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Why Does White Gold Jewellery Turn Yellow?

Have you ever looked down to your bracelet or favourite ring to find it turning yellow? This can be confusing or even a bit annoying especially if you have spent a lot of money on a good quality product. If that particular piece of jewellery is white gold then there is an explanation as to why this is happening. In this article, we explain the elements of white gold, what causes the discolouration and a solution to fix it. 

What is white gold? 

White gold is a popular style of jewellery chosen mainly for its durability and high quality and also because it looks great. White gold is stronger due to it being an alloy, this means that the gold, which on its own is often too soft a metal to be durable, is mixed with another metal such as platinum, nickel or palladium. Mixing with these metals also starts to help it give the white gold look. A good indicator of a high quality, white gold product is to have something between 10 and 18 karats. To make the jewellery fully white gold, it is plated with a metal called Rhodium. Have a look at the images below to see the difference between the before and after of a rhodium-plated ring: 


Image 1: Yellow GoldImage 2: White GoldImage 3: Faded White Gold 


Why is my jewellery turning yellow?  

Over time, even the strongest metals can begin to fade or discolour. There are a few reasons why this can happen and also ways to slow down and prevent this. The rhodium plating will begin to wear away for various reasons: 

  • There are natural chemicals and acids in your skin which means that any part of the jewellery that is frequently in contact with your skin will begin to yellow quicker. This is unavoidable because the oils in your skin will always be there. The best advice here is to make sure your skin is cleansed properly. 
  • External materials that are used in everyday life can also effect the rate of yellowing for example; detergents, soaps, salt water and chlorine. These will definitely cause the rhodium plating to wear down.  
  • Physical wear can also be linked to this issue – friction and rubbing will contribute to the wear of the rhodium. This is why the inside of rings often yellow quickly if you remove them often. 

How can I prevent or fix the discolouration? 

If you notice discolouration, don’t panic! There is an easy fix you can do to get your jewellery looking as good as new. As the discolouring is caused by the wearing away of the rhodium plating you can get the rhodium replaced, and pretty simply too! You can take any white gold item to any Argos store & they will send it away to one of the best jewellery repair companies in Europe where specialists will replace the rhodium coating.  There is a small cost for this service depending on the size and type of jewellery but is extremely good value. 

Other ways to prevent and slow down the fading is to be cautious about getting your white gold wet or soapy or in contact with other external materials.