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topic 13132

White gold or Rhodium plating -- confusion or deception?


 

Q. My son just bought a "white gold" engagement ring. After just 3 weeks it started to change to yellow. My reading tells me that there is a white gold alloy, and a rhodium dipped (plated) white gold. Is this true? If so, how does the public know what they are buying? Can they both be sold as "white gold"?

Ronald Anderson
- Hicksville, New York


 

A. Hi Ronald. There is no white gold in nature; 24 kt (pure) gold is always yellow. But jewelry tends to be something like 12 kt -- half gold and half some other metals. If those other metals are copper and silver, the yellow color persists. If those other metals are nickel and palladium, they have a bleaching effect and a white-ish gold results. Depending on the exact formulation, the color can range from somewhat yellowish to satisfactorily white. Your grandmother's ring was high quality white gold. Generally, the whiter, the more costly to formulate.

However, most white gold jewelry today has an additional layer of Rhodium plating on it. It's not primarily about deception: it's that we live in an age of "bling" where most people want the brilliant, dazzling, diamond-like brightness that only rhodium plating, and no other material in the world, can offer. Rhodium plating makes diamonds look bigger and better because from even a foot away it's hard to see where the stones end and the metal begins. Many women today would not be satisfied with grandma's unplated ring. But even the best plating is very thin and won't last forever.

So here's the three problems in brief:
1). Most people don't realize it's plated and can be shocked and disappointed when they find out; they think in terms of the durability of grandma's solid ring, without realizing that they probably would not have been happy with grandma's white but bling-less ring.
2). Once the jewelry industry started plating rings, they started settling for cheaper, lower quality, yellower, white gold because "it will be plated over anyway". But the need for frequent replating is much more apparent when the underlying gold isn't white enough. For this reason yellow gold rings should never be rhodium plated.
3). The quality of plating can vary greatly. A jeweler applying rhodium from a teacup of solution in a back room doesn't deliver the thickness and quality of plating that a modern instrument-controlled plating shop specializing in jewelry delivers.

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


 

thumbs up signThanks for taking the time to reply to my inquiry. I truly appreciate your courtesy in replying!

Ronald Anderson
- Hicksville New York USA



Do the diamonds have to be removed for replating?

Rhodium Plating System
 

Rhodium Plating Solution

October 24, 2008

Q. When a jeweler recoats a yellowish-tinted white gold ring in Rhodium, do all of the diamonds have to come out of the setting before it can be "re-rhodiumed?" What about if it is coated in Platinum before it is re-rhodiumed? I guess I may be paranoid, but I don't want my diamonds changed out. And does coating it in Platinum first really provide that much more wear, and therefore less Rhodium recoatings?

Emily Lusk
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana


October 27, 2008

A. Hi Emily. The diamonds do not have to be removed. In general, neither do other stones, but remember that pearls are not stones, and what is safe for natural stones may not be safe for pearls and artificially colored stones.

Sorry, I am not personally familiar with platinum plating under the rhodium, but the thicker and whiter the metal under the rhodium, the less the contrast between it and the rhodium plating, so the longer you can go between replating.

Regards,

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



January 6, 2009

Q. I have a ring that was my grandmothers but it's yellow gold which I don't wear so I brought it to the jewelers to see if there could be something either overlaid or even to change out the three small stones into a different setting of white gold. They recommended rhodium plating and explained I'd need to redo this up to a couple times a year depending on how often I wore the ring. Was there a better alternative to the rhodium plating if it wears so easily?

Heidi Gorecki
- Troy, New York, USA


January 7, 2009

A. Hi, Heidi. Rhodium is the best plating, but plating is very thin and rings suffer a great deal of wear. If you wear it very rarely and the plating is done well, it may last a fair while. If you wear it every day, even twice a year replating may not be enough to conceal the strong yellow ring color.

Regards,

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



White gold that doesn't require rhodium plating

February 17, 2012

Q. Dear Finishing.com,

The situation is that I may be forced to buy a white gold ring (versus some other metal) for my significant other, and the potential lack of quality irritates me to no end. So barring my attempts to convince her of something else... I have 2 main questions.

1. How does an average consumer evaluate a white gold rhodium plated ring to see if it is a quality product? While it seems like the standards are pretty clear about what is a quality product (per your site) it seems that the consumer has to rely on assurances rather than inspection, to see that they have what they are lead to believe they have.

For instance is there a method to evaluate the type of white gold (nickel mixed etc.) it the ring is finished and plated?

Or is there a reliable way to see how it was cast etc. to see if the plating or finishing will come off quickly?

Or is there a good way to see the thickness of the plating?

2. If you receive/must buy a suspect quality ring is there a good way to either mitigate the wear or fix it?

For instance if I was going to re-plate it with a better than new thickness and quality rhodium plate, when should I do it (when it starts to wear?), can I do it at the first instance (to avoid grief), and what should I expect out of the process. Or is this an idiotic idea?

Please help; potentially suffering for "fashion" isn't in my nature, but I would rather not disappoint her. I would ask about a specific brand, but then I don't want to irk you. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Carl

Carl Love
- Chicago, Illinois, USA


February 20, 2012

A. Hi Carl. I understand your frustration and annoyance, and share it :-)

While I may not be able to exactly answer your questions, I can recapitulate in a way that may be helpful...

There is such a thing as white gold that is white enough that it does not "require" plating, such as "Stuller X1 White Gold" or W.R. Cobb's "Precise White Gold". I put the word "require" in quotes because such things are still in the eye of the beholder. The very finest, whitest, white gold will still not have the "bling" of rhodium plating.
If I were you, and cost wasn't too much of an object (it probably isn't for a diamond ring where the diamond costs a lot more than the metal), I would get one of those unplated rings. Then if it did not have enough bling for your fiancee, you could get it rhodium plated, knowing that the underlying metal is absolutely as white as possible, so any contrast as the plating wears will be minimal. Google "X1 white gold" and "Cobb Precise White Gold". Good luck!

Regards,

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



March 8, 2014

Q. Hello,

I received my grandmother's wedding ring as my engagement ring. I then got a wedding band to match it. I was told I shouldn't fuse them together because my grandmother's ring doesn't need to be "dipped". Is there a difference between old white gold and new white gold? Will it hurt to dip both rings?

Natalie Lepore
- Sarnia, ontario. canada


March 2014

A. Hi Natalie. I don't think there is any reason you can't have both rings rhodium plated so they match exactly.

There is white gold available today, like the previously mentioned Stuller X1 and Cobb Precise White Gold, that is of at least equal "whiteness" to your grandmother's ring, but it's also true that a lot of today's white gold, if not most of it out there, isn't. Best wishes.

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


March 11, 2014

A. Old white golds tended to use palladium to produce the white color, whereas the newer white golds mainly use nickel. A 30 sec XRF analysis will distinguish between the two. There are also spot tests. I would think the palladium variety would be considered of a higher quality. Also, there is no nickel and, thus, no allergy problems.

The only reason I would rhodium plate would be to seal the nickel, in case the wearer is allergic. Otherwise, I think you would turn a silk purse into a sow's ear. Good white gold has a softness about it and, when clean, you can see a faint yellow color. To me, when you put rhodium on it, you cheapen the appearance. It looks like chrome. Very ugly on jewelry.

Chris Owen
- Nevada, Missouri, USA


March 2014

thumbs up signThanks Chris. Valid points, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we live in an age of bling where, it seems, most people like the rhodium plating because it's hard to tell from a few feet away where the diamonds end and the rhodium starts. I think it's of limited assistance in sealing the nickel away from the skin though, because it is thin and cracked.

Regards,

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



July 31, 2014

Q. Hello. I have a yellow gold engagement ring (diamond head it platinum) and a yellow gold wedding band and wanted to get them dipped. My question is, is which will last longer? Rhodium or Platinum. I am a little sketchy about doing this and was wondering if I got them soldered together would it make it so they wouldn't need to be redipped as often. Please help!!

Susan Walston
- Raleigh, North Carolina USA


July 2014

A. Hi Susan. Soldering them together won't help, and has the potential for looking bad. Platinum is a softer silvery color and rhodium is a flashier chrome-like color. Which look you prefer would probably be a better basis for choosing than longevity, which will depend on the quality of the plating more than which metal you choose.

But I'd be very wary of this. Rings suffer very high wear, and the contrast as the yellow soon shows through will be as issue; plus it will be a real pain to get the white plating off if you change your mind. Learn to love yellow gold -- you can do it :-)

Regards,

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


October 12, 2014

Q. Hello,

I've had to take my fiancé's engagement ring back to the jeweler I bought it from three or four times in less than 6 months in order to get the rhodium replated. The ring starts to turn yellow on the underside very easily. This past week, the jeweler claimed he received an email from the company he got my band from stating there was a defect in the batch they used for my ring and it needs to be replaced. I can't help but feel like this is a little fishy. My family has used this jeweler many times in the past, so he seems trustworthy enough. Should I be concerned?

Phil Smith
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA



Does Rhodium plating process remove metal from the ring?

November 2, 2014

Q. My wife was told that Rhodium plating removes metal from her ring each time it is re-plated. I find this hard to believe. She is concerned that eventually her ring will wither away into nothing. Is there any truth to this?

Craig Peters
- Madison Wisconsin, USA

November 2014

A. Hi Craig. There is no truth to rhodium re-plating removing metal from the ring. Unfortunately there is validity to your wife's concern that her ring may eventually wither away. Rings do wear, and a thin engagement ring worn every day for the better part of a lifetime may wear all the way through. My wife is on her second, or maybe it's her third, setting :-(

Regards,

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



May 13, 2015

Q. Hello, I have a white gold wedding at that was soldered together. I need it replated but I was told the plating may not take where the solder line is, between the rings due to them being so close together, and between the prongs holding the diamond. That contradicts everything I read and now I'm skeptical in handing my ring and my money over to have the work done. Shouldn't coverage be on the "entire" ring? That's what I would like to see, otherwise what's the point?

zsuzsanna leypold
- shorewood, illinois, usa


May 2015

A. Hi zsuzsanna. It might be possible that ...
- the jeweler is planning to "brush plate" the ring with a stylus instead of dipping it, and he can't reach that solder line and between the prongs;
- or that he knows the solder line is of a different metal and it won't plate;
- or that he can't polish that solder line and under the prongs, and he was actually trying to tell you that it consequently won't shine, rather than that it won't get plated.

But I'd just take it to another jeweler rather than going with someone who has to hedge their bet that way -- because I think it's very doable.

Regards,

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


May 14, 2015

thumbs up signYour response is greatly appreciated!

zsuzsanna leypold [returning]
- shorewood, illinois, usa



June 25, 2015

Q. Hi,I've just showed a friend of mine my 'white gold' engagement ring and she has told me that it isn't real white gold as it has faded to a yellowish colour. I've had the rhodium redone twice as part of insurance when it was bought but it has faded again. It cost my husband a lot of money and I was wondering if you could let me know if that's the norm, please. Thank you.

Sharon Higgins
- Kilmarnock scotland


July 2015

A. Hi Sharon. As you can see from this thread and a dozen like it just on this one website, its a very common problem. Whether it's the "norm" is a harder question, but maybe not the right question. If it has faded three times in relatively short order, it's certainly not white enough for you. You'll have to either have the diamond(s) reset in a whiter white gold like the "Stuller X1" or "W.R. Cobb Precise" or send it to a good jewelry plating shop and hope for the best. Good luck.

Regards,

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



October 27, 2015

Q. Can a 14K white gold chain be rhodium plated?

Lauren Tally
hobbyist - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA


October 2015

A. Hi Lauren. Certainly. It's no particular problem to rhodium plate a white gold necklace. Most of the white gold necklaces you see in jewelry stores probably are rhodium plated. Good luck.

Regards,

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


December 13, 2015

I have a rhodium plated ring and want to have the main stone swapped out for a stone I like more. Will the rhodium plating present an issue for the jeweler I take it to?

Eala Clarke
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


February 2016

A. Hi Eala. Probably not a problem. But even if it is, the jeweler can touch up or re-apply the rhodium plating pretty easily.

Regards,

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


January 1, 2016

thumbs up signI just wanted to add something to this thread about white gold rings to suggest that omitting the rhodium plating should be a consideration, depending on the look you want.

I have three stacked white gold bands (I'm forgetting if they are 2 or 2.5mm)--the one I wear on top has three small bezeled diamonds in a close-knit row, the middle one is the plain wedding band, and the third is an infinity band with a mix of small, light-colored flush mount sapphires and diamonds with spaces between them (representing family birth stones).

I opted out of rhodium plating--personally, shiny metal doesn't do much for me and I like the warmth of the slightly yellow tone. Seems people in this thread think of this as a bad thing, but for me, it was a choice. I also wanted my bands to have a "brushed" finish, and this is quite nice--makes the tiny stones "pop" a bit and glisten. It is a pretty and subtle effect, which I like a lot, and I have gotten many compliments on my stacked rings. My husband and I had our rings custom made by a very reputable jeweler in our area (not a large national chain but a small local business). I also stop by from time to time for professional cleaning and re-buffing.

Jeanette Andonian
- Portland Maine USA



May 10, 2016

Q. Are brand new diamond 14k white gold studs in need of Rhodium plating from the onset of use? Also would using rhodium cause the new stud earrings to become magnetic?

Briefly: This Mother's Day I was getting a diamond ring re-purposed to a set of 14k white gold stud diamond earrings. The jeweler presented the brand new martini style studs and I liked the look. After paying for them I wore them out of the store to my car and inspected them more closely. There were molding lines at the basket and when I tested them with a magnet, it stuck!
I went back into the store and explained what was unsatisfactory. The Jeweler buffed out the lines then told me the settings had been Rhodium plated and that is why the earrings stuck to a magnet. I did not ask to have that done.
Is what I was told fact or fiction? I think what they did hurt the value of my jewelry.
I feel like I was duped.
Any insight would be appreciated (way to spoil my Mother's Day present ...)
Thanks in advance,
Cindy

Cindy Coleman
Jewelry enjoyer! - Arnold, Missouri USA

simultaneous May 12, 2016

A. That doesn't sound good. If they stick hard to a magnet they are ferromagnetic. Neither gold or rhodium are ferro-magnetic. Likely they are just plated steel or nickel.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio
- Vista, California


May 12, 2016

A. Hello Cindy, the jewelry store employee was wrong. Rhodium plating is not magnetic, and either is Rhodium in its form. Go back to the store and ask to speak to the manager. You want to tell the manager that there are no precious metals that are magnetic, and you want your money back. I just hope you didn't pay good money for the jewelry. If they give you a problem with a refund, report them to the BBB. Good luck to you.

Mark Baler
Process Engineering - Phoenix, Arizona USA


May 2016

A. Hi. The only thing I would add is that to my knowledge, the stems/posts of stud earrings are not usually made of precious metal, but of surgical stainless steel. I'm a little confused about whether these were supposedly made from your ring or you changed your mind and went new, or maybe just the diamonds came from your old ring.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"


July 2, 2016

I've worked in a jewelers for over 10 years and i would never buy anything white gold; the rhodium can come off quite quickly and, although it's easy to sort out, it's an unwanted hassle to keep having to do this. Platinum is the way forward

Donna barty
Jeweler - London, England


July 4, 2016

Q. I hope this question wasn't asked earlier. My wife's white gold engagement ring is soldered to her white gold wedding ring. We take it to get re-rhodiumed twice a year, only the last time the wedding ring portion was accidentally re-rhodiumed to gold. They noticed the mistake, and sent it back to have it white again. It is still a gold tint. My question is after several re-rhodiums will it become white again?

Sam Sterchi
- Dundas, Illinois



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