If you do not have the time to read our article you may proceed to our sister website offering a rhodium plating service. Rhodium Plating White Gold Jewellery from £24.50.
White Gold Grading
White gold is graded in colour from 1 to 4 depending on the quality of the colour and how often rhodium plating would need to be applied. 1 is the best possible colour, grade 4 is considered unacceptable as the colour is more of a yellow and relies heavily on costly rhodium plating in order to maintain the colour. Typically grade 3 and 4 qualities of white gold are generally used in many mass produced articles, as raw material costs are much lower, and the items are generally made to a price point rather than to a quality. Grade 3 and 4 colours do generate a lot of complaints from customers in the jewellery industry due to the problems associated with evident colour change once the rhodium wears off.
The image of the rings above are in fact the same ring, in its natural grade 4 colour, and after rhodium plating. You will see in its worn condition that it is such an unacceptable colour, it could actually be classed as yellow gold. Although this ring has been rhodium plated, and looks like new the rhodium is unlikely to last long due to the quality of the gold used to make the ring.
All of the 9ct white gold and 18ct white gold wedding rings that we sell on this website are made using only Grade 1 white gold as we believe in only selling quality wedding rings that will give you years of hassle free wear. All of the jewellery on our websites also conform to the European Nickel Directive.
What is White Gold?
Gold is naturally a yellow colour and is formulated into different colours, including white gold by the addition of adding other metals in order to reach the desired colour. Gold is expressed in carats with pure gold being 24 carats. 18 carat would be 18 parts pure cold and 6 parts another alloy. The manufacturer will then use these 6 parts in order to try to change the colour of the gold. They will typically use other white metals in order to try to change the colour of the gold from yellow to white, however 6 parts white to 18 parts yellow will not result in a pure white metal. In order to enhance the white gold a plating of Rhodium is applied. Rhodium is a brilliant white metal that is part of the platinum family and when applied to white gold it is this brilliant white colour that you see. Unfortunately when this plating wears off you will see the true colour of your ring below.
Different white metals can be added to the gold and can have different effects on the colour. Cheaper rings tend to use cheaper alloys of white metal that are not as successful at changing the colour and tend to produce a creamy white colour which is the colour that you will see when your rhodium plating wears off. Depending on the alloy used, a better colour of white can be achieved. The better and more costly the alloy the finer the colour will be and the longer the colour will last.
The Best White Gold
The best alloy to use in white gold is palladium which produces the best colour of white gold, and results in a white gold jewellery that will stay white for much longer. Palladium is not widely used in white gold as it is the most expensive alloy due to it being a member of the platinum family of metals. Palladium rich white gold is by far the best white gold at the moment and even though it costs a little more it is worth spending the extra. I would always advise that you purchase palladium rich white gold (Grade 1) in any jewellery that will receive hard wear such as rings.
Rhodium plating is a finish that is applied to all white gold. It will look exactly the same on the cheapest and most expensive of rings, as you are seeing the reflective brilliance brilliant white colour of the rhodium plating and not the true colour of the metal below. In time the rhodium plating will wear off and the true colour of the metal will now be visible. With cheap white gold this will be seen as a yellowish creamy white colour which will be very noticeable. With palladium rich white gold you may not even be aware that the rhodium is starting to wear as the colour difference underneath will not be as evident.
Rhodium plating will need to be reapplied on to white gold if you wish to maintain the colour, how frequent depends on the quality of the white gold and how quickly you experience a loss of colour. Grade 1 white gold will need less rhodium plating and sometimes does not need to be reapplied at all. Grade 3 or 4 white gold will need frequent rhodium plating as the true colour will show through quite quickly in normal wear.
A typical price for rhodium plating would be around Â£20.00 to Â£30.00 which involves polishing off any remaining rhodium and polishing out all of the scratches and then reapplying a new coat of rhodium plating. One downside of rhodium plating too often is that it does prematurely wear your ring away. Every time your ring is polished a tiny layer of gold is removed in order to remove all the scratches. Although the amount of metal removed is negligible if you are doing this every 3 -6 months then this can add up over time and cause unnecessary wear to your ring.
Palladium rich white gold is by far the best colour of white gold available at this time. It does however carry a premium and will be more expensive than cheaper alloyed white gold and is also more expensive than yellow gold which doesn't have such an expensive alloy added. The price difference between yellow gold and palladium rich white gold is evident on our website.
The increased cost of palladium rich white gold is offset by less frequent rhodium plating and thus less un-necessary polishing, but more importantly customer satisfaction is greatly increased as you will not suffer the same level of discolouration experienced with cheaper alloys.
I would always advise with items of white gold jewellery that are in constant use that you ask the sales person to confirm that the article is either "palladium rich" or is made from "Grade 1 Alloys" If they are unable to confirm this then I would assume that they are below grade 1.
More information can be found regarding white gold grading at Gold Bulletin (www.goldbulletin.org)
As well as the Quality Silver website we also operate a jewellery shop in Maidstone, Kent where we can repair and rhodium plate your jewellery. To visit our retail shop website Click Here