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In the world of jewelry, specifically engagement rings, you will find three best options: White gold, silver, and platinum. All three of them are preferred over pure gold because they are more elegant.
White gold is a mixture of pure gold and other metals that give you a strong white metal after being combined. The purity of this metal depends on the ratio of gold in it. For example, a 14K white gold ring will have 58.3% pure gold and 41.7% alloys. As the karats increase, so will the ratio of pure gold.
The addition of alloys gives the metal a white color. As for the shiny coat on top, that’s what makes white gold so popular. Known as rhodium plating, the white gold jewelry is dipped in a metal that gives it a protective outer layer. This layer prevents the jewelry from changing color or tarnishing.
Depending on the quality of the jewelry, rhodium plating usually lasts around 6 to 12 months. However, if the jewelry is 18K, it will last around two years. The white metal itself will not tarnish; it might even last forever. You need to get it re-plated every now and get that bright white finish again. This will cost you between $20 and $50 or more, depending on whether you’re getting a ring or a necklace re-plated.
Following is a comparison chart that will tell you how white gold’s durability compares to other precious metals:
|Level of Tarnishing
|6 Months to 2 Years
|Chemicals and oil in the skin can wear off the rhodium plating. However, you can get your jewelry re-dipped and restore its original appearance.
|20 to 30 Years or Forever
|You will start to see spots and discoloration on the surface, which can be removed with an anti-tarnish cloth. However, make sure not to overuse it. Otherwise, you might dull the metal’s luster.
|Develops patina after a few years, which some people like; they think it gives the jewelry an antique look. Patina can be easily removed by getting the jewelry polished professionally.
We have shared the basics about white gold so far. Now, let’s look at the rhodium plating in detail:
To see the most popular white gold jewelry just click here.
Rhodium Plating Q&A
The rhodium plating gives the white metal a bright, shiny look and protects the white metal underneath. Now, let’s learn a little bit more about it:
Do All White Gold Jewelry Need Rhodium Plating?
Yes. Since white gold contains pure gold in high quantity, it has a yellow tinge. To retain the “white” in white gold, you need to plate it with the alloy rhodium. The light coating protects the white metal from tarnishing.
How Much Does it Take to Get White Gold Re-Plated?
Re-plating a standard white gold engagement ring will cost you anywhere between $60 and $120. This price might vary based on the rhodium solution’s concentration, the jeweler’s skillset, finished effect, and turnaround time. Heavier and broader jewelry requires more rhodium, which increases the price.
How Long Will Rhodium Plating Last?
Rhodium plating lasts between 6 months and 2 years, depending on how frequently you wear your jewelry. For example, if you have a necklace that you have reserved for special occasions, like Christmas parties or weddings, it will last more than 2 years, given that you have stored it in an airtight container. On the other hand, the rhodium plating of a ring you wear all the time will last only 6 months. You will slowly start to see the yellow underneath, which will tell you it’s time to re-plate your ring.
Does Rhodium Plating Affect Gemstones?
If you are getting your engagement ring re-plated, it probably has a gemstone or diamond on it. If you are worried about your precious stone getting damaged, let us put you to ease.
Rhodium plating is a process in which a current passes through the white metal. This allows the alloy solution to bind with the jewelry’s elements, causing the plating effect to take place. Since gemstones and diamonds and gemstones don’t conduct electricity, you can take a sigh of relief.
Should I Get 18K, 14K, or 10K White Gold?
Among these three karats, 14K is the best as it offers you the perfect blend of longevity, durability, and price. As mentioned earlier, 14K white gold jewelry has a balanced ratio of pure gold and alloys, giving it quite the strength. Since 18K has more pure gold, it is not durable. As for 10K, it contains the least amount of pure gold. Its quality is quite low because of the high ratio of alloys. This is why 10K white gold is best for making costume jewelry.
How Much Time Does Rhodium Plating Take?
The rhodium plating process can take around an hour or two on average. The more complex your white gold jewelry is, the more time it will take. For example, if it’s a simple wedding band, you can expect to get it back all shiny in just 45 minutes. However, if it has multiple prongs, twists in the design, and beveled edges, it will take several hours.
Is It Ok to Rhodium Plate White Jewelry Every Year?
Absolutely not! This will wear down your ring early. When white gold gets scratched, the metal residue gets transferred to the surface it was rubbed against. During rhodium plating, the jewelry’s old plating is stripped, and then all the scratches are removed. This lowers the quality of white gold slowly. So, if you are getting your jewelry re-plated repeatedly, you will find that the ring no longer looks or feels the same.
Can Yellow Gold Be Rhodium Plated?
Yes, you can plate yellow gold jewelry with rhodium because this metal also conducts electricity. However, since yellow gold is pure gold and has the yellowest color, the plating will wear off in 6 months, and the jewelry will go back to its original color.
Does White Gold Cause Rashes?
The higher the concentration of alloys in white gold, the more it will react to chlorine, chemicals, and sweat. Since white gold contains nickel, expect to get skin rashes… only when wearing 10K jewelry.
With rhodium plating, your white gold jewelry will last forever. However, it is still susceptible to tarnishing. So, clean it regularly and re-plate it at the first sign of a yellow tinge.