Rhodium Metal Cube 99.95%
Rhodium Metal Cube 99.95%
In jewelry, rhodium is normally used to enhance the prestige of questionable jewelry. A quick search on eBay or Amazon turns up hundreds of offers with keywords "rhodium plated" and similar in the titles. What's so special about rhodium plating? Well, it acts as a barrier to protect the crappy alloy underneath, to be blunt. Marketers often go to comical lengths to make their wares seem less humble than their true origins. Solid gold or platinum needs no rhodium plating because they're already tarnish proof. Cheaper alloys, on the other hand, would rust right off the fingers and chests of their wearers if not for a stack of a hundred or so rhodium atoms keeping the bulk of the material and the wearer's sweat from coming into contact with one another.
But that begs the question. If rhodium is all that why not make solid rhodium jewelry in the first place? Ashton Kutcher once bragged in an episode of Two and a Half Men that his rhodium wedding band was made from the "most expensive metal in the world". It turns out that that was just sitcom fantasy for there's no Tiffany or Cartier ultra-exclusive line that fashions rhodium jewelry for the rich and famous.
But, again, why?
Because rhodium is utterly unworkable in pure form. It is extremely hard. Taking a hammer to a piece of solid rhodium to turn it into a ring is bound to break the hammer and bounce it right back at your head. If you think you will subdue it with a sledgehammer chances are all you'll manage to do is turn the piece into a precious metal grenade; shattering explosively but most definitely not taking on the shape you want.
That hasn't stopped virtuoso jewelers from doing the impossible. With a lot of experience and trial and error rings have been made of solid rhodium (as well as equally difficult iridium and rhenium) but the techniques are not scalable to the point where they could meet demand if offered to the public.
The bullion world on the other hand has taken notice and a few refiners now offer rhodium bars and coins. Ten years ago speculation drove it, indeed, to be the most expensive metal when it briefly traded for over $10,000 an ounce but the worldwide economic slump weakened demand to the point where now it's no more expensive than platinum or gold (though still far rarer).
Our rhodium cube is a little work of art. Slavish attention to detail has yielded a piece of de facto jewelry with absolutely perfectly parallel facets and razor sharp edges and corners. Hold it in your hands - so very carefully to avoid dropping it - and you may well cop a big grin while contemplating its beauty and rarity.
Weight of this 10mm cube is 11.70±0.05g.