Does White Gold Rust Or Tarnish?

Does White Gold Rust or Tarnish

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Are you planning a secret proposal? You are probably heading out to buy a ring for the love of your life. You could buy plenty of other gemstones, but such a special occasion deserves something sparkly and precious, and nothing is better than a diamond!

With that checked off on your mental list, there’s one more thing you need to consider: Have you thought about what kind of ring material you want to buy? Some of the most common options include pure gold, white gold, platinum, and silver.

Don’t get confused between them because we are here to help you decide. Here’s a rundown on these metals:

To see the most popular white gold jewelry just click here.

American Coin Treasures 1 Gram Swiss Ingot Tribute Novelty

Pure Gold

Pure gold is yellow gold, which you see on the display of every jewelry shop. It’s shiny and yellow and an expensive option for jewelry. Here’s how the ratio of gold differs in a ring based on its karat:

  • 24K Pure Gold = 100%
  • 22K Pure Gold = 91.7%
  • 18K Pure Gold = 75%
  • 14K Pure Gold = 58.33%
  • 10K Pure Gold = 37.5%
  • 9K Pure Gold = 41.7%

White Gold

White gold is a crafted white metal. It contains pure gold and alloys that lighten the yellow color. The ring is then plated in rhodium, which is a metal belonging to the platinum family that gives it a bright, white shine.

White gold follows the same karat ratio as pure gold. The only difference is that the other alloys added dull the yellow color.


Platinum is rarer and heavier than gold. It’s a pure white metal, primarily used for making engagement rings. Where a platinum ring contains 95% of the white metal, a 14K gold ring contains only 58.5% of pure gold.

Platinum comes in multiple grades:

  • PL950/Iridium is 5% iridium and 95% platinum by weight
  • PL950/Ruthenium is 5% ruthenium and 95% platinum by weight
  • PL950/Cobalt is 5% cobalt and 95% platinum by weight (Purest platinum with hypoallergenic properties

Platinum is softer and more malleable than white gold, so it gets scratched easily and develops patina over time.


An alloy of silver by the name sterling silver is used to make silver jewelry. This alloy contains 7.5% other metals (usually copper) and 92.5% pure silver. Pure silver jewelry has the hallmark 925, which indicates that the piece has been certified and, in fact, contains 92.5% pure silver.

Silver is extremely susceptible to tarnishing. Humidity, moisture, and air pollutants mix with the alloys in sterling silver, which discolor the ring. This is why silver jewelry needs to be stored separately and requires regular cleaning.

Now that you know the basics of every white gold and how it compares to other precious metals, let’s take a look at this white metal in detail:

Swarovski Angelic Tennis Bracelet with White Crystals on a Rhodium Plated Setting

What Is White Gold?

White gold is made from a mixture of pure gold and alloys, such as zinc, nickel, palladium, platinum, and silver. Sometimes, the mixture contains one or two metals. The jewelry is then plated in rhodium, which makes it shine.

Since white gold is made with pure gold, which is soft, it is mixed with alloys to make it stronger. This is what protects it from scratches. One thing you need to keep in mind is that white gold contains nickel, which can cause rashes. So, if your girlfriend happens to have sensitive skin, we suggest that you ask the jeweler to show you white gold rings that contain alloys belonging to the platinum family.

Does White Gold Tarnish or Rust?

White gold does not tarnish or rust!

There are plenty of myths going around that say white gold tarnishes or rusts. However, that’s not the case.

What it does is change color. As we mentioned earlier, white gold has a lustrous shine thanks to rhodium. This covering slowly wears off. While the jewelry doesn’t lose its luster or quality, it does react to the environment and other things.

Even though white gold is superior in quality than sterling silver and platinum, it has a few drawbacks. White gold is harder, but it’s not pure like other precious metals, and platinum is more expensive. The former contains more alloys and the latter is a precious metal. Any jewelry made of platinum is purer.

The point of telling you all these attributes is so that you can easily make a decision between white gold and platinum. In our opinion, they both have their own set of pros and cons that put them at the same level.

So, we have established that white gold does not tarnish, but it does change color. When the rhodium plating wears off, you start to see the light yellow hue of pure gold. The good news is that this can be easily fixed by re-plating the jewelry.

Did You Know?

Here are some fun facts about white gold:

  • 18K pure gold and white gold have the same value because they both contain the same amount of yellow gold
  • In the 1920s, white gold became popular as low-budget platinum
  • With proper care and maintenance, white gold will last a lifetime
  • 9K white gold jewelry has a warm tinge because it contains multiple alloys and in high quantity
  • You can get your white gold jewelry rhodium-plated every two years for forever

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, white gold does not tarnish, but it does change color. The bright shine of rhodium plating wears off a year two later, and the yellow color underneath starts to appear. Even though pure gold is mixed with pure white metals and alloys to change the yellow color, a slight hue remains covered white rhodium’s white shine.

If you are on a strict budget, white gold is the best choice. It is durable and stronger, and the yearly touch-ups don’t cost much. If you want to preserve the rhodium plating longer, do not wear it in the shower or swimming pool. Remove it when doing household chores, such as washing dishes and using chemicals to clean your tiles and toilet.

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