter how durable it is, or whatever other good features it has.
Although silver is shinier, rhodium, especially when used in plating, boasts a very high degree of luster. This makes it look less dull than just plain silver and hence overall, has a better appearance. This luster also stays for longer than typical silver; hence the piece of rhodium-plated jewelry will look newer for longer.
Silver is more durable in comparison with rhodium plating. The rhodium plating on most metals will wear off after some time, sometimes in less than three years, and with it all the aesthetic benefits. Other than scratching, silver will often retain its lushness even after extended periods of time, meaning it will still look good after a while.
Rhodium vs. Silver – Allergic reactions
Both people with sensitive skin and those without will want to know how good these metals are for their skin. You would not want to risk an allergic reaction to the jewelry you are wearing, albeit just a little. For this reason, you would want to know which one is the safest for your skin.
As a result of not having any nickel, rhodium is hypoallergenic and hence the rhodium-plated jewelry. This means that it will not cause any of the allergic reactions associated with nickel in alloys such as sterling silver which is not hypoallergenic.
In its purest form, silver is also hypoallergenic with no known allergic reactions. It is, however, the case that most people do not like plain silver, especially for jewelry. Because of this, a lot of people will resort to some alloy of silver like sterling silver. Sterling silver has traces of nickel and is, therefore, a potential allergen to the skin.
Thankfully, both have hypoallergenic properties and should be good enough for most people. You would probably just need to confirm if the silver that you are getting is pure silver that has not been alloyed with any other material.
Rhodium vs. Silver – Style and popularity
Rhodium-plated jewelry is very stylish. It works well to mask any shortcomings of other metals and can transform ordinary jewelry and make it look extremely good-looking. It is often even used to coat some types of gold to elevate their beauty.
It is still not as common as silver and is also not very accessible because of its prohibitive price. Many people will not be able to tell the difference when examining both metals side by side, but rhodium is not something that the average person can identify at first glance.
Silver is quite common, and silver jewelry can also be made to look very good. Its color is very distinct, making it a popular color for rings and other pieces of jewelry that look better in muted colors. It is not always as vibrant as rhodium-plated jewelry, but it also gets the job done, albeit with some tarnish.
Silver is very common, and hence very popular. It is affordable, and its value remains relatively the same hence boasts more predictability.
Rhodium vs. Silver – Skin tone matching
The best jewelry is the kind that complements your skin complexion. You should avoid anything that will either disappear or scream too loud in contrast to your skin tone. This way, your jewelry works for you rather than against you in that regard.
Rhodium exhibits a white color and works best for people with skin tones on the cooler side of the spectrum. Coupled with darker outfits, it makes for a very stunning look that reveals poise and exudes grace and beauty.
Silver is a more muted option that works best for people with either warm skin tones or those of a more neutral skin tone. It does not come off as too loud and can complement these warmer skin tones, especially if you do not want something that might get washed out. Be that as it may, the choice of jewelry can also be influenced by outfit, so skin tone is not the only parameter to consider when you are thinking about issues of color.
Rhodium vs. Silver – Plating
Plating rhodium has its pros and cons, and it all depends on what you value. Rhodium is mostly used for plating and therefore has a variety of use case scenarios. Although the plating can wear out, it also means you can always re-plate after a relatively short time and have your jewelry looking new every so often.
Silver will have its usual weaknesses like tarnishing and scratching easily. It might need to be plated to ensure its longevity. Often, sterling silver is re-plated using rhodium to attest to the versatility of the latter and its utility. That being said, there is no restriction about what kind of jewelry you can purchase, and this factor alone isn’t enough to make you neglect one at the expense of another one.
Pros and cons of rhodium
The following are the benefits and downsides of rhodium:
- It is hypoallergenic hence very good for all kinds of skin, and especially sensitive skin
- It is very beautiful, with a shininess that rivals the best on earth
- It is very rare, hence making it very valuable
- You can re-plate your rhodium plated jewelry frequently to make it last even longer
- It is scratch and corrosion resistant making it reliable for long term use
- It is very expensive and is beyond the reach of most people
- Rhodium plating wears off after some time
Pros and cons of silver
Below are the benefits and downsides of silver:
- It is very affordable
- It is hypoallergenic in its pure form
- It does not wear off, unlike rhodium plating
- Expensive compared to other valuable metals
- It tarnishes after a while
- Needs proper care to maintain its aesthetic look
This information can henceforth inform the decision you will make about what kind of jewelry to get. Once you have weighed all the advantages and downsides of rhodium and silver, regardless of what other people say, the choice you make at the end of the day is the right one for you.
As I always say, if it makes you look and feel good, then no one’s opinion matters. The jewelry is your personal property, and you have the right to decide what kind of jewelry you are comfortable getting. No choice is wrong or right per se; it only depends on what you value most and how that jewelry is going to serve you.
Have you had any experience with silver or rhodium, I’d love to hear about your experience in our comment section below.