Rhodium Plating – those of you who’ve bought shiny white rings that have started looking patchy 6 months down the line, will know exactly what this is. Plating is a way of adding a very thin layer of colour to the surface of metal. Think your granny’s silver plated jug, where the copper now shows through, or your white gold ring that’s beginning to look yellow.
The jewellery sector is very price conscious. They use things like small diamonds in illusion settings that make the stone look bigger, rings that have been hollowed out at the back to save weight and cut cost. And there’s nothing wrong with that – so long as you know what you’re buying. Afterall, we all like jewellery and sometimes we need to stick to a budget. These things can help us get the look we want, when our budget doesn’t fit our aspirations….we’ve all been there 🙂
Rhodium plating is what the jewellery industry uses to make a not very white, lower cost “white gold” alloy look white. The problem is that it wears off pretty easily, meaning that you need to have your rings replated every 6-12 months (depending on how much you wear them and how rough you are with them).
9ct white gold is a good white colour without plating. That’s because 9ct white gold is alloyed with silver and so is pretty white to start with. Alloying metals for colour (we also alloy them for their other properties, such as strength and hardness) is a bit like mixing paint colours!
18ct white gold alloys tend to look pale yellow, unless they are alloyed with a metal called palladium. Palladium comes from the same group of metals as platinum and rhodium (the stuff that’s used in plating). Palladium alloys are a beautiful white colour and so don’t need plating – happy days!
At present though, palladium prices are very high and this does make for an expensive 18ct white gold. On the upside, platinum prices are very reasonable just now, so if you want a white metal, why not go for platinum instead?
In my opinion, if you want 18ct white gold, then a high palladium white gold alloy is the best way to go. It’s the only one I use, because it gives the highest quality finish for my customers.