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"Help us turn our emotionally valuable yellow gold into meaningful white gold wedding rings!"

February 7, 2010

Hello, my fiance and I are not jewelry people. In trying to find a ring that will have meaning to both of us, we decided to take unused pieces of jewelry that have sentimental value or some type of family connection and make our ring from them. This also synchs up with our wish to be eco-friendly. Here is the problem: We want white gold rings but only have yellow gold jewelry. We took our stuff to a jeweler who told us this was not possible. If we have our yellow gold purified, could we then have it turned into white gold? If it can be done, what are the steps we take and what would our yield be if we have mostly 14 karat gold? Any help would be appreciated.

Cassandra Cicone
amateur/bride-to-be - Las Vegas, NV, U.S.A.

February 11, 2010

If you want to remelt your old yellow gold jewelry,and then to make white gold alloy from it that is possible,maybe your goldsmith is bit lazy.Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia

February 11, 2010

There are alloys added to the gold to harden it (14k), and to maintain that yellow look. There are different alloys added to make white gold. What your jeweler is probably saying is that the 14k yellow gold can be melted down, but it would take an experienced metallurgist or goldsmith to alloy the gold to make it 14k white gold. The goldsmith would have to compensate normal alloying techniques to overcome the alloys already in the yellow gold. If he or she did this you would no longer have 14k purity (because of the extra alloys). For example, he can't just add a double amount of zinc to get white gold. The gold has to be melted down, purified to 24k, then alloyed normally to achieve 14k white gold. All jewelers are not goldsmiths or metallurgists, but I would seek a good one if you must have it done this way.

Mark Baker
Fellow Plater - Syracuse, NY, USA

February 13, 2010

Mark is exactly right in his assessment of the problem, but I would like to expand on this a bit. There is no exact formula for the make-up of these karat alloys. Much depends on the exact colors that the maker of the jewelry preferred. Here are the general ranges of the alloying ingredients that you will find in these 14K alloys. In the case of white, Palladium can be used instead of nickel, but it's more expensive.

14K Yellow:
Gold = 58.3%
Copper = 25-40%
Silver = 4-17%
Zinc = 0.2-6%

14K White
Gold = 58.3%
Copper = 22-24%
Silver = 0-4%
Nickel = 10-12%
Zinc = 6-9%

As you can see, in order to convert from yellow to white, the copper and silver would have to be decreased, the zinc increased, and nickel added. However, if this were possible, you would alter the gold percentage and would no longer have 14K. Also, since the jeweler has no idea of exactly what's in the yellow alloy to start with, it would first have to be analyzed for all ingredients, which would be quite expensive. Also, a portion of the gold would be used for the analysis and you would end up with less gold than you started with.

In other words, what you thought was simple is very complex and you probably wouldn't end up with what you want anyway.

As Mark said, the only way to do it is to have the ring refined, which would be expensive - mainly because you want the original gold back and he would have to refine it separately. In refining, all the alloying metals would be removed and you would end up with nearly pure 24K gold. This gold could be re-alloyed from scratch to make the white gold ring. Probably, though, you wouldn't end up with 100% of the gold since, when refining such a tiny amount, some of the gold will be trapped in filter papers, etc. Also, you would have to find a refiner you could trust to return the actual gold that was in the original ring. To do this would be a big pain for him. He could just estimate the amount and give you gold from who knows where. You wouldn't know the difference because gold is gold. Even if you paid him a lot to do this, you would never really know if the gold you got back was actually your gold or not.

All in all, I hope you're convinced to forget the whole deal. It wasn't a very good idea to start with.

Chris Owen
- Nevada, Missouri, USA

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