Authoritative Answers, Fun, & Aloha -- no cost, no passwords, no popups
(as an eBay Partner & Amazon Affiliate we earn from qualifying purchases)

Home /
Site 🔍
pub     mobile?
Metal finishing Q&As since 1989


Is white gold still being made?

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 :-)


Q. When my husband told the jewelers that he wanted a white gold wedding set, they told him that nobody can make white gold anymore because nickel is used to make it white and nickel causes cancer. Is this true? And if it isn't, then what should I do? They also told us that they rhodium plate them to make them white, and after just a month our rings were already turning yellow, so we took them back and they wanted to charge us again to have them white again. Is this ok for them to be telling us this?

Morgan Qualkinbush
student - Blue Springs, Missouri

A. Fancy rings are not often made of 24K (pure) gold because it is very soft. They are made of materials like 12K gold (12 parts gold to 12 parts of other metals) or 14K gold (14 parts gold to 10 parts of other metals), etc. If these other metals are "bleaching metals" like nickel or palladium, then the alloy can be whitish in color rather than yellowish. That's what white gold is -- an alloy of gold and some white, bleaching, metals.

In the U.S., nickel has been the main white metal used for that purpose. Nickel metal may or may not be marginally carcinogenic, but lots of people are allergic to it. In Europe the white metal palladium is used instead of nickel, and some high quality manufacturers here use palladium for their white gold. Hopefully we'll see more U.S. suppliers switch to palladium.

But white gold is not brilliant, dazzling white, it is somewhat white. So, almost universally today, white gold is plated with rhodium--which is an absolutely brilliant reflective bright white color.

What you should have is a ring made of white gold that is an alloy of palladium and gold, and is a good white color, which should subsequently get a heavy high-quality plating of rhodium on it. What you apparently actually have is a yellow gold ring with a thin and low quality rhodium plating on it.

The contrast between white gold and rhodium is subtle, so that as high quality rhodium plating slowly wears, the fact that it is getting thin in spots is not dramatically evident. If rhodium is plated on top of yellow gold, as soon as there is a tiny thin spot, the contrast is startling and unacceptable. For that reason, rhodium plating yellow gold to make it white is not acceptable, and some people even consider it fradulent. Obviously, monthly replating of a wedding ring is ludicrous. Please invite the jeweler to explain their position here; meanwhile see our FAQ about rhodium plating and white gold.

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. I am reading a lot of the different inquiries about white gold tarnishing and I am still somewhat confused. I apologize if this question is repetitive. My wife and I purchased an engagement/wedding ring set approximately 3 years ago. My wife has been wearing her engagement ring for those 3 years. Her ring seems to now be turning a yellow color. I have read the different postings and I this is what I understand: White gold rings are a mixture of pure "yellow" gold and other metals creating a white color and that with a rhodium plating, which is much stronger, you may not have to re-plate your ring for maybe 7 years or so. What I don't understand is are all white gold rings or for that matter all rings plated in some shape or form? Some postings have mentioned that individuals have had white gold rings for years and have they have not tarnished whatsoever. If a ring is truly white gold,

1) will it be plated,

2) if so, how long will that plating last and

3) for normal wear and tear should a white gold ring ever appear tarnished?

Thanks for any response you may have.

David Braile
- Bellevue, Washington, USA

Hi David.

The answers to your questions are in our FAQ, but to save the effort of having to go there:

1. Most white gold rings these days will have rhodium plating on top of the white gold. That is because rhodium plating offers a scintillating bling that can't be matched by plain white gold.
2. It's very hard to predict the time between replating since it depends on so many things, including the amount of wear, how white the underlying white gold is, and how high is the quality of the rhodium plating. But a couple of years would be more appropriate than a couple of months.
3. A ring that's been worn even a few months is likely to lack the high polish and bling of a newly polished and plated ring; but a couple of years between servicing strikes me as normal.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. I have a 18K white gold diamond ring purchased in 2002. The setting is described as such in the estimate description- the ring now is turning my finger black! And the white gold is now yellow? What has happened? The jeweler is telling me the "plating" has worn off and I need to get it re-plated several times a year? is this true, if it was solid white gold I didn't think it would have done this? please help.

Victoria Adamson
personal - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

A. I found this site to be extremely helpful and should answer your questions: I just purchased a "white gold" ring and was told it was rhodium plated. I called them to make sure it was actually white gold underneath and not yellow or else I did not want it. It was white gold plated with rhodium. Judging from this article, if your ring is wearing that badly and turning your finger black, I would think it was not properly plated and take it to another jeweler for a second opinion:

Pat Wright
- lebanon Pennsylvania usa
April 19, 2012

adv.:    Discover the choice made by manufacturers
nationwide for high quality jewelry plating & finishing

red sky plating banner

(No "dead threads" here! If this page isn't currently on the Hotline your Q, A, or Comment will restore it)

Q, A, or Comment on THIS thread -or- Start a NEW Thread

Disclaimer: It's not possible to fully diagnose a finishing problem or the hazards of an operation via these pages. All information presented is for general reference and does not represent a professional opinion nor the policy of an author's employer. The internet is largely anonymous & unvetted; some names may be fictitious and some recommendations might be harmful.

If you are seeking a product or service related to metal finishing, please check these Directories:

Chemicals &
& Software

About/Contact  -  Privacy Policy  -  ©1995-2024, Pine Beach, New Jersey, USA  -  about "affil links"