White Gold, Platinum and Rhodium Plating

WHITE GOLD started showing up in jewelry in the late 1930s as a less expensive alternative to platinum. During the 1940s it gained popularity because platinum was removed from the consumer market for the war effort. Today, it is very fashionable and popular, but before you purchase white gold jewelry there are a few things to consider.

Fourteen karat white gold consists of 58.5% pure (yellow) gold mixed with nickel, silver, and zinc. Because of the pure gold content, polished white gold maintains a slight yellow tint. For this reason, jewelry manufactures electro-plate white gold with a metal called rhodium. Rhodium is a naturally white precious metal and a cousin to platinum. It is expensive (over $2000/ troy ounce), very durable and very “white”. Even though the rhodium electro-plate is very strong it will wear off over time exposing the polished white gold and its yellow tint. For this reason the rhodium must be periodically plated back on. We do rhodium electroplating at our facility, but we must charge for it due to the high expense of the metal. To avoid white gold maintenance issues, consider purchasing jewelry made with platinum.

Side note: Sleeping in white gold jewelry will quickly ware off the rhodium and increase the need for re-plating.