Rhodium Plating


White gold is increasing in popularity, but what people don't realize is that there is no such thing as "white gold." All metals exist in nature as various shades of grey with the exception of gold and copper. An alloy of metal is a combination of various metallic elements that are used in varying proportions to produce the desired color and properties.

Steel alloys for example, are composed primarily of iron, nickel and other metallic elements. White gold is also an alloy containing gold of course (which is yellow), along with nickel, palladium and other whiter metals to make the alloy appear white. However since there is gold in the alloy it will always appear "yellowish."

More importantly; the more gold in the alloy, the more yellowish it will appear in color. The karat grade will always indicate the amount of gold in the alloy. For example, 18K = 75% pure gold. So for 18K, this only leaves 25% of the alloy for other metals to make it whiter. This is why 18K white gold is more yellowish than 14K white gold.

White gold is almost always rhodium plated. It is a common practice in the jewelry trade to always rhodium plate white gold jewelry. Similarly, platinum can be rhodium plated but sometimes it is left in its natural state. Rhodium is very white, reflective, extremely hard and virtually tarnish proof. Platinum on the other hand normally appears to be a more grayish white and not as bright which is why it is sometimes plated as well unless it has a good amount of palladium in the alloy. When the plating on platinum begins to wear thin you don't notice it as much, but you do on white gold because the alloy is yellowish. This is why we never recommend you purchase wedding bands made in white gold. We realize it is much more expensive in platinum, but it is worth it in the long run. The plating will probably wear off in 1-5 years of you wearing it, depending on how rough you are on the rings, and how much rhodium plating is on the ring. All white gold jewelry will require maintenance at one time or another to keep it looking brand new. To have a white gold ring rhodium plated. If it is a two-tone ring, it has to be applied by hand with a brush rather than immersing the whole ring in the electroplating tank. So two tone rings will cost more to maintain their white gold appearance.

Almost all white gold fashion jewelry from Italy is rhodium plated. For example, all our
white gold ladies bracelets are rhodium plated. This is why they look so shiny and white. In 18K gold, looking at them in yellow light, you will not see much of a difference in the color. If you go outside on a bright sunny day, the color difference should be noticeable. If, you want platinum, but why is it so expensive??? The density of platinum is roughly double that of gold (so it's double the weight for platinum for the same item cast in gold). And platinum costs about 2.5 times as much as gold per gram. And since all metal jewelry is priced per gram, the same item cast in platinum will cost roughly 5 times what it would in white gold. This is why you don't see very many platinum bracelets or necklaces! Palladium is also an expensive metal, but is much whiter a metal than other grey metals. So a 14K white gold alloy with nickel will not be as white as a 14K white gold alloy with palladium. So there are cheaper and more expensive alloys of white gold. Rhodium is also a very expensive metal as well, but when plating, very little is actually used, so it doesn't cost too much to plate the jewelry.

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