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topic 32436

I suspect an inferior metal was used to repair my ring


Ed. note; This is an interesting thread, and only one of many. Before you get too confused, you might want to start with our FAQ on Rhodium Plating and White Gold to get an overall understanding :-)

 2004

I was married in 1987. My wedding band was soldered onto my engagement ring and first year anniversary ring in 1988. I have never had any problems with this ring set. This past July I lost one of the diamond chips and took it to a jeweler to replace. The jeweler also repaired the stone setting that holds the stone (sorry I can't think of the term - prongs?).

Approximately two months after getting my rings back, I noticed that there seemed to be some tarnishing at the base of the stone setting that was repaired. I returned to the jeweler and was told that the jeweler places rings in a "pickle pot" to remove any dirt etc. that may adhere to the ring while it is being repaired. I was told that sometimes some of the "dirt" or whatever is missed so the ring needed to be immersed in the "pickle pot" again. I thought this was odd considering I hadn't noticed this tarnishing when I first got the ring back (in fact, I marveled at how clean it looked, like new). I was told that if the tarnish came back, to return with the ring.

About a week and a half later, the tarnish returned so I took the ring back. Then I was given a story about how the ring set was old and the plating used at that time (I can't remember the name - ridium or something) is not commonly used now. I asked what material the jeweler used on the setting and I was told white gold without a plating substance. I suspect the jeweler used an inferior metal, hence the tarnishing. I remember from high school chemistry that gold is an inert metal and doesn't react with anything. After perusing the questions posted on your website, I confirmed that my hunch was right.

The ring set is currently back at the jewelers again and I am supposed to be contacted when the "problem" is found. I want to arm myself with information before I return to pick it up. Is it possible for white gold to tarnish? Isn't it normal practice to plate all jewelry after repairs? I am reluctant to pay more to have my ring repaired (again) when it should have been done properly in the first place. Thanks for your patience in reading this rather long story and I appreciate any advice/assistance you can offer me.

Madeleine Kilcullen
Provincial Government office - Prince George, British Columbia, Canada


2004

I have had my engagement ring for less than a year and it's already had to be re-rhodium(ed) as they called it?! Does this mean my ring is not true white gold? Is this normal? It doesn't actually flak off it just starts to fade to a duller more of a silver look over time! I was lucky and got the warranty so this is done free whenever I want, but the burden is having to send it off for a week at a time. Is there anything I can do to keep my ring from doing this?

Heather Crouch
Homeowner - Lynchburg, Virginia


2004
METAL      SYMBOL  HARDNESS 
Platinum   Pt      4 to 4.5 
Palladium  Pd      4 to 4.5 
Rhodium    Rh      5 (Probably what was mentioned at the jeweler) 
Ruthenium  Ru      6.5 
Iridium    Ir      6.5 
Osmium     Os      7
 

Commonly Rhodium was plated over sterling articles to provide a bright finish, it has a high reflectivity index and a very high hardness when electroplated over an article. However it is tricky stuff, most likely what happened was that the original plating on the ring was contaminated by the silver (and pretty much anything can contaminate Rhodium, aluminum, iron, lead, etc.) and flaked off in the pickle bath. So I can say that the jeweler was probably not trying to cheat you, he's just probably having a time figuring out how to refinish the ring with the same material. I hope this helps some.

Marc Banks
- Elizabeth City, North Carolina


Click on graphic for "NickelAlert" test kit:
nonickel test kit
2004

I received a white gold ring. After about 4 months I developed a severe allergy and cannot wear the ring for more that 6 hours without developing a reaction that will take 3 weeks to clear. I went to a jeweler (not where the ring was purchased) who explained that I needed to find out what was mixed with the yellow gold to make it white gold. In the meantime she replated it with a new rhodium plating to see if that would help. I did for about 2 weeks then the allergy came back. I have confirmed with the selling jeweler that the ring is 24k white gold mixed with palladium.

My question is, it seems like more people have allergies to nickel. Since the ring is 24k with palladium, what would my options be? I have a 14k yellow gold wedding band with diamonds that causes no problem. Does 24k white gold cause severe allergies after 4 months?

Lisa S.
Home owner - Miami, Florida


2004

Lisa,

I first of all suggest you get your rash checked out by a dermatologist; this will confirm or otherwise the possibility of you being allergic to nickel. Secondly, I think you are being bamboozled about science. White gold is an alloy of pure gold with either silver or palladium added. Until quite recently jewelers used nickel as the alloying agent, but as you know people can be allergic to nickel. Anyway, pure gold is 24 karat; when other metals are added to purity is reduced, so if you have (say) 18 karat gold, the amount of pure gold is 75% (18/24) and there is 25% "impurity". White gold is usually sold as 18, 14 or 9 Karat, so it can have 75%, 58.3% or 37.5% gold, the remainder is made up of other metals. To say something is 24 karat pure white gold is therefore misleading; yes it is "pure" white gold, but white gold contains other metals that are not gold! In other words, they are saying that a mixture is "pure". In my opinion you have been misled by the jewelers into thinking you have pure gold metal in a white form; this is NOT the case.

In reality, white gold is usually actually slightly yellowish in colour, so many jewelers electroplate it with rhodium to give the article a nice bright shiny white finish. Unfortunately this plating does not last very long and even reputable jewelers say it should be redone every 12-18 months to maintain its colour. I suspect the jeweler who did yours didn't put as much rhodium on as perhaps he should have. There is a good article about this on www.giletts.com.au. Hope this helps you, but don't blame the person who gave you the ring - they probably didn't know they were being misled either!

trevor crichton
Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK


2004

Dear Lisa!

Commercial white gold alloys are of two kinds- palladium based white gold(expensive) and nickel based white gold (cheaper). Yellow gold contains no nickel at all. Maybe you have allergy to palladium?

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia


2005

Hi, my hubby recently gave me a white gold ring for Christmas. It has a row of diamonds and is 14 kt with a mirrored finish. I noticed that the ring has acquired quite a few "scuff" marks already. I try to be so careful with it but it's not as "perfect" as it was a couple weeks ago. Does 14 kt white gold tend to not keep a smooth flawless finish?

Debbie L
homeowner - Vancouver, BC, Canada


2005

Gold is SOFT, 14k gold is only about 50% gold and the rest is either Nickel or another metal. The ring will take scratches and nicks easily, they can be polished out later on, but depending the depth they might not come back out. If this is your wedding band, I would suggesting doing what I do, have two rings, one that you wear day to day, and one for special occasions.

Now I assume that your ring didn't have any plating problems, which is good, and I would suggest taking the ring back to the store you got it from for any work.

Marc Banks
- Elizabeth City, North Carolina


2005

Hi Madeleine, you problem could be something as simple as the type of repair solder used on the white gold. Some types of low temperature solders used for repair will discolor rapidly. In some cases I have seen silver solder used instead of a proper white gold solder for this type of repair. Silver solder will darken rapidly and appear black in color. Hopefully your jeweler is more skilled and did not make this mistake.

Hi Heather, its good that you have a warranty for the plating. Your ring is white gold, so don't worry about that issue. The issue really is about the thickness of the rhodium plating being provided by your jeweler. Typically you can expect to have it replated every 6-8 months. More information on this is available in the FAQ section (www.finishing.com) on this site.

Hi Lisa, you may have a metal allergy, but since your yellow gold ring is not causing problems, I would bet lunch that your white gold palladium ring has a small amount of nickel in it. It is a misconception that "all" palladium white gold alloys are nickel free. Many palladium white gold rings are nickel free. Some manufacturers will use both palladium and nickel in their alloys to improve physical characteristics. This works great for die struck jewelry designs. For lost wax cast jewelry designs it is not so great because the nickel/palladium alloy is not homogeneous and the nickel oxides "leach" out when exposed to perspiration. In your case if the ring was made locally using lost wax casting processes, the palladium white gold could have been contaminated with or mixed with a nickel based white gold material. I would recommend that you consider having your ring replaced with platinum or palladium white gold, assuming you can verify its metal content.

Happy New Year to all, Dave

David Vinson
Metal Arts Specialties - Leonard, Michigan


2005

Hi, I came across this site looking for information on repairing a silver ring. I had it sized smaller so the person I took it to made a cut and "glued" it together or so it seemed. The seal broke and now my ring band has a gap. I am taking it to another jeweler who will be using white gold to full in the gap for 20$ good price. I know the ring isn't worth what I've paid plus the 20 but its very lovely.

to answer some gold questions:

-if it DOES NOT have a 14k, 10k something k mark.. its plated. its very common to have a 14k plated over silver ring.
- 14k white gold turns a lovely slight golden tone to the white over time.

- Rhodium plated anything means its not true gold. I don't see why you would plate a gold ring? might as well get a silver plated rhodium ring and save some money

- gold will never tarnish a dark color but can become dirty as any metal would so you can use a gold tarnish remover and the gold will become more shiny.

-if anybody decides to size down a silver ring.. make sure to ask if they will be bonding the silver together and not soldering it( the seal will break)

-24k is the more pure gold you can get.. they do have 14k nickel free gold but its rare to find in stores.

- gold rings tend to scuff, but its less noticeable in white gold. the higher the gold 18k 24k the more likely marks will appear. this gold is softer.

Wendy Chin
- Bay Area, California



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