Serious Education ... plus the most fun you can have in metal finishing.
Can an 18K white gold necklace be turned back to yellow gold?
Q. Several months ago I became slightly over-enthusiastic about 18k gold and purchased a beautiful 38 gr necklace and 26 gr matching bracelet in white gold from an ebay seller. I got an exceptionally good deal but had never purchased white gold before and in truth... I hate it. I love the necklace and bracelet style but absolutely could not afford the purchase of another set of the same caliber in yellow gold. I just saw an auction where the seller is telling his buyers that white gold "can easily be change back to yellow gold if you prefer that." Is this TRUE? It certainly sounds wonderful but simply sounds too good to be true. Can you enlighten me?
Thank you.Wendy [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
jewelry enthusiast - Townsend, Delaware, USA
A. White gold cannot be simply changed to yellow gold.
Good luck!Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia
A. What makes the gold white in the first place is that the gold (which IS a yellow color) is mixed with other metals that give the white appearance. However, the "white" gold isn't the brilliant white that people have gotten used to seeing, so it is often coated with Rhodium to brighten it.
If someone was trying to make a yellow gold piece look like white gold, they could just coat it with Rhodium - as long as the Rhodium was thick enough to not wear off immediately the piece would look like any other Rhodium coated white gold piece. This may be what was done with the pieces that came with the claim that they could be "turned back into yellow gold".
Actual white gold though can't be turned back into yellow gold without removing the other metals that made it white in the first place - and although I've never done any gold purification, I presume that this includes melting it.
So, can you turn your white gold back into yellow gold - No, sorry.
However, that isn't REALLY the end of the story. You could (depending on your budget and the piece) try to find a plater that does gold plating that could PLATE yellow gold onto the white gold piece. In effect, this would be the exact opposite of what I described above - it would make a white gold piece look like a yellow gold piece. It would also have the same problems - the yellow gold would eventually wear off and need replating, just the same as Rhodium does; a large amount of the headache this would cause could be removed by getting a thicker gold plating, but the cost would go up with that as well.
If you are determined to have the piece in yellow gold rather than white, and if you at least have some reasonable budget to accomplish this with (but significantly less than the replacement cost of the piece), I would look through the job shop listings here on finishing.com (go to the main page) and try to find a plater that does gold plating. Then, explain to them exactly what you are looking to do (make a white gold piece look like yellow gold through plating) and ask them what they think: Be forewarned, I've never actually HEARD of someone doing this, I have no idea what complications there are or what the cost would be or if it is even feasible - But they would be the ones that can tell you all of that.
I HIGHLY recommend looking for a reputable plater and asking them the questions rather than going to your local jeweler and asking their opinion - you will typically get a much more informative and knowledgeable answer from the plater.
Accurate Anodizing Inc.
Compton, California, USA
A. Pertaining to the question of can white gold be turned back to yellow gold.
The person that last responded to this question knows what he is talking about but his final conclusion is a little off.
White gold can be changed back to yellow gold but he is absolutely right it is not a simple process. To change it back he was right in saying that the gold has to be melted. But he was not in saying that the metal that give yellow gold it white appearance can't be eraticated. It can it would have to go through the process of refining the gold the white alloy can be added and it can be taken away.
This process is not the cheapest of process so if you were doing it on a small scale it would not be worth it. But the person you saw on ebay more than likely has enough traffic to make it worth his while or he may just specially make the piece in yellow gold.
I believe that touches on everything I had to say I hope it helps.
- Bowie, Maryland, United States
I want to thank the folks that posted a follow up answer to my question regarding the white gold. The explanations helped IMMENSELY. I would NEVER plate my set though. I'm not an idiot. ;-) I decided to keep the WG set due to its value. Since learning my lesson, I said the heck with it, & picked up more 18k than I can publicly admit. lol Merci beaucoup! - WendyWendy (returning)
- Townsend, Delaware, USA
January 26, 2011
There are some home plating kits that do a nice job.
Check on ebay or on the net 24k gold plating kit; comes with cleaner, gold solution for about 30 dollars
- Florida, United States
May 21, 2012
Q. Can anyone tell me what kind of link this is? It's 14k white gold I just do not know the link --
- Jersey city New Jersey USA
October 7, 2014
A. That is called a byzantine link.Julie Parisi
Julie Parisi Art - PHOENIX, Arizona, USA
December 17, 2016
Q. Can a plating be professionally removed? If op's white gold jewelry is really rhodium-plated yellow gold (assuming that is easy to determine), can she just get the rhodium taken off?Peggy Lawlor
- Edmonton, Canada
A. Hi Peggy. A plating can be removed if there is a good chemical or electrochemical treatment which can dissolve the plating without attacking the substrate. Although this allows most platings to be removed from most substrates, gold and rhodium are so inert and similar that the rhodium plating cannot be removed from gold this way. Sometimes there is a layer of nickel plating between the gold and rhodium, and some people have reported success in this case because they dissolve the nickel, so the rhodium that was attached to it falls off.
Jewelers may also be able to abrade the rhodium off with polishing sticks if the shape is simple enough.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey