Whether you’re thinking about buying white jewelry or you’re just interested in knowing what is used to give white gold its white mirror-like finish, you’ve come to the right place. We will explain what is used to plate white gold.
So, why is white gold plated with rhodium?
White gold is created by mixing pure, yellow gold with white metals, such as silver, nickel, and palladium to give it a white color. However, mixing gold with white metals is not enough to give white gold the white color that we have all come to love. So, rhodium is used to plate the yellowish-white gold to give it that white, mirror-like finish.
If you’ve ever owned a piece of white gold jewelry, you may have noticed as the years passed and your ring has worn out that there is a faded yellow color showing through. This faded yellow is the pure gold that’s mixed with other white metals. Rhodium plating is used to cover the yellowish gold alloy that’s used in your white gold jewelry.
If you have a white gold ring or piece of jewelry that looks work out and shows the yellow gold underneath the layer of rhodium, there’s no need to panic, you can always take your ring to a jewelry store as some of them have the tools and skills to restore your ring or jewelry by replating it with rhodium.
Does White Gold Originally Come Plated with Rhodium?
Yes, almost all white jewelry that’s purchased around the world comes coated with rhodium. The lawyer of rhodium on some white gold jewelry wears out, exposing the gold alloy underneath.
So, to restore white gold jewelry, jewelry owners often take their jewelry to a jewelry store that can reapply a thin coat of rhodium to restore a piece of jewelry to its original form.
We have seen jewelry stores perform this process for $50 to $200, depending on the size of the piece of jewelry and the experience of the person performing the electroplating.
Why Does White Gold Need to be Plated with Rhodium?
White gold needs to be plated with rhodium because, without rhodium, your white gold wouldn’t be so white. To better explain this, you need to understand the materials that are used in white gold. White gold is really made from pure, yellow gold that’s mixed with white metals, such as nickel, silver, and palladium.
The mixture of these elements produces a yellowish-white metal that looks nothing like the white gold you will find at your local jewelry store. So, to give white gold that white mirror-like finish, the pale yellow gold must be coated with rhodium. Once rhodium is applied, white gold takes on that pure white look that we have all come to love.
How Long Does Rhodium Last on White Gold?
It depends on the quality of the rhodium plating. We have seen rhodium-plated white gold rings last for 10+ years without showing any signs of wearing out. That said, we’ve seen the rhodium playing on other white jewelry last for as little as 2 years. So, it really depends on the quality of white gold that you purchased.
However, don’t worry if your ring starts to lose its rhodium plating, you will notice a dull yellow layer appear, don’t worry that’s just the gold alloy (gold mixed with other white metals) that’s underneath.
We often get asked, “why did my white gold ring turn yellow?” now you know that the rhodium plating on your ring has worn off, exposing the yellow gold that’s underneath. If this happens to you, you can repair your ring to restore it to its original state.
You can repair your ring if this happens by finding a jewelry store that does rhodium plating. Rhodium plating can cost between $50 to $120, depending on the size of the piece of jewelry that you want to repair.
To find a place that does rhodium, just do a quick google search for “gold repair” and ask the jewelry places that come up if they do rhodium plating. Many jewelry stores offer this service for a small fee.
How Can You Tell If a Ring is Rhodium Plated?
If you’ve owned your white gold ring for quite a while (6+ months) and you’ve worn it daily, you may be able to tell that your ring is rhodium plated by placing it under a bright light.
If you look closely underneath the ring at the part that comes into contact with your skin, you may notice a dull yellowish patch. This patch is an area where the rhodium plating on your ring has worn out a bit, exposing the yellow gold alloy that’s underneath the rhodium plating.
However, if you haven’t worn your ring, you have the option of taking it to a jeweler to test it out for you. Jewelry stores will be able to tell you whether your ring is white gold with rhodium plating or if it’s made of some other metal, such as silver.
You can typically tell if a ring is a rhodium plated by looking at the karats of the ring. If the ring says 14k or 18k and looks white, this should tell you that the ring is made of gold that’s most likely plated with rhodium. Rhodium is used to give all of the white gold its white mirror-lie finish.
Is Rhodium Plating Good for White Gold?
Rhodium plating is good for white gold because it gives gold that shiny white platinum look that women all over the world have come to love. Also, gold plating prevents white gold jewelry from tarnishing.
Rhodium-plated jewelry is also good for those who have a nickel allergy. This is so because nickel is often mixed in with white gold. Having rhodium plating on the surface of the metal makes it a great choice for those who have a nickel allergy because by applying a thin layer of rhodium, your skin won’t make contact with nickel or any of the other metals that are mixed in with white gold.
Is Plated Gold Real Gold?
Absolutely, yes. Any gold that is plated with rhodium is still real gold. You can figure out how much gold is in your plated gold by looking at the karats of the piece of jewelry you own.
For example, if your rhodium-plated gold jewelry says 18k, that means that your jewelry has 18 parts of gold and 6 parts of other metals, meaning that your jewelry is 75% gold that is covered with a thin layer of rhodium to give it that white mirror-like finish.
However, if you’re asking about gold-plated jewelry, the answer is no, it’s not real gold. If a piece of jewelry is said to be “gold plated,” then it’s not real gold, but it’s only covered with a very thin layer of gold. The metal underneath is usually copper or silver, with a very thin layer of gold applied to the surface.
You can tell if a piece of jewelry is gold-plated because it won’t have karats. Don’t let jewelry stores confuse you by saying things like 18k gold plated. When you hear this, this just means that there is a very thin, in some cases microscopic, a layer of 18k gold. A thin layer of 18k gold is not the same as an 18k gold ring.
How to Clean White Gold That’s Rhodium Plated?
You can clean white gold that’s plated with rhodium by placing it in warm water and gently applying some mild dishwashing soap, such as Palmolive or Dawn. You can simply place it in some soapy water and use a piece of cloth to clean the surface. This is the safest way to clean your jewelry without damaging it.
We have heard of some people who have used a toothbrush to clean their white gold jewelry, this is the worst thing you can do to white gold because the toothbrush bristles will scratch your jewelry, leaving ugly micro-scratches all over your jewelry.
If your white gold jewelry is scratched and has yellow spots appearing, you may want to consider taking it to a jeweler to replate it with rhodium. Doing this will restore your white gold jewelry to its brand new appearance.
Rhodium Plated White Gold
At this point, you should know that almost all white gold jewelry is plated with a thin layer of rhodium. Rhodium is used to give white gold is white, platinum-like finish. Rhodium plating can last for years, but in some instances, it does wear out, you’ll notice that rhodium has worn off if your white gold starts to show the yellow gold that’s underneath. That said, don’t panic, you can always repair your white gold by sending it to a jeweler who can replate it with rhodium, making it brand new again.