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Why is my white gold turning brown?

White gold isn’t really white, like platinum. It has more of a brownish cast, some variations of alloy more than others. It is commonly plated with Rhodium to make it bright. Some people refer to this process as “dipping” which is really a misnomer. The plating is done with an electric current and the rhodium is electrochemically bonded with the surface of the metal, as opposed to applying a coating as though it were painted or “dipped” in rhodium metal. Rhodium is a platinum family metal that is extremely white and very hard. Rhodium plating is similar to chrome plating that might be found on a classic car bumper.

Rhodium plating is a temporary solution to the color of white gold as it wears off of the piece of jewelry as the jewelry is worn. The harder the piece is worn, the faster the plating will wear. With earrings and pendants and other jewelry not subjected to the wear of a bracelet or ring it can last for many years. Rings and bracelets commonly need refinishing and re-plating every six months to a year or so, depending on how it is worn.

 

When jewelry is to be re-plated, the old plating must be completely removed and the piece must be refinished to “like new” condition. If it is not completely removed the surface will be rough and not shiny. For this reason it is not recommended to be done with high frequency. Frequent refinishing of jewelry can reduce the life of the piece significantly as polishing is essentially a wearing down process.

 

 

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