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Why does your white gold turn yellow? 

And how to fix it?

Is your white gold jewelry slowly fading to a yellowing shine? Don't stress; it's not that your sebum or sweat is staining it, nor is it because you got a low-quality piece of bling. And you're not alone!

We got emails from clients asking why their gorgeous white gold wedding band or the prongs of their engagement ring and studs are turning yellow.

The quick answer: it's normal.

Now, sit back with a cup of tea and your yellowing-yet-still-beautiful jewelry in your palm, and keep reading for the longform answer…

(updated September 2021)

What is white gold anyway?

Pure gold is always yellow. In fact, white gold does not exist in nature. Pure, 24 karat gold is too soft to be used in jewelry and that’s why it’s mixed with other metals that make it durable enough to be worn daily. These metals include copper, silver, nickel, palladium and zinc.

At Gardens of the Sun, we mix our own gold alloys with ethical gold, and add metals like copper and silver to it. We use 18 karat gold, which means that 18 out of 24 parts – or 75% – is pure gold (hence why in some countries, it gets a 750 stamp rather than an 18k stamp). That remaining 25% is where the mix of metals come to play – a higher amount of copper will lead to rose gold, and more silver will make it more pale.

Then how is white gold made?

Back in the day, people used nickel to give white gold its shiny white metal look. However, many people (myself included!) are allergic to nickel and most quality jewelers won't use nickel anymore. Likewise, Gardens of the Sun does not use any nickel in any of our jewelry products. That said, we import our solder material from the UK and it may contain the slightest trace amounts of nickel (our supplier is legally obliged to mention this). Unfortunately, we can't control everything.

Nowadays, many jewelers use palladium in their white gold, which gives it a grey tone and less of a warm yellow hue. When using traditional artisanal smithing methods, it can be challenging to get our temperatures high enough to properly melt the palladium. 

When palladium isn't melted properly, it can affect the quality of the finished jewelry. Our artisanal gold smiths can't get high enough temperatures to melt palladium. That's why at Gardens of the Sun, we use silver and zinc in our white gold, rather than palladium.

So why does white gold turn yellow?

As the plating is only a very thin top layer, the rhodium tends to fade over time. This is especially true around prongs and corners, which gets the most wear and tear.

As our white gold still contains more gold than "white" metals, the dominant color underneath still has a grey color with a warm golden hue.

How quickly the rhodium fades depends on a bunch of factors:

Are you active? 

Do you fidget with your rings when you're nervous? 

Are you an obsessive polisher? (Like some of us at the studio here…)

Do you wear your jewelry when you jump into the pool or let it come in contact with household cleaners?

Do you surf and forget you've got jewelry on and have had at least three close calls to losing your bling in the barrel?

If you answered yes to any, or all, of the above, chances are your white gold ring is turning yellow even now as you're reading this.

How do I get that white metal glow back?

There's no other way around it – your white gold jewelry will have to be re-plated to get that white platinum shine again. It's not a complicated process and your local jeweler should be able to do it for you.

If you purchased your ring from us, you're welcome to send it back and we'll gladly dip that piece in rhodium for you. In fact, we've done it for many of our clients. The first re-dip is on us. 

Just get in touch to let us know if you need help in the whitening department, and in the meantime, feast your eyes on some glorious pieces that'll inspire you to go for the gold.

Wait! There's more you need to know about gold...