Jewellers back to black with rhodium, ruthenium
* Jewellers give twist to classic designs
* Rhodium, ruthenium plate favoured for deep colour
By Jan Harvey
LONDON, May (Reuters) - Ice-white platinum has long had enduring appeal in jewellery and experimental designers are now also turning to its lesser-known sister metals rhodium and ruthenium to produce work in darker hues.
The deep gunmetal finish of black rhodium plate and the pure black of ruthenium are both becoming increasingly popular, jewellers say.
London-based designer Alex Monroe has used black rhodium to plate pieces in his nautically-inspired Beyond the Sea collection, along with silver, and rose and yellow gold.
He has used black ruthenium to create jet black crow's feathers for a 2009 line, and in special editions of floral-themed lines to give a "contrast to the femininity of the pieces," said his firm's chief operating officer Emma Burgin.
Platinum's sister metals are produced mainly for industrial uses: rhodium as a component in automobile catalytic converters and ruthenium for electronics. But demand for jewellery, even when tiny overall, can add to the lustre of a precious metal, especially as the exotic metals become more affordable.
Both rhodium RHOD-LON and ruthenium RUTH-LON are much less expensive than they used to be, with rhodium currently just cheaper than platinum at $1,125 an ounce versus more than $10,000 an ounce back in 2008, and ruthenium at $48 an ounce, compared to $880 at its 2007 peak. Continuación...