In a nut shell? It doesn't tarnish and resists scratches.
Now that you have the answer - let's take a look at why it is used in the jewelry world.
Here's some basics to help you pull it all together.
Tarnish (dark brown and ugly) happens when copper reacts to moisture and sulfur in the air, causing the sterling silver tarnish. There are a lot of things around us that helps create tarnish faster - air pollution (who doesn't have that) and high humidity. If you are lucky enough to have skipped those two things you still are not an exception because products we use every day (and we are all guilty of this) aid in the dreadful creation of tarnish too! Hairspray, body lotion, bleach and perfume create it even faster.
Well we can't give up our products (girls gotta look good) - so what do we do?
Here comes rhodium plating to save the day and all that elbow grease of having to clean your jewelry.
Rhodium is not only a precious metal but it also belongs in the platinum family. Besides the two major items of resisting scratches or tarnishing it also provides a reflective appearance that appears white.
Rhodium is usually found on two types of jewelry - sterling silver and white gold.
In the picture, I've included two rings. Both are .925 sterling silver. Now the picture isn't the greatest but the difference between the two is rhodium plating.
The ring on the left is black onyx and is about 15 years old. To be honest, it hasn't been cleaned in about 6 months (give or take a little). It doesn't look very pretty does it?
The ring on the right is worn off and on and is subjected to lotion and soap on a very regular basis. But guess what? It hasn't been cleaned in 10 months. And it still glistens and shines. I'll post about jewelry cleaning later.
For the record, rhodium plating doesn't detract from the value of the base metal (.925 sterling silver or white gold). Rest assured the gold and the silver are still intact underneath that wonderful time saver known as rhodium.
Yes ladies, rhodium is our friend as it helps you make a statement without saying a word.