Ring maintenance: rhodium plating white gold

White gold is less expensive than platinum and often used in engagement rings as well as other pieces.

White gold is less expensive than platinum and often used in engagement rings as well as other pieces.

A very common jewelry repair is the re-plating of a white gold ring. If you've been following us for a while, you'll understand all about white gold and how it isn't really white. But if you're rather new to jewelry, this is must-know information.

Over time, white gold will fade to a yellowish color. Why???

There is no such thing as white gold in nature. (OMG! I remember when I learned this essential fact!) White gold is simply yellow gold alloyed with other white metals like zinc and nickel. It will just about always retain some of that yellowish tint. To make it cool and bright, most white gold rings are plated with a very thin coating of rhodium, a pure white metal. But like all types of plating, it wears off after a while depending on how the piece is worn.

Rhodium is a silvery white metal that is part of the platinum family. Unlike silver though, it does not oxidize and stays bright and shiny. White gold rings are almost always plated with a microscopic layer of rhodium plating.

The fortunate thing is rhodium re-plating is an easy repair, quick to do, and relatively inexpensive.

The process of rhodium plating requires a current to run through the metal -- for the purpose of our discussion, the white gold. The rhodium then binds to the white gold which is conducting the current. Since diamonds and other gemstones don’t conduct electricity, they will be safe from the rhodium plating.