The Very Highest Quality Diamond Rings...

Why Does White Gold Turn Yellow?FAQ IndexChard 24 Carat Home Page

Multi-coloured gold jewellery
There is no such thing as white gold!
Gold is yellow. In fact all metals are silvery gray in colour, with just two exceptions, copper and gold.
There are however gold alloys which appear white, silvery, or grey.
When jewellers speak of white gold, they mean white gold alloys. In most other major languages these alloys are described as grey rather than white. We will stick to "white", although gray would be a more accurate description.

What is White Gold?
Rather than repeat ourselves, please take a look at our "What is White Gold?" page, then come back to this page.

Now that you know what white gold is, you will realise why it turns yellowish.

Rhodium Plating
It is common practice to rhodium plate all white gold jewellery, and some platinum. Rhodium is very bright, and highly reflective. When the rhodium plating wears through, the colour of the actual "white" alloy can be seen. This varies from gray through to distinctly yellowish gray. On some cheap jewellery, yellow gold alloys are rhodium plated, so that when the plating wears out, the natural yellow colour of the alloy appears.
In other cases, cheap diamond rings are made in low carat (9, 10 or 14) yellow gold alloys, usually as one piece castings. The "head" or diamond set portion of the ring is then rhodium plated to imitate a two part ring. When the rhodium wears off these rings, they usually look dreadful.

How Long Will The Plating Last?
In the few weeks after we first published this page, we received quite a lot of e-mails all asking basically the same question, how long would or should the plating last. It seems as if most of the enquirers had bought white gold rings which had started to discolour within a few years.
Of course, there is no simple answer to the question. It depends on the thickness of the plating, and the precise conditions under which it was applied. How bad the discolouration may be depends on the colour of the substrate, that is the actual metal that the ring is made from.
One thing we told all these enquirers was "ask the store they bought it from."

Differing Trade Opinions
Some members of the jewellery trade believe that white gold alloys are now so good that they are equal to platinum, others believe that platinum is superior. We would say that although platinum is better for most purposes, white gold alloys have closed the gap cosiderably, and can be almost as good as platinum.

Buying Advice
It is important to recognise that even the best "white" gold is actually gray, what you see when new is probably rhodium plating. Even if you are buying platinum, it is distinctly gray, and is often rhodium plated when new. Because it is not made from an intrinsically yellow metal, there is no yellow to show through.

Because platinum is denser than gold, a similar piece will weigh more. It is also more expensive to buy, and to process. Manufacturing losses and costs are higher because it is more costly to process and refine. The choice is also more restricted because less jewellery is produced in platinum.

You may wish to visit some of our other pages:-
Allergies to Gold Jewellery
Gold Alloys by Weight & Volume
Hardness & Durability of Gold Alloys
Platinum the Lowest Possible Price

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