What is this Rhodium?

Painting of William Hyde Wollaston, the scientist

Image via Wikipedia

Rhodium may not be a word you hear everyday, but it is something you may very well see on a frequent basis. Rhodium is an element on the periodic table discovered by William Hyde Wollaston in 1803. He was attempting to make platinum into a malleable metal and as a result extracted Rhodium and palladium, two elements found in platinum.

Rhodium is very rare and costs upwards of 25 times the cost of gold.  It is commonly manufactured in South Africa. It is the most expensive element used in jewelry manufacturing, and is widely considered the world’s most precious metal.

The characteristics of Rhodium that make it so special are its resistance to scratches, wear, and tarnish. It is highly reflective and is often used to plate white gold to give it luminescence. White gold always carries a yellow hue and that is not suitable for market. Rhodium gives white gold a brilliant and resistant shine.

Rhodium has found its use in other industries as well: automotive and aeronautics being the primary two.

Exciting Historical Fact from WiseGeek.com:

Rhodium was made famous in 1979 when the Guinness Book of World Records awarded Paul McCartney a rhodium-plated disc to celebrate his status as history’s all-time best-selling songwriter and recording artist. Rhodium is used when other precious metals such as silver, gold, or platinum are considered not enough.


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