If Rhodium Is Trading at Sky-High Prices, Why Are Rhodium-Plated Items So Cheap?

If Rhodium Is Trading at Sky-High Prices, Why Are Rhodium-Plated Items So Cheap?

As we write today’s post, rhodium is trading at $2,620 on the London Fix. And investors are buying 1 oz. rhodium bullion bars for up to $2,900.

But if you shop online, you will discover that rhodium-plated rings, earrings and chains are selling for $20.00 or less. That is not a typo – they really are selling for surprisingly low prices. What is going on? How can that be?

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What Are the Platinum Group Metals?

What Are the Platinum Group Metals?

Chances are that you only find small quantities of the valuable secondary platinum group metals (palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium) hiding in recyclable items that you think are made only of platinum. How can you tell if these rarer metals are present?

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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?

5 Things You Need to Know about Recycling Platinum-Plated Jewelry

Platinum-plated jewelry has unique properties that are often misunderstood. If you own quantities of platinum-plated jewelry or platinum plate scrap, here is some critical information you need to know about recycling it . . .

1. Platinum-Plated Objects Must Be Refined, Not Reformed

Shown: Jewelry and jewelry scrap containing platinum and other platinum group metals like rhodium that our customers have sent in for recycling and refining.

Shown: Jewelry and jewelry scrap containing platinum and other platinum group metals like rhodium that our customers have sent in for recycling and refining.

Unlike karat gold, sterling silver and many other kinds of jewelry, platinum-plated items cannot be reworked or redesigned. Because the platinum has been applied as a plating, any attempt to heat, hammer or reshape a piece will result in a disastrous failure.

2. Platinum-Plated Rings Cannot Be Resized

Any attempt to stretch them a size larger will result in the same kind of catastrophic failure that we described just above. Plus, platinum –plated rings cannot be cut and remanufactured into smaller sizes. So if you have a number of platinum-plated rings on hand, you need to send them to a qualified platinum refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners for recycling.

3. “Platinum Plated” Can Mean Many Things

It does sound like “platinum plated jewelry” can only be one kind of material. But in reality, platinum can be plated onto gold, silver, and even a soft metal like copper. Obviously, 100 pounds of platinum-plated silver jewelry will be worth much more than 100 pounds of platinum-plated copper items. The only way to know how much your items are worth is to send them for testing at an experienced platinum recycling company.

4. Platinum-Plated Jewelry Can Tarnish and “Turn Your Skin Green”

It is a myth that anything coated with platinum cannot tarnish. If the layer of platinum is too thin, it can wear away and expose the metal underneath. The result? An “untarnishable platinum-plated” piece of jewelry that tarnishes, changes color, or irritates your skin.

5. When You Look at Platinum-Plated Jewelry, You Might Not Be Seeing Platinum

Platinum-plated metals can sometimes be plated with an additional thin layer of rhodium, which is even harder and more corrosion-resistant than platinum itself. Sometimes this additional layer of rhodium has not been disclosed by the manufacturer, and the piece will only be labeled “platinum-plated.” How can you tell? You need the services of an expert platinum recycler like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners.

Call Specialty Metals to Learn More about Platinum-Plated Jewelry

Prices for platinum are on the rise, so you need to know all you can about recycling this precious metal. Call us at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

Related Posts:

How Much Platinum Does Your Platinum Jewelry Really Contain?
Six Traits of the Best Platinum Refiners
Platinum Sterling: What You Need to Know about this Precious Alloy
What Happens when Platinum Meets Rhodium?
An Invitation to Jewelers, Pawnbrokers and Other Jewelry Professionals to Partner with Our Precious Metals Refinery