Today, I’ve invited guest blogger Bill Ferdinand to talk about rhodium. Yup! The topic is rhodium and it’s a hot topic these days, so stay with us.
You all know Bill – my partner in biz, in marriage, and in the running of our foundation, Operation Bling…
…shameless plug, purchase your Operation Bling 2021 Mystery Box and attend the Reveal Party in-person or virtually on Nov 5!
Back to Rhodium. Take it Bill!
Resizing rings is a service Ferdinand Jewelers likes to offer to our clients with little fanfare and little expense. It’s like replacing a watch battery or cleaning jewelry (which brings up another rhodium-related issue... a blog for another day).
We are happy to resize your ring, and, as you have come to expect from Ferdinand Jewelers, we will do it with special care and precision (which brings up a 3rd blog… resizing jewelry is not for amateurs!), and, in the past, we have been able to rhodium plate finish your ring with a minimal additional fee to the overall ring sizing price just to cover the cost of the rhodium…UNTIL NOW!
What does rhodium have to do with resizing?
Rhodium is a precious, rare metal with unique chemical and physical properties that makes it the ideal metal for thin plating jewelry. Although used to plate other metals including silver, it is most commonly used with the making of and resizing of white gold rings.
All rings made with white gold are plated with rhodium to maintain a bright, reflective, shiny white color. Rhodium also increases resistance to scratches and durability. It does not tarnish or scratch and gives off a sheen far better than gold or silver. AND it is hypoallergenic. There is simply no other metal that can do the job.
To resize a ring – to make it larger - we cut the band, create a bridge of additional metal and rejoin the pieces. The entire ring is generally refinished - stripped of the plating, sized, replated and polished for a perfect finish. This process requires a reapplication of rhodium plating to retain the shiny white color.
The amount of extra material most determines the price. And here is where we jewelers have hit a stumbling block.
Rhodium pricing has hit the roof!
According to Trading Economics, rhodium prices have increased 72% since January of this year. This year! That’s on top of steady increases in recent past years. Why? Rhodium is a rare metal used primarily in automotive catalytic converters. Emission standards have led to higher demand and increased pricing.
Why such a big jump now?
Nations have redoubled their commitment to reducing their toxic emissions as part of the recent Paris Agreement. Large countries such as China and India – major contributors to air pollution – are taking the issue more seriously and stepping up their demand for catalytic converters.
The market is facing a supply deficit. Rhodium has always been scarce and expensive to extract from ores. The fruitful mines – more rhodium extracted from ore – are no more. Any new mining projects will extract less rhodium per ounce of ore.
The primary sources for rhodium are contracting. South Africa, the largest producer of rhodium (80-90% of global production) has been affected by COVID. There has been little investment in new mines for the past two decades because, up until 2019, the demand was stable. One of the major producers shut a plant due to an explosion.
Back to Jewelry
In the past, Ferdinand Jewelers has been able to resize white gold rings for the average price of $45 to $55. These days now, because of the increased price of rhodium, the average cost of sizing a white gold ring is $90 to $95. And that doesn’t take into account the increased cost of gold (another blog) or the time and materials it takes for polishing. We don’t want resizing to be an expensive venture, but the cost of the materials is out of our control and we have to pass on the increased cost of the metals.
Please know we will continue to service your jewelry with the expertise you’ve come to expect at the lowest cost possible.