All about Rhodium, the Other Precious Metal

Just about everyone knows the basic facts about gold, silver, and even platinum. But if you mention rhodium to most people, they’re apt to say, “Oh yes, it’s another of the precious metals, correct?”

Shown: the periodic table symbol for Rhodium, element 45, which is very valuable and can be recycled and refined by Specialty Metals.

Those people are right. Rhodium is indeed one of the precious metals. And “precious” is the right word, because rhodium is trading at nearly the price of gold on the London Fix. But there’s a lot more information you should know about rhodium too – information that can help you refine this “other” precious metal for quite a lot of money.

Here’s a primer of useful information about rhodium.


What’s the history of rhodium?

Portrait of William Hyde Wollaston, who first extracted Rhodium from ores containing platinum and palladium in 1803.

Portrait of William Hyde Wollaston, who first extracted Rhodium from ores containing platinum and palladium in 1803.

In 1803 a British scientist named William Hyde Wollaston used a chemical process to extract rhodium from ores that also contained platinum and palladium. Because the metal is reddish in color, it was named rhodium from the Greek word rhodon, which means “red.” For a long time, the metal wasn’t widely used, but about 100 years after its discovery, it found its way into laboratory devices that measured high temperatures. Rhodium’s “big break” came in the mid-1970s, when rhodium-containing catalytic converters were first used to reduce the pollutants in automobile exhaust emissions. Since then, the demand for rhodium – both new and recycled – has remained strong.

Is rhodium an element?

It is. It’s element 45 on the periodic table.

How rare is rhodium?

Rhodium is one of the rarest elements. It is estimated to make up only 0.0002 parts per million of the earth’s crust. The largest known concentrations of it are in the Ural Mountains in Russia, in South Africa, and in Ontario, Canada. Because rhodium is both scarce and expensive to extract from ores, its value is almost certain to remain quite high.

What are rhodium’s unique properties?

Rhodium is hard, chrome-like in appearance, and very resistant to corrosion.

What is rhodium used for?

Until recently, rhodium was used extensively as thin plating on jewelry. But because the process of rhodium plating creates large quantities of acids and other noxious byproducts that must be discarded, it seems that the age of rhodium plating is on the wane. The demand for rhodium for automotive catalytic converters, however, is not about to lessen. That demand, coupled with the scarcity of rhodium in nature, helps assure that you can continue to receive high payouts for rhodium that you recycle using a top precious metals refiner like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners.

How much is rhodium worth?

Rhodium is currently trading for about $1,415/troy ounce on the London Fix. For comparison, gold is trading at around $1,300 (give or take the day!), and platinum for about $1,428.

Where can I find rhodium that I can recycle?

If you have 500 or more automotive catalytic converters, we can profitably recycle the rhodium that they contain, as well as their palladium and platinum. In addition, here are some other rhodium-containing items that can return high value to you…

  • Platinum-rhodium alloy mesh, wire, sheet, rods, foil, and tubes
  • Platinum-rhodium thermocouple wire
  • Lab ware containing platinum group metals, including laboratory crucibles, evaporation dishes, electrodes, tongs, loops, and mesh screens
  • Rhodium and rhodium-plated rings, watches, and other items of jewelry

Want to Know More?

If you own any of the rhodium-bearing items that are described in today’s post, call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344. We want to help you recycle the rhodium that you own. And we know that you will want to convert their value into cash.

Related Posts:

How to Eliminate the Middleman and Make More Money from Your Used Catalytic Converters
What Precious Metals are Inside Catalytic Converters and What Are They Worth?
Non-Automotive Catalytic Converters Contain Precious Metals Too
Smarter Recycling: Don’t Overlook the High Value of Noble Metal Thermocouples
What Happens when Platinum Meets Rhodium?