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Does White Gold Tarnish? Debunking the Myth!

by Ahmed Suhail 15 Jun 2023 0 Comments

White gold is becoming increasingly popular in jewellery because it looks beautiful and never goes out of style. People often think it is pure white, but white gold is a mixture of pure gold with other metals. However, a recurring myth about this valuable metal has confused and worried jewellery lovers: Does white gold tarnish?

White gold, often used for engagement rings, earrings, and bands, is a mixture made by mixing pure gold with other metals like silver, palladium, or nickel. This mixing makes the metal stronger and gives it that bright white colour that makes it stand out. 

Nevertheless, people often think white gold loses its shine and turns yellow with time. So, if you've ever thought about what white gold is like and if it tarnishes, come with us on this journey as we find the answers. 

White Gold: Unveiling the Mysteries Behind its Beauty

White gold's exceptional beauty and adaptability have made it a favourite metal option for jewellery designers. But what exactly is white gold?  

Pure gold is usually yellow, but white gold is made by mixing pure gold with other metals to make a mixture. Most of the time, this is done with silver, gold, or nickel. This mixture gives white gold its typical white colour.

How Does Alloying of Metals Impact the Quality of White Gold?

White gold is made by carefully mixing pure gold with the chosen alloying metals. There are two reasons for adding these other metals. 

  • First, they change the colour of the gold, making it white instead of its original yellow. 
  • Second, they make the gold more durable and robust, making it suitable for jewellery.

White gold's general qualities can be affected by the metals used to make it. For example, adding silver to gold tends to make white gold softer and easier to shape, while adding nickel can make a more potent combination that lasts longer. On the other hand, palladium is a good compromise because it is both strong and flexible.

Rhodium Plating and Its Impact on White Gold

White gold jewellery is often treated with a tiny layer of rhodium to make it look even better. Rhodium is a valuable metal related to platinum and is known for its high shine and strength in fading. The rhodium finish makes the surface of the white gold even brighter and more shiny, giving it a sparkling look.

But it's important to know that white gold jewellery doesn't always have a rhodium finish. Over time, the finishing can wear away, showing the white gold's original colour. 

This can give the metal a slight yellowish tint, which people often think is rust. But it's important to know that this is just because the rhodium metal is wearing off and not a sign that the silver is rusting.

How White Gold is Different from Other Precious Metals? 

White gold's resistance to tarnishing is exceptional, even when compared to other precious metals like silver and platinum, which are also often utilized. 

Silver is known to rust easily because it reacts with sulfur chemicals in the air, which makes it look dirty. Silver jewellery needs regular cleaning and cares to keep it looking its best.

Platinum, on the other hand, has exceptional resistance to oxidation and corrosion. Its naturally white colour doesn't fade or change over time, which makes it a popular choice for people who want a metal that doesn't need much upkeep. However, platinum costs almost twice as much as white gold.

Does White Gold Tarnish? The Myth of White Gold Tarnishing!

The myth about white gold fading comes from the idea that white gold changes colour over time, like silver. Many people think that white gold jewellery won't look good or last long because of this. 

But it's important to know that white gold and silver are different metals with different qualities.

Busting the myth: The real reason for the discolouration

Contrary to most people, white gold doesn't turn yellow like silver. Silver tarnishes when it reacts chemically with sulphur molecules in the environment. 

It causes the silver to get darker or even black. When it comes to white gold, the rhodium covering wearing off is usually the leading cause of colour change, not natural rust.

As we already said, white gold jewellery is often treated with a small layer of rhodium to make it look better and give it a bright, white surface. 

This covering can slowly wear off over time from everyday use, revealing the white gold metal underneath, which may have a slight yellow tint. This colour change is not caused by rust but by the lack of a rhodium layer.

Tarnish vs Normal Wear: Preserving the Beauty of White Gold Jewelry

When it comes to white gold jewellery, knowing the difference between tarnish and everyday wear is essential. Tarnish is a chemical process that changes the surface of a metal, turning it a different colour and making it look not very interesting. 

On the other hand, normal wear happens over time due to daily activities like rubbing against other surfaces or being exposed to oils and lotions. It causes minor scratches, and the silver finish wears away slowly.

It's important to know that white gold jewellery may turn slightly yellow over time. This is a normal part of the ageing process. It's not a flaw or a sign that the metal is rusting; it's just a natural part of the metal. Proper care and upkeep can quickly return the white look.

4 Factors That Cause Tarnishing in White Gold Jewellery

1. Explosives and Other Nasty Things

Exposure to chemicals and other potent substances is one of the primary factors that can cause white gold jewellery to look tarnished. Chemicals like chlorine, chlorine dioxide bleach, and some cleaning products can change the colour of white gold by reacting with the metals in it. 

It's best to take off white gold jewellery before doing things that expose you to chemicals, like swimming in chlorine pools or using home cleaning products.

2. Low pH Substances 

White gold can also turn yellow because of the pH level. Acidic settings are more likely to tarnish because acids can eat away at white gold metals, changing their appearance. For example, people whose skin is typically acidic or often come into touch with acidic substances may see tarnishing happen more quickly. 

It's important to remember that not all white gold jewellery tarnishes at the same rate. This depends on how the metal is made and how the person wears their jewellery.

3. Personal Care Items

White gold can also look different because of lotions, scents, and hairsprays that people use to take care of themselves. Many of these items have chemicals that can mix with the metals in white gold and make them look dull or dirty. 

It's best to use personal care products before putting them on and let them thoroughly soak before putting them on to keep white gold jewellery from rusting.

4. Atmospheric Conditions

The environment can have a significant effect on how quickly white gold rusts. Air pollution, humidity, and wetness can speed up tarnishing, making the white gold surface less shiny. 

White gold jewellery can be kept from rusting by putting it in a cool, dry place and in cases that don't let air in.

A Few Tips and Techniques to Preserve White Gold Shine

  • Gentle Cleaning for White Gold Jewelry

White gold jewellery must be cleaned regularly to keep its shine and beauty. But cleaning the metal is essential so you don't damage it. Mixing warm water and light dish soap is an excellent way to clean. 

  1. Soak the necklace in the solution for a few minutes, and then use a soft brush or cloth to wipe away any dirt or other leftovers. 
  2. Clean the jewellery by rinsing it in warm, soapy water and drying it with a soft towel.
  3. Avoid cleaning with harsh chemicals or brushes that might damage the metal.
  • Storing White Gold Jewelry Safely

White gold jewellery must be kept correctly to keep its look. Keep your jewellery somewhere clean, dry, and out of the sun when you're not wearing your jewellery. 

White gold can rust faster when exposed to air and moisture, so storing it in an airtight case or a jewellery box with anti-tarnish strips is best. Also, keep your jewellery safe from scratches by storing it in soft cases or wrapping it in a towel.

  • Professional Maintenance and Re-Plating

White gold jewellery will lose its rhodium finish over time, changing how it looks. Getting it back to its original bright whiteness takes the work of an expert. A jewellery maker can re-plate the white gold and bring back its original shine by adding a new rhodium coat. 

This process may need to be done every few years based on how much use the item gets.

Conclusion:

Does white gold tarnish? White gold does not tarnish in the same way as silver. The slight yellowish tint may develop over time due to the wearing off of the rhodium plating, not tarnish. With regular cleaning, safe storage, and occasional re-plating, the beauty of white gold can be preserved.

Celebrate white gold's elegance and allure, knowing its beauty stands the test of time.

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