Does White Gold Turn Yellow With Time?

14k white gold alloys are usually rhodium plated to enhance their appearance and durability. White gold is created by mixing pure gold with other metals such as silver, palladium, or nickel. However, the natural color of this alloy tends to have a yellowish tint. To achieve a bright, white color similar to platinum or sterling silver, white gold jewelry is plated with a thin layer of rhodium, a member of the platinum family of metals.

Rhodium plating provides several benefits to white gold jewelry:

  • Enhanced Appearance: Rhodium has a naturally brilliant, reflective surface that gives white gold jewelry a lustrous, white finish, making it more visually appealing.
  • Improved Durability: Rhodium plating forms a protective layer on the surface of the jewelry, which helps prevent scratches, tarnishing, and general wear over time.

However, rhodium plating is not permanent and will wear off over time due to everyday wear, contact with substances like soaps, lotions, and chemicals, and friction against hard surfaces. The rate at which the plating wears off depends on the thickness of the plating, the wearer's lifestyle, and how well the jewelry is cared for. Regular maintenance, such as avoiding exposure to harsh chemicals and removing the ring when engaging in activities that could cause damage, can help prolong the lifespan of the rhodium plating.

To make a rhodium-plated white gold ring look like new again, it would need to be re-plated. It is a service we offer, but also can be done at any jewelry repair shop. This involves applying a fresh layer of rhodium to the surface of the ring. The process typically involves the following steps:

  • Professional Cleaning: The ring is thoroughly cleaned to remove any dirt, oils, or residues that may affect the plating process.
  • Rhodium Plating: A jeweler applies a new layer of rhodium to the ring's surface. This is usually done through a process called electroplating, where an electric current is used to bond the rhodium to the ring.
  • Polishing and Finishing: After the plating process, the ring is polished to ensure a smooth and uniform surface. This step helps restore the shine and luster of the jewelry.