what is your experience with customer's expectations of the color
of 18 karat yellow?
I don't think most customers notice the subtle color variations in
the range of 18k alloys used.
18k yellow alloys range in color from greenish-yellow (bright) to
reddish yellow (rich). The greenish-yellow variety seems to be more
popular among manufacturers, though I personally prefer the richer
alloys because they are closer to 24k. One thing I've noticed is that
the richer alloys (slightly more copper in the alloy) tend to develop
an even richer patina with wear. However they are slightly more
difficult to cast with torch melting because the added copper tends
to hang on to the oxygen it absorbs, or something like that.
do most large manufacturers plate/strip/gild to give a 24 karat
Not on 18k
if so, do you think this has created expectations that 18k should
be yellower than it actually is?
do the italian manufacturers of 18k earrings, pendants and chains
raise the color?
I don't know, haven't heard it before though...
do most goldsmiths in canada/america leave 18k in its natural
color, including polishing off the depletion gilding that often
results from repeated pickling?
Yes, 18k is alluring just as is.
or do you plate/strip/gild to bring the surface up to 24k color?
No, I use 22k when I want 24k color.