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How to Change Jewelry from Yellow to White Gold

     

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Q. I have been married for a while (won't go into years as it will certainly date me) and my wedding ring is yellow gold. I'd like to change the color of it to white gold or titanium but not sure if this can be done. I like the setting so I don't want to have it reset. I have also heard of Rhodium plating (but I don't know what Rhodium is). Can someone please shed some light as to the possibility of this and which process would work best.

Thank you,

Ivette Zdeleted
- Norwalk, Connecticut


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A. Hi Ivette. Rhodium is electroplated onto jewelry and looks something like chrome, only whiter and brighter. It is a precious metal, that can be ten times the cost of gold, but is plated so thin that the cost of the rhodium is not a big deal.

Pure gold is yellow. But jewelry is rarely 24 karat pure gold because it is very soft. If you use nickel or palladium as the alloying ingredient in the gold, the alloy can be whitish. Most white gold is not bright enough for today's taste (which seems to demand a diamond-like glitter) so it is rhodium plated for a truly shiny look.

There is probably no technical reason you could not have your setting rhodium plated even though it is yellow gold rather than white gold, but the plating must be heavy to thoroughly cover the yellow color. And as the rhodium plating wears through, the contrast between rhodium and yellow gold will be quite obvious, and very frequent replating will be necessary unless you only plan to wear the ring once in a while on special occasions.

Many people are happy with rings that are made of rhodium plated high quality white gold, because the glittery rhodium can gradually wear off over the years, gradually turning from showroom sparkle to the softer look appropriate to an heirloom. But if it's yellow gold underneath, it's a constant replating issue. This is why the recent practice by mall jewelers of plating yellow gold with rhodium (instead of only plating high quality white gold with rhodium) is so completely unsatisfactory.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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Q. Hi!

I have a 14kt yellow gold ring that I would like to rhodium plate. Can someone please tell me about how long it will last and if I was to later, change my mind ... is it possible to remove (make it yellow gold again) the rhodium? I only like to wear jewelry when I go out, never around the house(work).

THANKS SO MUCH & GOD BLESS!

Teri Mdeleted
- Anaheim, California


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A. The gold ring can be Rhodium plated, but you must bear in mind that it must first be buffed and polished well then it can be plated. The plating will not last forever as the wear and tear of the ring makes it rub off quicker that bracelets or necklaces. But it will give it a brilliant shine.

Sam Obermeister
- Brooklyn, New York


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Q. I was wondering where you would take a yellow gold necklace to be changed to white gold. Also, how much does something like that cost for an 80 gram necklace? Any input would be appreciated.

Thank you,

Elan Sdeleted
- Flushing, New York


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A. You can't really change a yellow gold necklace to a white gold necklace without melting it down a starting over. White gold is yellow gold that has nickel or palladium( another precious metal) added to it to whiten it. There are very few elements that will change the color of gold with nickel being the most effective. However more and more of the population is showing allergic reactions to nickel so many are switching to palladium as a whitener. This is more expensive but actually makes a better alloy. But you have to start with the alloy and go from there. If you already have the object ( necklace) then your choices are basically limited to electroplating. The whitest of metals is silver, but silver is soft and tarnishes. Your next best bet is Rhodium, a very hard, very bright, durable and expensive precious metal that doesn't tarnish. Rhodium plating will make your necklace very bright and white. If you have it plated to a slightly heavier than usual thickness for jewelry items, it should be very durable. Most platers just put a flash coat of only 8-10 micro-inches but if you go thicker it will last a long time. I can't give you cost but it should not be too bad. The amount of metal used is very small. Just make sure you go to a reputable jeweler or the results will be poor, especially if the necklace isn't thoroughly cleaned before plating.

Tino Volpe
- Wrentham, Massachusetts


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Q. I just happen to stumble on your website when I was looking up the word rhodium. I bought a white gold ring for my fiance and after about 2 weeks we noticed that the yellow gold is showing through the white gold. Why is this happening.

Thank you,

Manny Fdeleted
- Lk. Mary, Florida


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A. We have hundreds of such complaints on line here, Manny. See our faq on rhodium plating and white gold.

But, in short, the most immediate problems are that the rhodium plating on your ring is defective (probably much too thin) and the jeweler used yellow gold under the rhodium plating instead of white gold. While white gold is not as shiny and white as rhodium plating, and the lower color scales may be grayish or slightly yellowish, still, white gold is not yellow gold.

I'd give the jeweler a chance to replate it and give you a five year guarantee on the plating.

Here we have a major problem that is costing millions of people money and heartache --with the jewelers well aware of the problem, doing nothing about it, continuing to play dumb and be misleading, refusing to label plated jewelry as plated, blaming the buyers for their nickel allergies, and doing a trashy job of plating heirlooms. They are hurting all of these people, while making our plating industry look bad -- and doing it all with impunity and not even any bad press. People often complain about lawyers and their class action suits, but I am cheering for an attorney to come forward and get rich on this one :-)

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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Q. I think I prefer yellow gold rather than white gold, white golds are very modern but some jeweler said that yellow golds are actually better than white gold, and that they prefer yellow gold because the price will always going up, is it true?

Nina Sdeleted
beauty care - Kuala Lumpur, WP, Malaysia


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A. Dear Nina S,

Value is relative. If you like white gold more, than it is more valuable to you because you get more joy out of it. However, monetarily speaking, gold comes in various karats, the highest being 24k (the highest grade being 99.99% gold). White gold is a mix of the element metal Au (gold) and other metals (as mentioned above); that's why the highest purity content of white gold is only 18k (or 75% pure gold) because you need the other 25% to be made up of metals that will "whiten" the gold out. The coating that is being mentioned (rhodium) is applied only to give it a bright white shine. But to answer your question, the more pure the gold (higher percentage of Au), the more monetarily valuable it is (as it could theoretically be recast into something else). The value of gold is considered relatively stable, and thus "keeps its value".

Sina McCants
- New York, New York


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Q. I have at present an 18k yellow gold belcher link necklace (mens 18 or 20 inch I don't remember). I would like to have it plated with something white. I didn't even know it was possible until someone told me about rhodium plating. Can someone tell me an approx. cost on having this job done? My wife has it with her in New York at present since I live in China and don't think it is possible over here. Is it possible to have it PT plated if so the cost? Are there any questions she should ask prior to giving the job to a jeweler or any advice related to this?

Thanks in advance.

Darren Sdeleted
private customer - New York, New York


January 1, 2008

Q. I went in to get my engagement ring sized and now that I have it back I am not sure if the gold that they had to add to it was really yellow gold.
When I hold it up to a yellow gold ring it is obviously yellow, and I can almost see a small spot where the metals come together, but it seems like the whole ring was plated with something yellow when they added metal to it to size it, and I want it to be pretty and white gold shiny again!

Is it normal to have that yellow tint, and hardly be able to tell the bottom bands of town apart when they are side by side? but when it is next to a silver ring it still seems slightly silver and is all very confusing!

if the jeweler did mess up is it fixable and how to I ask them about it?

Amanda Robinson
student - Fresno, California


September 29, 2009

Q. Hi my name is Sarah. I have been wearing my wedding ring for almost 4 months now and there is a noticeable red rash on my skin. On the palm side, the lines of my finger (in the area of the ring) are indented so that they look like wrinkles. The red rash is on the top of my finger. It is not itchy or irritating, but it's peeling. My ring was originally 18 k yellow gold, of high quality from Peru, but I thought the 18 K gold was too dark and manly looking.. So we got both mine and my husband's rings rhodium plated. The rhodium is starting to wear off. I was wondering what I am allergic too? The rhodium or the gold? Or something else?

Sarah Lipuma
buyer - Washington, DC


September 29, 2009

A. Hi, Sarah. There is probably nickel plating underneath the rhodium, and if your problem is a metal allergy, it's most likely that the nickel is the problem. Trying to turn your yellow ring white with rhodium plating is a temporary and not very satisfactory situation, but if that's what you want to do, it is possible to have white bronze plated onto the ring as an interlayment instead of the nickel. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

February 15, 2011

Q. Hi, I was looking on the internet to see if I could rhodium dip my necklace when I came across your website. I have a yellow gold journey diamond necklace with a box chain. I was wondering if I could get my box chain rhodium dipped as well as the pendant? It said in earlier posts you could with necklaces but I just wanted to make sure that included the chain. Many thanks in advance.

Nellie Caz
- anchorage alaska usa

February 15, 2011

A. Hi, Nellie. Although anything can theoretically be rhodium plated, there are several issues. First, as the rhodium wears thin, it will be much more noticeable earlier on yellow gold than on white gold. Second, it's a question of the amount of wear; the plating won't last long on a ring but will last a very long time on a rarely worn broach. Third is the practicality of plating the item; electrical contact is required for plating to occur; the jeweler must stretch the chain out for plating or hang it and jiggle it to make sure each link has contact, and this may make it uneconomical since most jewelers do the plating in a teacup sized plating cell.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

October 29, 2011

Q. Hi, I'm considering a 1940's rhodium plated yellow gold ring as my engagement ring.
It looks white, how do I know if this is original plating and what quality the plating is?
Is there anything else I should consider with this purchase.
Kind Regards, Rowan.

Rowan Wood
Buyer - United Kingdom

January 23, 2012

Q. I would like to use my mother's engagement ring, however, it is yellow gold and prefer the look of white gold. Is it possible to melt it down and build a ring with white gold?

Carrie Smith
- Seattle, Washington

January 24, 2012

A. Hi Rowan
Cheap replating is a $25 issue; top quality replating might be $200. Whether the plating is original or not should not be a deal breaker; but if it's a 1940s ring, and was worn, and it's yellow gold, the rhodium plating could not possibly have lasted all these years.

Hi, Carrie.
White gold is a different composition than yellow gold, so melting down one to make the other would not work.

Although doing rhodium plating on a yellow gold ring is poor practice because of the contrast as the plating wears, life is a compromise. You might get good quality rhodium plating done on your mother's ring and just plan on wearing it infrequently and having it replated frequently if it's really what you need to do.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 5, 2012

Q. I'm considering taking my yellow gold ring and having it rhodium plated. I know I need to have a thicker layer for it to last longer and that will also eventually start to wear. If I have them put a thicker layer of the rhodium on a ring that is worn everyday, about how long does it last before having to get it done again ?

Thanks !

Sarah Lange
- Cleveland, Ohio


March 30, 2012

Q. I've got a stainless & gold Rolex that I'd love to wear again, but I just don't like the GOLD color. I'd love it if it were SILVER. My jeweler said it cannot be dipped into rhodium as part of the watch is gold & the other is stainless. Is there a solution?
Thanks in advance:)

Kim Dec
- Waterford, Michigan, USA


March 30, 2012

A. Hi, Kim. Jewelry shops are not plating shops and are quite limited in their plating capacities and abilities. But a specialty jewelry plating shop can probably help you. See the banner at the top of the page.

One approach would be to selectively brush plate only the gold area. Another approach would be to properly activate the stainless steel with a Wood's nickel strike and then rhodium plate the assembly.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 15, 2012

Q. I have a white gold ring that the former owner made yellow gold. It's dull and wearing. How do I get the yellow off.

Mitzi gilliam
- Dayton, Ohio


April 16, 2012

A. Hi. Mitzi. If you are correct about the origin of the yellow color, a jeweler can probably mechanically polish the yellow color off. It's not that you absolutely can't do it yourself, but polishing is an acquired skill -- and you probably shouldn't use heirlooms as your practice pieces :-)

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 25, 2012

Q. Hi,

I recently got married- and I am now wearing my two rings together (white gold Engagement ring, and white gold wedding band) ... I am finding that in some areas, it appears to be turning yellow? Could this be from them rubbing together? Would these be considered poor quality gold bands?

Meaghan O'Rooney
- Brooklyn, New York, USA


April 26, 2012

A. Hi, Meaghan.

White gold should remain essentially white when the rhodium plating wears thin. It is possible that they are yellow gold or at least too-yellowish white gold.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 30, 2012

Q. Hi,

I have inherited a pair of solitaire earrings but they are in yellow gold. Would it be better and cost efficient to change out the settings or have them electroplated instead?

Thank you.

Suzanne Gregoire
- Kenmore, Washington, USA

April 30, 2012

A. Sorry Suzanne, you lost me. I don't know what you want and am not quite sure what you have :-)

Are you saying that you have yellow gold earrings, and you want rhodium plated earrings ... but implying that the earrings have diamonds that are big enough to justify the cost of replacing or plating the metal?

You'll find that settings that are made of good quality white gold will take much longer to "show through" the rhodium plating than your yellow gold settings, but new settings will probably cost a few hundred dollars vs. probably something like $75 to plate. So it's hard to say, but I'd probably try the replating.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 30, 2012

Q. I have a 18k White Gold Necklace that weighs around 50 D.W.T or around 78 grams. It is not diamond cut and is very White due to having Rhodium put on according to the person I bought it off. Now I tested it and it passed the acid test, and also passed the Gold Electronic tester -- however, the tester read 14k and not 18k. Why is that? Also is it possible for these precious metal readers to give a false reading? Thank you very much. And one more thing: can 24k Gold Filled or Plated jewelry pass a 8k-10k acid gold tester?

John Colombo
- Milford, Connecticut


August 10, 2012

Q. My father has offered me my late mothers wedding ring for when I get married the thing is I am allergic to yellow gold and have to have white gold is it possible to just plate the inside of the ring where it is in contact with my skin as neither my father nor myself are keen on having the whole ring turned white.

Lolly Smart
- Dudley, England


August 10, 2012

Hi Lolly. I'd suggest that you try boiling the ring in the peroxide/vinegar solution discussed on letter 33777. If that doesn't solve it, perhaps visit a dermatologist for allergy testing.

It just seems that you may have jumped to the conclusion that you are allergic to yellow and not to white based on some experiences that should not be considered conclusive. Maybe you were allergic to a gold plated ring with nickel plating under the gold? It seems highly improbable that you could be allergic to yellow gold and not to white gold, because white gold is merely yellow gold mixed with nickel or palladium.

To my knowledge there is no such thing as actual white gold plating (plating with a white mixture of gold and palladium), although most solid white gold these days has a topcoat of rhodium plating. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

December 9, 2013

Q. Hello

I'm getting married in a month and we are both students. My fiancée's mother gave me my future father in law's gordy neck chain and medallion asking me to take it as far away from Japan as possible (we live in Australia). We're wanting to melt it down and make two wedding rings from it but we don't really like the yellow gold. What should we be thinking about adding to it to get a whiter looking result? Trade some of the gold from the original for another metal? Sacrifice one of my tungsten earrings to mix?

Thanks,
Allan

Allan Schintu
Creative Artist - Perth, Western Australia


December 10, 2013

A. Hi Alan. Assuming your knowledge and jewelry skills are much better than mine, I suppose you could refine the yellow gold, removing the copper and silver from it, then adding in palladium and/or nickel to turn it whitish. But casting of precious metal alloys is beyond my knowledge. I don't think tungsten can play any role in gold jewelry, and it's not a precious metal anyway, so it has little intrinsic value; therefore it doesn't seem there is any point in ruining a set of earrings.

Tungsten gold is apparently not an alloy, but slang for gold plated tungsten -- a material used as fake gold bars. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


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