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April 2017

White gold and rhodium

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Rhodium, white gold

Did you know…Rhodium and white gold.

First and foremost, please understand that white gold does not exist in nature; white gold is a man-made product. Pure gold is 24kt and is a very bright yellow, not white. So what is white gold?
Imagine 24 identically sized bb’s of pure gold. If you melt all 24 of them together, you will have a blob of 24kt gold. If you remove one 24kt bb and replace it with another bb of any other metal (remember, there always has to be 24 bb’s when you melt them down) you will have 23kt gold.
Okay, follow the math here; if you take 10 of the 24kt bb’s away and replace them with 10 bb’s of nickel or zinc and melt all 24 of them together, you will have 14kt white gold. Therein lies the problem. You have 10 white bb’s and 14 bright yellow bb’s, thus, 14k white gold will always have that slight yellow sheen.
10kt white gold on the other hand contains 14 parts white to 10 parts yellow. 18kt white gold…well, it should be outlawed in my opinion because its 18 parts yellow and 6 parts white…aka…Slight Yellow Gold!
Rhodium on the other hand is a naturally occurring bright white member of the platinum family that lends itself very well as a plating material. Since its naturally bright white, when you use rhodium to plate a ‘whitish’ metal like 14kt white gold, it brightens it up and makes it appear whiter. Lotions, hand sanitizers and other materials cause the rhodium to dull over time, showing the slight yellow sheen. The process is not permanent and will need to be repeated sometime in the future.
Do you have jewelry question? Send me a message and I’ll give you an answer.



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