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Rhodium is another metal which is a part of the platinum group of metals. It was also discovered by the same English chemist that discovered palladium, William Hyde Wollaston. After Wollaston had discovered both palladium and platinum he was left with a reddish salt that produced rhodium. He named the metal after the Greek word for ‘rose’.
Rhodium is usually found in its purest of forms, but is often mined with other metals from the platinum group. 84% of rhodium is found in the platinum mines in South Africa and another 12% is found in Russia. Rhodium can also be mined in smaller amounts from nickel and copper ores such as in the nickel mine in Ontario. A number of chemical treatments separate the rhodium from the other metals it is found with such as palladium.
Rhodium is one of the rarest and treasured metals. It’s a hard, durable silvery-white metal which is valued at around £484.94 as of July 2016. Rhodium corrodes at a considerably slow place and being one of the most reactive chemicals, it is usually alloyed with the metals, platinum and palladium. It is also not affected by most common acids such as nitric acid, but with acids like aqua regia, rhodium will dissolve. Around 80% of rhodium’s production is used in various vehicles such as cars or motorbikes. It can also be used in the jewellery business; it is electroplated on white gold and platinum to give the jewellery a shiny white surface which will slowly fade once worn. Rhodium could further be used to coat sterling silver to protect it from any tarnish or discolour. Pure rhodium jewellery is extremely rare, not for its high price but more so for how difficult the production of it is.
Rhodium’s price value has been very unpredictable over recent years. The price of the metal in 2003 was around $530 per ounce, but when there was a lack of supply for rhodium the price almost instantaneously increased to $10,000 per ounce in 2008.
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