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Substitute/Alternate/Replacement for rhodium plating on jewelry

adv.:    Discover the choice made by manufacturers
nationwide for high quality jewelry plating & finishing

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(to provide context, hopefully helping readers more quickly understand the Q&A's)

Rhodium is a shiny bright precious metal, and is widely used as a jewelry plating material because it does not tarnish, while offering more 'bling' than any other material. It also has industrial uses.

But rhodium has astounding price volatility! Although it's often around the price of gold (a little less or a little more), other times it can cost 12X as much as gold, and it might go even higher.

The reason for this volatility is that rhodium is so rare that it's simply impractical to mine it. Rather, it is a minor byproduct from platinum mining & refining. So, when platinum demand is high, there can be a relative surfeit of rhodium and its price may drop a little bit lower than gold; but when platinum production drops down, there simply is not enough rhodium available and its price can skyrocket to outrageous levels.

So, despite the very attractive properties of rhodium, users are rather constantly looking for alternatives :-)

Current question and answers:

Q. Hello,
Is there a good alternative to rhodium plating? Because of price of Rhodium my plater does not use it anymore, and I need the white color and also hypoallergenic attributes of Rhodium for my skin contact jewelry (Needs to be nickel free too)
Thank you!

Claudio Martinez
- Fullerton, California
April 11, 2022

A. Hi Claudio. White bronze plating can replace the nickel plating, but the major issue is that only precious metals are tarnish-free. If you feel that you must get away from rhodium, perhaps the most promising "replacement" (there is no real replacement for rhodium) would be to do bright silver plating followed with a good organic corrosion inhibitor and/or clearcoat. I don't think you'll find platinum or palladium aesthetically satisfactory.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
April 2022

⇩ Related postings, oldest first ⇩

Q. This is a technical question about rhodium plating. I am presently using rhodium over nickel over copper-clad fiberglass (G10) material. These units are being used for slip rings for military purposes. Silver-graphite brushes contact these units in order to produce a rotating electrical conductor. I have no problem with these units except that the rhodium plating process is getting more and more expensive. I do not know if this is due to the material costs or that fewer places are plating with rhodium.

Do you have any knowledge or can you point me in the right direction about hardened silver or gold surfaces that might be easier and less expensive to plate?

Robert M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Northridge, California , USA

Hardened Silver Plating in place of Rhodium

Q. I am a PCB manufacturer that has been asked by a customer to find a replacement finish to our current plating of Rhodium/Nickel. The customer likes the hardness of the Rhodium, but it is too expensive. We've tried Hard Gold, but it's not hard enough. Someone mentioned Hardened Silver as a possible replacement. Apparently, hardened silver is plated on coins but I can't find anyone who plates this metal to print circuit boards. Furthermore, the only specification that I can find for silver (QQ-S-365) makes no reference to the hardness.

Does anyone have suggestions on another possible alternative to Rhodium ... or does anyone have any additional information about Hardened Silver and where I can find it? Thank you in advance!

Dara Ferris
PCB Manufacturer - Newbury Park, California, USA

simultaneous replies

? The answer is going to depend on the properties your customer is looking for in the finish. How hard does the finish need to be? Does it have to be solderable? For how long? Over the whole surface, or just edge connectors? Get more specific and the answers get easier.

James Totter
James Totter, CEF
- Tallahassee, Florida


A. Dara,

Hard Gold on PCB's attains a hardness of 200 and more vickers. Alloys are Gold-nickel and Gold-cobalt.

Silver though hard will not exceed the conductivity and hardness provided by gold. Tarnish resistance is another issue where silver is not a preferred route.


Asif Nurie [deceased]
- New Delhi, India
With deep regret we sadly advise that Asif passed away on Jan 24, 2016

A. You can try Palladium plating. Hardness is 250-300 DPH (Rhodium=900 DPH). According to Fischer, Weimer: Precious Metal Plating [on on Amazon (adv.)], Teddington 1964. Good luck!

Goran Budija
- Cerovski vrh Croatia

Q. I am a rhodium plater, and am looking for a substitute for rhodium plating on precious jewelry as rhodium prices have gone up substantially. It's not economically feasible to do rhodium plating on jewelry. Kindly suggest if you have any information about the same.

Belel Sukumar
jewelry platers - Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

A. Hi Belel,
Some of the fine jewelry manufacturers have switched to Palladium. It is not as hard as Rhodium, and has the lowest melting point of any of the Platinum metals. The appearance as plated is very similar to Rhodium. One manufacturer had mentioned they were getting good results with a decorative Palladium bath called Pallaspeed D, that was supplied by Technic. I looked up the London PM fix, and Palladium closed today at $368.00 per troy oz. I'm pretty sure most decorative baths run at about 10-12 grams per gallon Pd metal, and are pretty simple to control. Good Luck!

Mark Baker
process engineer - Malone, New York

Q. Hello,

I am in the jewellery manufacturing industry and I would like to know what is the most effective technique and solution for rhodium plating jewellery? Specifically, if anyone has knowledge about the techniques used in China?


Puja Kothari
Manufacturing manager - Mumbai, India
March 5, 2008

A. I seriously doubt that there is any "standard" technique or standard brand of rhodium plating solution used in China, Puja. Can you please be a little bit less vague about what you are seeking? Are you trying to find a cheaper brand of plating solution? Have you seen a particular article made in China that you are trying to duplicate? Are you encountering spots or discoloration and feel that your Chinese competitors are not? It is easy to conjecture that there are "magic bullets", but usually there aren't and it's more about sweating the details. Please get back to us with more specifics. Thanks.

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
March 5, 2008

A. Hi There,

I believe you want to know about the Chinese jewellery that looks like Rhodium plating and prices are cheap; the cheap jewellery is plated with either white bronze or Palladium flash, and the raw jewelry itself is of good finish and the polishing method is also excellent.

Hop this helps you ... Caio

praveen kumar
Praveen Kumar
plating process supplier
Mumbai, India

March 7, 2008

Q. Dear Sir,
I make gold product for jewelry and I plate 14k white gold with rhodium.
The price of rhodium went up recently 3 times, I'm looking for an alternative solution to replace the use of rhodium and get the same result.

Sam Louis
plating shop employee - Los Angeles, California, USA
March 12, 2008

simultaneous replies

A. Rhodium is rhodium, nothing else has the same properties of hardness and oxidation resistance. Indeed it's these special properties, plus scarcity, that make Rhodium worth $10K/oz today.

Platinum or palladium might be "good enough", but they aren't cheap either.

Elestroless nickel would be a poor, but cheap, substitute.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina
March 14, 2008

A. Look into white bronze. It will polish well, but will not have the ultimate shine that you now have.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida
March 14, 2008

A. Why not replace the gold with brass and keep the rhodium?

If the customer really wanted gold they would not want it white.

geoff smith
Geoff Smith
Hampshire, England
March 19, 2008

June 26, 2008

Q. Hello,

I'm Mauricio Escobar from Colombia. We own a jewellery shop and routinely do rhodium plating on 14-18K gold jewelry.

With the price of rhodium reaching U$10.000- plating with this metal is becoming way too expensive.

It hits my mind, why not replace the rhodium with platinum (at about U$2.000 per ounce)?

Since I bet I'm not the first person to think of such an easy money saver, I would like to know what are the caveats and why the industry is not turning this way.

Should I invest my time into researching further into the matter?

Thanks in advance for your help, and I hope a discussion can be started on the subject.

Mauricio Escobar
Jeweler - Medellin, Colombia

A. Hi Escobar,
Please do not waste your time even for thinking that Platinum will replace Rhodium in the field of jewellery plating. This I say on the aesthetic look.
You may consider giving a flash of palladium or better a one micron coat of white bronze and a flash of rhodium on top of it.

t k mohan
T.K. Mohan
plating process supplier - Mumbai, India
June 29, 2008

Multiple threads merged: please forgive chronology errors :-)

Problem replacing Rhodium with Platinum

July 22, 2008

Q. We are using UMICORE PLATUNA N1 for plating on gold jewelry. because due to high cost of rhodium we use as a alternative of rhodium...but while plating with PLATUNA N1 we face a problem of Brown shad, sometime dull and gray effect.. so please tell me any best solution for avoiding this problem.... and any chemical brightener to add in PLATUNA N1..

Thank you...

Sujal Dhakan
Plating shop - India

A. Hi, Sujal. You are using a proprietary process so you should be seeking guidance from the supplier of that solution.

Yes, rhodium prices are astronomical at times; but platinum is not rhodium, doesn't look like rhodium, and perhaps your expectations for the substitute process are simply too high? Review the other postings on this thread for alternate ideas. Good luck!


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
July 22, 2008

Why is rhodium plating so expensive?

Q. Hi,

I came across a site which was selling rhodium 500 ml solution for around $300. I believe this can be used to plate 300 rings --that's equivalent to $1 per ring. Then why are we charged $50-$60 for plating our rings.

Sena K
- Mumbai, India
April 2, 2019

A. Hi Sena. I think your question might be rhetorical, so I'll answer it rhetorically by asking how much your plumber charges to replace a 50¢ washer or your auto mechanic charges to replace a $2 oil filter.

If your calculation is correct that $300 of plating solution can plate 300 rings, a plating shop would certainly charge you $50-$60 apiece if you shipped them 300 rings to plate. Time is money, labor is money, cleaning & polishing takes time, bookkeeping is costly, and dealing with the public one item at a time is costly. The going rate for rhodium plating might be $50-$60 ... but you can probably find it for less if you spend several hours of your time shopping. What's a couple of hours of your time worth? :-)

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
April 2019

A. Hello Sena, today's rhodium price was $3050.00 per troy oz. With the manufacturing charges and adders the supplier charges, you are looking at over $100 per gram. That half liter bottle you saw for $300 would have less than 3 grams of rhodium metal in it, which would not be sufficient to plate 300 rings. As Ted said you are paying the going rate nowadays. Just wanted to give you an idea of the high cost of rhodium. Best Wishes.

Mark Baker
Electronic Plating - Winston Salem, North Carolina USA
April 4, 2019

Q. Can anyone please suggest alternative to Rhodium plating.
We provide plating to our customers, base metal would Brass. So what could be best and inexpensive substitute to Rhodium at the same time maintaining the Bright white finish.

Can we use Palladium over brass after Nickel plating. Will Palladium turn black soon.

Ashish Agarwal
- Kolkata West Bengal
August 11, 2020

Q. Dear Sir
I want to replace a brightener with rhodium for the electroplating of silver. Rhodium is very expensive.
Thank you.

Mahdi jamshidi
- Hamedan/ Iran
April 12, 2021

A. Hi Mahi. Indeed the cost of rhodium has become outrageous again, 15X the cost of gold as of today.

We appended your inquiry to this thread about rhodium substitutes. But if it's a matter of keeping silver jewelry bright, it can also be coated with organic or other clearcoats as well as metal platings. You can search the site for "silver anti-tarnish" to see a dozen or more detailed discussions on the topic.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
April 2021

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