Does White Gold Turn Yellow?

Does White Gold Turn Yellow?

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White Gold is beautiful, bright, and shiny most of the time. However, after wearing it for a while, you may notice that it has begun to turn yellow. If so, have you ever wondered why?

The truth is that white gold does not turn yellow, but rather it was that color, to begin with, and simply had a coating on top of it that has begun to wear off. As the rhodium plating wears off, the yellowish color of the white gold becomes more prominent.

When this happens all that you need to do is take your white gold jewelry and get the rhodium plating redone (also called redipping). This is a relatively inexpensive process and can be done in a few days by most jewelers.

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What Is White Gold Made of?

White gold is an alloy, which means that it is made with a mixture of pure gold – yellow gold – and other metals like silver, palladium, or nickel. Typically, white gold comes in a ratio of 75% and 25% other metals. The more pure gold there is in the white gold alloy, the more yellowish it will be in color. All white gold will have some degree of a yellowish tint to it, regardless of how much or how little pure gold it contains.

The metals mixed in with the pure gold are not just there to make the white gold appear less yellow, but they play an essential part in making the gold less soft and delicate. The added metals make the gold stronger and more durable.

In addition to being an alloy, white gold is also plated with a thin rhodium coating. Rhodium is a strong metal that resists oxidation, corrosion, and rust and does not scratch easily. It is bright white in color and resembles platinum. However, rhodium is quite expensive, so only a thin layer is used to coat white gold.

Why Does White Gold Turn Yellow Over Time?

Now let’s come to the main question, does white gold turn yellow over time? The answer is that white gold can begin to appear more yellow, but that is not because its color is changing. Rather, the while gold was yellowish, to begin with, but it was coated with bright, white rhodium to give it a platinum-like white appearance. Over time and with use, the rhodium plating can begin to wear away. Once it does, the original yellowish color of the white gold begins to become more apparent.

The rhodium plating on white gold is usually very thin and can wear off quite easily if you do not look after your white gold properly. Some of the reasons why the rhodium plating on your white gold may begin to wear off can be due to contact with the skin and excessive sweat, abrasion or damage, or exposure to harsh cleaning chemicals.

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How Long Does It Take for White Gold to Start Yellowing?

The rhodium plating on white gold can take any amount of time to wear off. It usually has a lifespan of a year and a half maximum, but it may wear off sooner or later depending on how well you take care of it.

The type of jewelry you have will also make a big difference in how long it might take the white gold to start yellowing. For example, a pair of white gold earrings might stay bright white for a long time because they do not face a lot of abrasions and are probably kept safely in a jewelry box when they aren’t being used.

A white gold wedding band, on the other hand, would likely be worn every day, face a lot of wear and tear, abrasion, contact with sweat, and contact with household cleaning solutions and water. This could mean that the rhodium plating on a wedding band would wear off quickly, making the jewelry look yellow much sooner than a year.

How Can You Prevent Your White Gold Jewelry from Turning Yellow?

Although your white gold will eventually yellow over time as the rhodium plating naturally wears off, you can take a few precautions to prevent it from turning yellow too quickly. Most of the rhodium plating on white gold wears off as a result of abrasion or rubbing. Avoid situations where your white gold would face rubbing, such as while washing your hands or exercising.

Next, you should keep the white gold away from chemicals and water, which means you should take it off before going for a shower or a swim or doing laundry or any other household cleaning. Lastly, store it away safely in a cool, dark space when you’re not wearing the white gold. If taken care of, you can prevent your white gold from turning yellow for two or three years.

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How You Can Restore Your White Gold to Its Original Bright Shine

If you find that your white gold has turned yellow over time and is not as beautiful and bright as you would like it to be, don’t worry about it too much. Restoring your white gold back to its former glory is a relatively quick and easy process. You need to take your white gold to the jeweler’s store and ask them to re-plate it for you.

Through electroplating, your jeweler will fuse your worn white gold with a bright and new layer of rhodium plating. The process is relatively quick, with even the most complex jewelry pieces taking no more than three or four hours to be re-plated. However, because rhodium is an expensive metal, you can expect to pay between $50 to $150 for re-plating a small and simple piece of jewelry.


If you have found your white gold jewelry turning yellow over time, it’s nothing to worry about. White gold does begin to appear yellow over time, but this does not mean that it is changing color.

It was always a bit yellowish and just had a bright white rhodium plating over it. That plating can wear down over time, causing the white gold to look yellow. You can easily get the white gold re-plated and restore it to its original, bright white color.

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