The one thing that no one tells you about your white gold wedding or engagement ring is that you must take it to the jewelry store to get it replated in rhodium (or, in other cases, palladium) every 1-4 years from the date of purchase.
Well, the truth is that there is nothing like actual white gold, and the lustrous white gold that you now love and adore is a result of a 2-step process that starts with the alloying of pure gold to create 10k, 14k, or 18k ‘white’ gold, followed by the plating of the resultant white gold. Essentially, pure gold is mixed with white metals like zinc, silver, palladium, and/or nickel in different proportions. The resultant alloy isn’t really white but off-white. So, to create a nice lustrous finish, the ‘white gold’ is rhodium-plated. And like any other plated piece of jewelry, the only way of maintaining the white, lustrous finish is by re-dipping it in the metal that gives it the characteristic white gold look after every few years.
Keep in mind that the need for alloying pure gold stems from the fact that pure gold is very soft, and it wouldn’t be used to create durable jewelry in its purest form. Alloying means only a proportion of pure gold is used and mixed with other metals (stronger metals), which alter the metallurgical properties of the gold jewelry – essentially the reason why the metal alloys are more durable than pure gold.
In addition to giving white gold its characteristic white finish, rhodium is also used because it’s a very durable metal, and a thicker layer of rhodium plated to the off-white gold leaves you with a more durable piece of jewelry.
Do white gold rings need Replating?
White gold rings will need to be replated after about one year, depending on how often you wear the ring and if you keep the ring on when cleaning, showering, cooking, working out, etc.
Most daily tasks will wear out the layer of rhodium slowly, and when the layer of rhodium wears out, the actual color of the white gold would be revealed.
Since the color of actual white gold is far from appealing, the ring has to be replated once it starts to wear off.
Replating is also necessary for the strengthening of the white gold while also protecting your skin from irritation – one of the metals alloyed to white gold could be a nickel. Rhodium plating prevents contact of your skin with nickel.
How often should a white gold ring be replated?
Generally, the rhodium plating often lasts for a minimum of 6 months, but it might last for more than a few years, depending on how often you wear the ring and your lifestyle.
Unlike other types of white gold jewelry, white gold rings tend to wear out faster than other items like earrings and necklaces.
Naturally, the ring on your hand is exposed, and it comes in contact with several surfaces on a daily basis, which means that the rhodium plating will wear out over a shorter period.
How much does it cost to get a white gold ring dipped?
If you choose white gold engagement or wedding rings over rings made of platinum, you need to know that the white gold ring will cost a lot more than the platinum ring in the long run.
Replating a white gold ring in a reputable local jewelry store costs about $35 – $40 in the chain jewelry stores, but you’d spend more than 3x this amount if rhodium plating is done in a specialty shop.
And since you may have to do this may be every year, the white gold ring will be quite expensive to maintain at the end of the day. Also, larger rings would be more expensive.
How long does it take to replate a white gold ring?
Generally, replating your white gold ring in rhodium is a quick process, but it could take longer or less time, depending on the store you take the ring to. But, there is an odd chance that the piece would be replated in a day.
Before the white gold ring is replated, the ring is first polished and cleaned, and the old plating layer is removed. The ring has to look and feel flawless before replating is done, which is why it is thoroughly cleaned to get rid of any/ all contaminants. Leaving some contaminants behind would be counteractive because the contaminants or flaws would result in the premature erosion of the new coat of rhodium. Thorough cleaning is also essential for the maintenance of the longevity of the plating solution. It’s also worth noting that rhodium is twice as expensive as pure gold.
Once the ring is cleaned, replating/ electroplating will take about 1 minute, but the time it takes generally depends on the desired thickness of the rhodium layer.
That said, the white gold ring might be re-plated as frequently as you’d like. Replating hasn’t been shown to affect the structural integrity of the white gold ring.
If you lead an active lifestyle, you’d have to re-plate the ring at least once a year, maybe even twice a year in some cases.
The replating process is not always that easy, though. There are cases where replating will take a lot more time, especially when the white gold ring has a precious gemstone set on it and/or if it features delicate and more complex designs. A high level of complexity means more time is needed, and the cost of replating will go up to about $300 in some cases.
For fast service, you’d have to pay almost or more than double the standard rate. But if you are not in a hurry, you’d want to give the jeweler a few days or weeks to fix the ring.
The cost of replating a white gold ring is variable, but it often ranges from $35-$300 depending on the design of the ring, its delicacy, and the complexity of the ring’s design.