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Rhodium as White gold finish


I sell a lot of silver jewelry that’s plated with Rhodium; we tell
our customers that it is silver jewelry with a “white gold finish”,
not in order to mislead them, but they’re familiar with the term
"white gold" and automatically understand that this is silver that’s
plated to resemble solid white gold. Two questions:

a) do you think we are being misleading by not explaining to them
that the silver is plated with rhodium? I’m not trying to mislead
them, I’m just trying not to confuse them!

b) I was at a trade show recently and one of the wholesalers told me
that her silver jewelry was plated in white gold, and I replied that
I sold a lot of rhodium plated silver jewelry. She corrected me and
insisted that her silver jewelry was plated with white gold, and
after I asked her for clarification she acted ignorant about rhodium.
Is there truly a difference between white gold plating and rhodium
plating. I was under the impression that all (or nearly all) white
gold is plated in rhodium. Is this accurate or not?

Thanks in advance for any replys! Doug


Hello Doug and All:

You write “do you think we are being misleading by not explaining to
them that the silver is plated with rhodium?” It is not like your
selling CZ’s as diamonds or yellow gold as white but, to tell a
consumer that an item is plated with gold when it is in fact plated
with Rhodium just because the average person doesn’t know the
difference is in my opinion misleading and you should not do it.
Explain to them that Rhodium is a member of the platinum family and
is more durable than gold plating. Explain that the rhodium plating
is applied to keep the item from tarnishing as quickly. Most
consumers have seen tarnish on silver in some form or another and
will see the benefit of the plating. Do not imply that the rhodium
plating increases the precious metal content of the item.

I mean to say that you should not represent the item as silver and

Now this might get a little controversial, but I think that any
plating should be disclosed at the time of sale. The consumer has the
right (in my opinion) to know that if they buy that item and it later
needs repair or sizing that they may have to pay a fee for replating.
I charge $40 extra to replate.

Your impression that all or nearly all white gold jewelry is rhodium
plated is becoming more true as the industry is using more of what I
call “off-colored” white gold. There are many reasons for using low
nickel or no nickel white gold alloys especially in 18K. I do not see
much 14K white jewelry that is plated but almost all the designer
lines that our store carries that make 18K white items rhodium plate.
As I stated before I think that if it is plated you should tell the
consumer at the point of sale. I have been very long winded about
this topic in the past and if you want to search the archive you can
read more.

The average person knows little about jewelry. They know that 18K is
more gold than 14K and therefore think 18K is better. Off colored
18K white with a rhodium plating usually becomes an ugly yellowish or
grayish color after it is worn for awhile.

In closing I personally feel that surface treatments such as plating
that change the color of an item unless fully disclosed at the point
of sale is a unfair trade practice.

Michael R. Mathews Sr. Victoria,Texas JACMBJ


If it is rhodium, call it that or you’ll get into trouble somewhere
along the line. I’ve never heard of ‘white gold plate’. It is
always silver plate or rhodium plate. There is now a new one called
’white free’ that is supposed to be more environmentally friendly. I
got some, and it seems to give a nice rhodium like finish at a
fraction of the price. Not sure about durability, yet, haven’t had
it for long enough or used it enough times. Jim in soggy western NC.


You should absolutely not use the term “white gold finish” for
something that is rhodium plated. You are absolutely misleading the
customer and you are in violation of the law as well. You cannot
call something that has absolutely no white gold in it white gold
anything. You can say that it is rhodium plated and if the customer
appears confused you can tell them that rhodium is in the platinum
metals group. Most people are familiar with platinum.

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

Is there truly a difference between white gold plating and rhodium
plating. I was under the impression that all (or nearly all) white
gold is plated in rhodium. Is this accurate or not?

Doug, I have never heard of white gold plating! I tell my customers
that the white rhodium plating is of the platinum family and is
strong and extremly long lasting, and they have no problem with this.


Quite often, I use rhodium plating to help the occasional customer
who has extremely sensitive skin, and will have allergic reactions to
the nickel content of karat gold. Even on a yellow gold ring, I will
rhodium plate the inside and a little of the sides-anywhere that is
constant contact with their skin- and it almost always will remedy
their skin rash, as a result of nickel allergy. I even do it to
earring posts for people with this problem. I have found that people
are willing to pay handsomely to be able to wear their jewelry
again,after developing these problems later in life. And since the
rhodium wears off periodically, they return again, and again, paying
to keep their jewelry wearable. Ed


Mr. Dreyfus,

Yes, you are being misleading. To my knowledge, there is no such
thing as “white gold plating.” Tell them the truth. As my old
friend Confucius (can’t seem to remember his full name…) used to
say, “If you know, say you know. If you don’t know, say you don’t

Some of the less than scrupulous seasonal tourist trap stores up
here are telling customers they can “bleach” a yellow gold ring to
make it white. There is too much confusion, uncertainty, and lack of
trust in the jewelry world as it is. Please don’t add to it. -BK
in AK