White Gold Tarnish

If you have a piece of white gold jewelry, you may have noticed that as time passes and you’ve worn your white gold jewelry that it has begun to tarnish or lose its mirror-like finish. If that has happened to you, you’ve come to the right place as we will discuss: does white gold tarnish and how you can keep your white gold pieces from tarnishing or turning yellow.

Does White Gold Tarnish?

No, white gold does not tarnish because it is one of the least reactive metals on earth. So, if you’ve noticed that your white gold jewelry is tarnishing, chances are your jewelry really isn’t white gold. On the other hand, if you’ve noticed that your white gold jewelry is turning yellow, this is likely due to the layer of rhodium wearing down, exposing the yellow gold underneath. We will explain more below.

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How to Care for White Gold Jewelry?

Caring for your white gold jewelry is simple, here are a few things you can try to keep your white gold looking new, preventing it from tarnishing, and turning yellow:

  1. Avoid doing dishes while wearing your jewelry
  2. Avoid getting your jewelry wet
  3. Avoid getting soap and cleaning agents on your jewelry
  4. Take off your jewelry before swimming
  5. Take off your jewelry before showering
  6. Take off your jewelry before performing activities that will place too much wear and tear on your jewelry
  7. Not wearing your white gold jewelry all of the time

If you followed these instructions and the rhodium plating on your white gold jewelry wore out, don’t worry, you can still restore your jewelry by having a professional re-plate your jewelry with rhodium.

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Why Does White Gold Turn Yellow?

To understand why white gold turns yellow, here is a quick lesson about how white gold is made.

Naturally, there is no such thing as natural white gold. In fact, all white gold jewelry is really made of yellow gold. Yellow gold is taken and a microscopic layer of a metal known as rhodium is added to yellow gold to create the white gold jewelry that we have all come to adore.

Since only a very thin layer of rhodium is added to yellow gold to give it the platinum-like finish, it often wears out, exposing the real yellow gold that’s underneath the surface.

Most of the time, the rhodium plating on the portion of the jewelry that’s touching your skin wears out first because of the constant friction between the jewelry and your skin.

So, don’t be surprised if you take off your white gold ring and find out the inner portion is yellowish. This is the rhodium wearing down, exposing the real gold. People often mistake this yellowing as tarnishing, in reality, it’s just the real yellow gold showing.

If this has happened to you, don’t panic, as this can easily be fixed by a process known as rhodium replating. More on this below.

So, at this point, you should know that while white gold does not tarnish, it may become yellow due to the wearing down of the microscopic layer of rhodium.

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How to Care for White Gold Jewelry?

Caring for your white gold jewelry is simple, here are a few things you can try to keep your white gold looking new:

  1. Avoid doing dishes while wearing your jewelry
  2. Avoid getting your jewelry wet
  3. Avoid getting soap and cleaning agents on your jewelry
  4. Take off your jewelry before swimming
  5. Take off your jewelry before showering
  6. Take off your jewelry before performing activities that will place too much wear and tear on your jewelry
  7. Not wearing your white gold jewelry all of the time

If you followed these instructions and the rhodium plating on your white gold jewelry wore out, don’t worry, you can still restore your jewelry by having a professional re-plate your jewelry with rhodium.

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Rhodium Replating Discolored White Gold

If your white gold jewelry id discolored or is showing the yellow gold underneath, you can fix it by finding a jewelry repair store that does rhodium replating.

Rhodium replating is as the name implies, reapplying a thin layer of rhodium to replace the worn-out layer of rhodium plating on your jewelry that’s exposing the yellow gold underneath.

Rhodium replating is the best solution that will restore your white gold jewelry to its original glory, making it look new and shiny white again.

White gold originally comes with a thin layer of rhodium plating. Rhodium plating is what gives white gold its chrome, mirror-like finish. So, when this layer wears out, replating a white gold ring, necklace, or bracelet will make it look new again.

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Is it Normal For White Gold to Turn Yellow?

Yes, it is absolutely normal for white gold to turn yellow. Some people mistake this yellowing of white gold for tarnishing, rest assured, if your white gold looks worn out or it’s turning yellow, this is 100% normal.

As we’ve explained before, white gold isn’t really white. Yellow gold is usually coated with a layer of rhodium, which has a chrome, white color. The rhodium layer is so thin, that it’s normal for it to wear down with time, especially if you’re wearing your white gold jewelry all the time.

If your white gold ring, bracelet, or necklace starts yellowing, contact a jewelry repair shop and ask them if they can replate your jewelry with rhodium. For most pieces of white gold jewelry, it costs about $50 to $100 to get them rhodium replated.

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Why Doesn’t White Gold Jewelry Tarnish?

White gold jewelry does not tarnish because gold and rhodium are some of the least reactive metals known to man. Since gold and rhodium do not react to elements such as oxygen and moisture, they keep their shiny color with little maintenance and do not tarnish.

If you have a piece of white gold jewelry and it has tarnished, you may want to check to ensure that’s it’s really white gold because white gold, rarely if ever, tarnishes.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How to fix discolored white gold?

At this point, we have shown that the yellowishness or discoloration of white gold is due to the rhodium plating wearing down. The fix is simple, you need to get your white gold jewelry replated with rhodium. Replating will restore your jewelry to its original mirror-like finish. To keep your white gold jewelry from wearing out again, follow the white gold care tips that we mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Does all white gold turn yellow or get discolored?

Yes, almost every piece of white gold jewelry, such as white gold rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earings, will at some point turn yellow or become discolored. This happens because white gold is really made of yellow gold that’s plated with rhodium for the white color when the rhodium wears down, it exposes the layer of yellow gold underneath. So, don’t be surprised if your white gold turns yellow, this is absolutely normal and can easily be fixed by applying a new lawyer of rhodium.

How much does rhodium replating cost?

Rhodium replating costs anywhere from $50 to $120. The amount of money you will pay to re-plate your white gold jewelry depends on the surface area of your jewelry because that affects the amount of rhodium that’s needed for the plating process. Also, the cost of replating depends on how much rhodium has worn down and the thickness of the layer of rhodium you want for your jewelry. The thicker the layer, the higher the cost of re-plating.

Does polishing white gold keep it from becoming yellow?

No, polishing white gold may be good for removing scratches or imperfections, but every time you polish white gold, you are removing a portion of the microscopic layer of rhodium, exposing more of the yellow gold underneath the layer of rhodium. So, if you’re polishing your white gold too often, you may be doing your jewelry a disservice and you’ll probably have to get your jewelry replated with rhodium to restore its white mirrory finish.

What to do when your white gold becomes discolored?

If you have a white gold ring, bracelet, or necklace that has a yellowish hue, you can either embrace the new color, or you can have your jewelry rhodium replated to restore its white mirrory finish.

How do I take care of my white gold engagement ring?

You can take care of your white gold engagement ring by not wearing it all the time, taking it off while washing the dishes, taking it off while swimming, and preventing it from coming into contact with cleaning agents.

Does 10k, 14k, or 18k gold tarnish?

No, none of these karats of white gold should tarnish, however, you may notice some yellowing as you place wear and tear on your white gold jewelry.

Should white gold tarnish?

No, white gold should not tarnish.

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