Ahh, one of the most asked questions in the jewelry industry. Why doesn’t my white gold look white anymore?
Well, folks, gold comes out of the ground yellow…very yellow. There is no such thing as white gold unless we transform yellow gold into white. Silver, Platinum, and Palladium come out of the ground white. Sorry ladies, no white gold.
So, how do we make it white? I wrote a previous article talking about some of the things jewelers add to gold. The most common metal we add is a nickel. Yup, the same metal many people are allergic to. The more nickel, the whiter the gold but then it’s still not totally white like you see in the showcase and magazines. To combat that “off-color” the industry rhodium plates the jewelry to make it whiter. Yup, Rhodium is very white. Oh, did I say plate? Yeah, it’s going to wear off over time and must be re-plated regularly.
So, what is Rhodium? Why is it on your ring? Why shouldn’t you want it?
Rhodium is a pretty hard metal, about the same as titanium. It has several uses, one of them is in catalytic converters in cars. It’s very white, doesn’t tarnish, etc. etc. But who decided white gold had to be stark white? Damned if I know, I guess jewelers. So, since you were convinced white gold has to be stark white you are stuck with getting your ring re-plated at least once a year, maybe more.
here’s something to think about. Rose gold or pink gold. Yup, allowed to make it pink. Thank goodness someone hasn’t decided all rose gold has to be a bright rose that needed plating all the time.
Now, don’t get me wrong, we can alloy yellow gold to make it pretty dang white but hopefully you aren’t allergic to nickel. We can use palladium but that does give a little warmer-grey tone to the white.
So, to sum it up. Your ring is not turning yellow, it is the fake white Rhodium wearing off. Yeah, that $20,000 white gold ring is plated. Plated as in temporary. Now, don’t get me wrong, you wax your car a couple of times a year, why not plate your ring a couple of times a year. Now that I brought that up. How much do you pay to have your car detailed? Why is it everyone complains about how much jewelers need to charge to “Detail” your ring? Now, that sounds like another rant, I mean blog.
By the way, I’ll detail your ring for you any time. I have all the good stuff to do it. Yup, I’m going to charge you about the same as a car detail…maybe a little less.