How to Avoid White Gold Turning Yellow
White gold is a durable and high quality alternative to sterling silver. Because it doesn’t tarnish, it can be more convenient than silver. However, white gold can also change colors over time. The most common complaint about white gold is that it has turned yellow. Not only can you fix white gold that has turned yellow, you can also prevent it from changing colors in the first place (though not forever).
It’s important to remember that even the highest quality jewelry can undergo changes over time. Gold and silver are metals, and they can experience gradual chemical reactions (and even wear). You should also be aware that “white gold” is actually gold mixed with other metals, such as nickel, platinum, or palladium. Most gold is combined with other metals to make it stronger and better suited for jewelry, and white gold is simply one option. You should look for jewelry made from solid gold that is between 10 and 18 karats, or about 40 to 75 percent gold. Pure gold is not a great choice, especially for pieces you wear every day (such as wedding bands), and it is also impossible to have pure white gold!
White gold changes colors due to a lot of factors. The most common factor is the natural acids and chemicals released by your skin. As a result, gold that touches your skin will change colors more quickly than the other parts. For example, the inside part of a ring’s band will usually turn yellow before the rest of the gold. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear your gold, however! Other factors are salt water, chlorine, soaps, detergents, lotions, and just about anything else it comes in contact with. Yellowing over time is natural, but your jewelry doesn’t have to stay yellow.
The most common treatment for restoring yellowing white gold is rhodium plating. Rhodium is a high quality metal that is the same color as white gold. The jeweler simply places a thin coat over the gold to restore the shiny white color and protect it from a few more years of wear. Chances are that your white gold jewelry came rhodium plated straight from the store, as it tends to make the white gold look even prettier. In fact, many times the “yellowing” of the jewelry is simply the rhodium plating wearing down. Simply ask a jeweler to re-plate it for you, and your jewelry will be as good as new!
Although the break-down process is normal (and inevitable), you can prolong the time between re-platings by taking care of your jewelry. Try to avoid getting your white gold jewelry wet, soapy, or dirty when practical. Taking it off before showering, swimming, or splashing around in the ocean will reduce the wear on the rhodium. At the end of the day, however, it’s not a big deal to get your white gold re-plated.