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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How Valuable is Platinum-Plated Silver Jewelry?

Platinum is currently selling for more than $1,200 per troy ounce on the London Fix, while silver is going for a little less than $20. So what sense does it make to manufacture jewelry that is made of platinum-plated silver? And why is so much platinum-plated-silver jewelry being sold today?

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

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

Perhaps most importantly, how much platinum can be reclaimed from a quantity of jewelry items that are made of platinum-plated silver? Here are some facts you need to know . . .

Platinum Plating Prevents Silver from Tarnishing or Wearing

Silver is a metal that tarnishes (oxidizes) quickly. It is also soft and easily scratched. Platinum is just the opposite – it is extremely resistant to oxidation and so hard that it resists wear. So plating a layer of platinum onto silver produces an item of jewelry that is both tarnish-resistant and durable. Platinum also has a bright white sheen that makes silver even more beautiful.

Extremely Thin Layers of Platinum Are Used

It only takes a very thin layer of platinum to keep silver untarnished and bright, so extremely small quantities of platinum are used as plating. If you have a large quantity of platinum-plated silver items that you would like to recycle with a qualified silver and platinum refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, how much platinum can you expect to recover? It depends on how the jewelry was manufactured; platinum could represent as little as 1% or less of the metal that you own, or as much as 5%. How can you tell? Call us at 800-426-2344 and we can explain how we test platinum-plated items to determine their value.

Rhodium Can Be Plated onto Silver Too

Rhodium is nearly as valuable as platinum. Like platinum, it is durable and tarnish-resistant. So remember that the bright white plated jewelry that you own could be plated with rhodium, not platinum. Testing in our labs can determine what you have.

Jewelers Are Now Offering to Plate Gold, Silver and Other Items with Platinum

This is pretty interesting. If you take your gold wedding rings or other items to some jewelers today, they can send them out to be coated in thin layers of platinum. The result is that certain pieces of jewelry can be given a new, bright look, and at surprisingly little cost – less than $100 in many cases. I mention this today because it is possible that what you think is an item of platinum-plated silver jewelry could in fact be platinum-plated gold or something else. Only testing in a qualified lab can determine if that is the case.

And Don’t Forget Platinum-Plated Silver Coins Too . . .

It is not uncommon to come across quantities of platinum-plated commemorative coins that are produced by private “mints.” You might even find platinum-plated quarters and other circulated coins that have been marketed as collectables. In most cases, these items contain extremely small quantities of recyclable platinum. But if you want an expert opinion about what you might have, call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344.

Related Posts:

How Much Platinum Does Your Platinum Jewelry Really Contain?
An Invitation to Jewelers, Pawnbrokers and Other Jewelry Professionals to Partner with Our Precious Metals Refinery
Platinum Sterling: What You Need to Know about this Precious Alloy
Five Things You Need to Know about Recycling Platinum-Plated Jewelry

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

Why Recycling Plating Tank Scrap Can Pay You More than You Expect

If you work directly in manufacturing processes that include electroplating, you already know how tank electroplating works. If you’re an executive at a company where electroplating is done, you might not know the details. Here’s a review of the basics, because what you don’t know could be costing your company money that the best precious metals recycling companies can add back into your bottom line.

Shown: Photo of electroplating tank scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for the recycling of precious metals at the best prices.

Shown: Photo of electroplating tank scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for the recycling of precious metals at the best prices.

How Does Tank Electroplating Work?

Two metallic parts are immersed in a fluid called an electrolyte, which contains dissolved metal salts and other chemicals that allow charged atoms to pass through it. One of the immersed metal parts is the anode, which is made of the gold, silver, or other metal that you want to apply to the surface to be plated. The other immersed metal part, the cathode, is the part that you want to be plated.

Once everything is set up, an electrical current is run through the tank. That causes atoms in the anode to dissolve in the electrolyte solution and find their way to the cathode, where they adhere.

That’s the basic info. It’s a simple process that has been used to apply metal platings to everything from jewelry to belt buckles for years.

What Kinds of Metals Can Be Electroplated?

Commonly plated metals include gold, silver, platinum, rhodium, palladium, osmium, and iridium. Alloys can be applied via electroplating too. They include alloys containing gold, cadmium, cobalt, copper, and silver.

Why Do Plating Tanks Get Contaminated?

In an ideal world, the gold or other metal that you want to apply would jump right off your anode, swim straight to what you are plating (your cathode), and stick only there. But in the real world of plating processes, it doesn’t happen quite that neatly. The rare metal that you are applying doesn’t only adhere to the piece you are trying to plate. It’s kind of ornery, and tends to adhere to the side of the tank, to drain pipes, to filtering screens, to sensors that are immersed in the tank, and to the walls of the tank itself.

The result is that the tank, and those components, can become plated with residue that contains significant quantities of the precious metal you are using. That residue might not look like the bright shiny gold or silver or platinum that you are applying, but it might contain significant amounts of those rare metals anyway. The same can be true of the electrolytic fluid that you use in your plating; when you dispose of it, you could be disposing of valuable precious metal at the same time.

The result? When tanks, drain pipes, and other components become sufficiently contaminated after use, the quality of your platings can become compromised. Instead of only plating your parts with the precious metal you intend to, other elements that have contaminated your electrolytic fluid can stick to them too. At that point, you are faced with some choices. You could scrub and clean the tanks, which needlessly discards quantities of precious metals. Or you could call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to discuss the used tank scrap and other plating components that you have. We’re ready to recommend strategies that will help you recoup the value in the precious metals you have been using in your plating processes.

How Can You Find Hidden Dollars in Precious Metal Plated Scrap?

You could have traces of precious metals on your tank surfaces, on filter screens, in drain pipes, in accumulations of sludge, or on immersed sensors. And if you use a brush plating process in which an electrically charged metal brush is used to apply precious metal to the pieces you want to plate, your used plating brushes can contain precious metals too. Unless you call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to discuss your used tank scrap and other recyclables, you could be throwing dollars away.