If you fancy a white gold engagement ring, chances are you've heard the term "rhodium plating" at one point or another. Rhodium plating is a common industry practice that is used to plate white gold. At Ken & Dana Design, we offer both rhodium-plated and non-rhodium plated options in our 14k and 18k white gold.
The image below shows two 14k white gold engagement rings -- one with rhodium plating (bottom) and the other without rhodium plating (top). You can see that the ring with rhodium plating has a bright white finish, while the ring without rhodium plating has a softer, slightly grayish-yellow tone.
The truth about white gold is that there is actually no such thing as "white" gold. Gold itself is a yellow-metallic element that is quite soft. As a result, gold is often mixed with other metals to produce an alloy. An alloy is simply a mixture of two or more metals. White metals are combined with gold to create a white gold alloy, which still retains a slight grayish-yellow cast before rhodium plating. Some people actually prefer this unique color, because its organic feel compliments our sculptural aesthetic. However, most people prefer the bright white color that is traditionally associated with engagement rings -- this is where the rhodium plating comes in.
Image: Pure Rhodium Bead
Rhodium is a precious metal that is part of the platinum family. It is more expensive than gold and has a shiny white quality to it that makes it perfect for plating white gold. Rhodium plating does wear off over time and the rate at which it wears depends on a number of factors, including body oils, exposure to lotions/creams/fragrances, and abrasive conditions. Some of our clients have had their white gold engagement rings for years without the patina fading, while others have required re-plating after a year. You can pro-long the life of your rhodium plating by treating your jewelry with care, which means keeping it away from harmful conditions and storing it in your jewelry box when it's not being worn. And don't worry -- we offer re-plating services for a nominal fee to restore your ring's bright white color.