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Gold Dipping

Hello, my name is Margaret and I need some advice. My daughters 14kt
white gold engagement ring which was specially ordered in white gold
is turning yellow. The jeweler is now telling us that it is white
gold but needs to be dipped every 3 months to keep the yellow from
coming through. I never heard of such a thing. We have spoken to a
jeweler on-line and he thinks we have been taken for a ride. We did
not order a gold ring dipped but jeweler insists that is how it’s
done, also the ring starts to turn yellow every 4 to 5 weeks not 3
months and is now starting to peel. Help, any advice? any recourse?
Thank-you Margaret.


Seems to me that the ring was made in yellow gold and then rhodium
plated. As the plating wears off, the gold shows through. May be a
good idea to take it to another jeweller in your area and get a second

Saeed Motiwala, G.G.
Karachi, Pakistan.


The ring could be either yellow gold or white gold that’s been
rhodium plated. It could be a white gold alloy which is not very white
(it is normal) and gives a yellowish color in contrast to the peeled
off rhodium plate. In either case, the plating has been done poorly. A
good plating should last longer than a year or two. Try to be sure if
it’s in fact yellow gold or a white gold alloy before going back to
your jeweler.

Fady Sawaya
3D jewelry designer

Hi Margaret, Your daughters 14k white gold ring should not be turning
yellow at all. 14k white gold alloys are white enough by themselves
to not require any plating at all. If it were 18k white gold, that
may be a different story… there are some 18k alloys that do not
turn yellowish… but most will turn slightly yellow and some
Jewelers/ manufactures will “Rhodium Plate” the gold . Rhodium will
last a very long time ( many Years In most cases) between replating.
If the Jeweler is using Paladium Instead of Rhodium this would wear
off very Quickly. There is also a Synthetic Rhodium which looks
great, but will wear off very quickly due to the fact that the
synthetic material is actually a bright tin plating process. I hope
this is helpful. Daniel Grandi We do
molding, model making casting and finishing for designers /jewelers

Dear margaret I am a bench jeweler in a retail store in Atlanta, Ga.
White gold cosists of 58% gold-which is naturally yellow. It is made
white by adding copper,nickle and zinc. It is normal that the yellow
comes through after wearing it. the “dipping” you mentioned is called
rhodium plating. With out getting too technical rhodium is in the
family of platinum which is the whitest precious metal, so it is used
to electroplate white gold to make it whiter. You mentioned every 4 to
5 weeks it needs to be plated as well, with my experince this is also
normal, many factors could be involved such as certain medication
taken or types of food eaten making a chemical reaction in the shin
towards the gold. I have been a jeweler for 8 years now and have come
across this alot. When it is a big concern I will suggest platinum. If
you have any questions you can email me directly

White gold often looks yellowish particularly if it is contrasted
with the rhodium plating that appears to have been used. It is common
practice to plate white gold in rhodium ( a platinum related metal) as
many of the white gold blends on the market are quite yellowish. It
is not common for the plating to come off that quickly so they must be
using a very thin coating. On the other hand it could be a yellow gold
ring that was plated with rhodium so that the jeweler could pass it
off as white gold. Without seeing it this is difficult to tell and a
jeweler on line could never tell you anything for sure as he can’t
actually see the ring.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

Hello Margaret, modern precious metal alloying technology produces a
range of white gold alloys, some of these such as palladium-gold have
a yellowish cast. It is not as yellow as proper yellow gold alloys,
but then again, not as white as the layperson might expect of metal
described as white gold. These alloys are often rhodium plated to
enhance the whiteness of the metal. When the rhodium plating wears off
it reveals the yellowish colour of the metal underneath. You have not
necessarily “been taken for a ride”. Your gold is more than likely
genuine 14ct white gold alloy. Of course, this whole response is
academic without actually eyeballing the gold in question. A competent
jeweller would know immediately upon physically seeing and testing the
metal. Kind regards, Rex from Oz

Without seeing the ring I can’t be sure, but I wouldn’t necessarily
accuse the jeweler of fraud quite yet. This sounds like it may be a
case of white gold with a yellowish color, a gold/silver/nickel alloy,
that has a rhodium plate over it to come closer to platinum or
palladium color. “white gold” varies quite a lot in color depending on
the alloy, and it has been a common treatment, especially around pav�
and bright cut settings, to rhodium plate them. A jeweler who
frequently does this may consider it normal to rhodium plate the
entire ring. I personally agree that it looks odd, and prefer metal to
be its own color without a thin layer of rhodium, but it may still
actually be 14k gold throughout.

However, if the jeweler used 14k YELLOW gold (bright yellow color,
not pale) and rhodium plated THAT, then he’s a bozo and ought to redo
it for her, for free.

Alan Heugh

Hi, How did you get my email address? I am happy to help you but I
don’t want you to use “me” to get your point across. However, you may
use what I tell you (knowledge) to outsmart this dishonest jeweler.

Yes you have been taken for a ride. If you ordered a white gold
ring, it should be solid white gold. Sometimes jewelers will take the
easy way when they don’t have what you want and dip a yellow gold ring
into rhodium (most of the time solid white gold pieces are also
dipped in rhodium to give it that shiny white luster.) I had this
happen to myself as well. So, don’t feel like you are the only one.
It’s not right. But, it happens.

Go back and let them know that you know what they did!

Hi Margaret;

It is common to plate white gold articles with rhodium, a hard, white
metal in the platinum group. 14K white gold is not a very bright
white color, especially if it is gold whitened with palladium
(another platinum group metal), as opposed to nickel. Palladium is
preferred in some cases to avoid the skin reaction some wearers
experience with the nickel white gold alloy. But the color, under
the rhodium plating, should never be a very easily discernable
yellow. Perhaps a slightly more yellowish white than the original
rhodium plating. And, it would be unlikely that the plating would
become so thick that it would actually flake off, unless they were
attempting to plate over a nickel coating which wasn’t clean enough.
Nickel might be used to further mask an underlying yellow color. My
suspicions are certainly aroused. Plating white over a yellow
article is NOT the way white gold articles are made. They are made
of a white alloy and the rhodium is simply to make it a harder,
brighter white and less prone to shop wear.

David L. Huffman

Sorry, I ageed with Amanda Houck, because the white gold must be made
with paladium, and with the 5% o more of it, the gold alloy get a
deep grey color. In Chile be don�t use other metals to the white gold
alloy except silver because the other metals like nickel or zinc are
allergenic. Regards from Santiago de Chile in a freezy day Adriana
Beniscelli goldsmith&silversmith

Several times a year we get asked to supply jewellery (usually rings)
in 18ct white gold. We usually try and suggest platinum instead if
the customer really wants a bright white appearance, as 18ct generally
looks yellowish, or even grey!

Sometimes, however, customers insist: 18ct white is what they want.
On more than one occasion (including one just a few weeks ago) the
customer is disappointed when they get their piece, and see that the
white gold isn’t really very white… We then usually offer a choice:
order the piece in platinum, or 9ct white (which tends to be
’whiter’), or else have the existing piece rhodium plated.

Many (if not most) UK manufacturers seem to rhodium plate as a matter
of course, before the jewellery is delivered; we’ve always avoided
that approach. Seems to me that if someone is spending that much they
should get the quality ‘all the way through’, not just a thin surface
covering…which will eventually wear off (over years if not months.)

However, it seems that more and more customers want 'whiter than
white, whether it’s plated or not. Maybe we’re swimming against the
tide trying to hold out against it.

I’d be interested to hear other Orchiders experiences/opinions.


Duncan McLean

Personally, when I make 14K white gold articles, I do not rhodium
plate them, except in areas where I pav� or bright cut (I like to use
palladium alloys for this work, and they’re kind of yellowish). I
find the rhodium plating garrish. Too hard and white, it appears
cheap to me, like chrome, and you’ve got to be pretty fussy to get a
good plating job, too. It’s not really the same white as platinum,
which takes on its patina of fine abrasion, giving it a snowy cast.
Moonbeam white, I call it. As for 18K white, I don’t use it unless a
customer insists, then I show them a piece of 18K white stock or
casting grain against a piece of 14K white. They usually go for the
14K. My problem with rhodium is that when you have to size a ring,
you really need to remove the old plating, or else it shows where you
sized it, even if you re-plate it. And you can’t just casually put a
fresh polish on a cusomer’s piece if it’s plated. Same problem, you
can see where the plating wears off, and you have to remove it all,
or at least to a point where a division between plated and unplated
won’t show, and re-plate it. It does get scratched up too. I just
don’t think it’s necessary if you’ve got a good finish on your metal,
and especially if you use a brushed finish, as in contrasting white
and yellow golds.

David L. Huffman


I don’t know about consumers, but I do know that there is still a lot
of resistance from retailers in buying platinum, mostly due to the
cost. The majority of jewelers I know would rather sell the price
points that gold offers rather than work at selling platinum, in
spite of the advantages that platinum offers. Heck, most retailers
won’t even use palladium white gold instead of nickel white!
Customers are then left to sort out the alloy/color/allergenic
questions themselves. There is one bright spot, though.

I use an alloy from Stern-Leach (ph# 508.222.7400) that has quite a
number of advantages for manufacturing. First it is exceptionally
white. This may not be much of a manufacturing plus except that it
doesn’t need plating. It casts very much like 14 karat yellow in that
it is very fluid when molten. It melts at 1850 degrees (1010 C). Its
fluidity and smoothness makes it feel a lot more like yellow than any
white gold I have every used. In addition it is the whitest, white
gold I have ever worked with. It’s product name is 18 karat #360
white casting grain. The item number is G0857.

I don’t recommend trying to construct with it or do any kind of
fabricating because it work hardens very quickly and develops
brittleness, especially at solder joints. I have had little success
making tubing out of it even if I am insanely vigorous about
annealing. I make a lot of tubing and odd shaped, heavy wires for
shanks. I’m always looking for metal that will draw well.

The main thing you have to get used to is it’s need to have the
lowest flask temperature possible. Never use a flask temperature
over 1150 F or you’ll get bad pitting and brittleness. If the
temperature is too low you will get incomplete castings. Still, I
hope some of you will try it. I’ve never seen a piece made with this
alloy that needed rhodium plating, even sandblasted pieces.

Larry Seiger

In the US you cannot sell 9 kt gold as gold. We always have a stock
of white gold (both rhodium plated and not) and platinum and explain
in detail what the differences are so that the customer can make an
educated choice. If you honestly show them their options they can then
make an educated decision based on their lifestyle, preferences and

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

Hi Duncan; Thanks for the info on that white gold alloy. I might find
that usefull in the future. My question is this:

Have you ever tried bright cutting it, or pave setting or engraving
with it? I’m inclined, since I’m having to do a lot of pave lately,
to switch over to palladium, even if it isn’t as white as the regular
nickel alloy I use. Problem with palladium alloyed white gold is

If you really want to cast it properly, you can’t use regular
investment. The sulfer in it contaminates the alloy. You need to
use something like “opticast” or one of those investments designed
for platinum. These require long mixing time, and they need hours to
dry. I’ve got the palladium alloy and the opticast, and I’m about
ready to start using it, but if anyone out there has any advice on
the subject of casting palladium, let me know please. And Duncan, if
you get a chance, try poking around with a graver and let us know how
your new alloy from Stern-Leach behaves.

David L. Huffman

Dear David and all,

The one other limitation on pladium white gold, and the one that
keeps me from using the material, is that you cannot cast the material
in a carbon crucible. I am not aware of any other type of crucible
made for my old Jelrus casting machines, so I doubt if I will ever be
able to try the mixture.

Good luck, JMF

 try poking around with a graver and let us know how your new alloy
from Stern-Leach behaves. 

I can tell you both from experience and from actual viewing finished
pieces that other designers have produced that it is good for pave.
As far as comparing it with palladium, I have a bias toward the ease
of palladium despite it’s color. However, compared to other white
gold alloys the stern-leach alloy is better both in ease and color

Larry Seiger

Glad to have gotten that piece of I would have gone
ahead and put the metal in the old electromelt with its graphite
crucible, which is pure carbon. Guess I’ll have to drag the torch
and tanks downstairs and pull out the old ceramic dish crucible with
the handle. Thanks.

David L. Huffman


You will love palladium white gold in 14k or 18k for setting it is
great. it is also a wonderful fabrication alloy. The major problem
with it is getting a solder color match. The best thing to do is
make your joints really tight so the solder line is minimal…

James Binnion Metal Arts
4701 San Leandro St #18
Oakland, CA 94601