Gold is available in three colours: yellow, white, and rose.
Over time, the colour of gold jewellery can change due to wear and chemical reactions with the environmental elements it comes into contact with. The biggest change will happen to a white gold ring.
White gold isn't completely white, but more a yellowish white.
This is because 18ct gold has a content of 75% pure yellow gold and 25% other metals. In the case of white gold, the 25% is a mix of metals employed to make the finished product as white as possible. However, even with these elements, a total white hue is rarely achieved. Therefore, white gold is often plated to make it appear even whiter.
There are two types of 18ct white gold generally used in jewellery making. The first, and our preferred option, is “high palladium white gold”, which is naturally whiter. Palladium is an exceptionally white metal, so when the 25% of other metals has a high palladium content, a seriously white tone can be achieved.
"This palladium mix will appear white for much longer, even after the plating begins to wear thin, as the gold underneath is naturally whiter."
The other is 'standard white gold', coated in rhodium. In this case, the 25% of other metals is a mix of cheaper elements that aren't as white as palladium. So, when the rhodium plating wears off, the layer revealed underneath is yellowish-white in hue.
In both cases, every few years, you can get your white gold jewellery re-dipped in rhodium to maintain its silvery appearance and make it shine like new again. Most jewellers will do this for free, or very affordably.
Yellow and rose gold can also change colour due to oxidation or chemical reactions.
Oxidation is a process caused by simple daily exposure to oxygen, which can eventually affect the colours of different precious metals. For example, this is what causes silver to turn black. We always advise that keep your silver jewellery in zippy bags, away from humidity and air. This will keep your jewellery in shape for much longer.
If you work around a lot of heat and fire (in a kitchen, in a forge), then you could be exposing your ring to too much heat, which could also change its colour. Sometimes even the chemicals in your perfume or soap can cause discolouration.
Acid from your skin or from cleaning agents can dull the colour of gold and even discolour it in places. If you notice stains that simply won’t go away, you may need to have your jewellery cleaned and re-polished by a jeweller. These types of tough stain can occur when the metal alloy in the gold jewellery (the 25%), like copper in rose gold, has reacted differently than the gold itself (the 75%).
Platinum is a super stable metal and so a platinum wedding ring will retain its colour from the day it's slipped onto your finger for the first time and years beyond that. This resilience is the reason that platinum is the traditional choice for bridal jewellery; it's perfect from everyday wear.
On the other hand, platinum does appear slightly less sparkly and shiny than brand new white gold, so it might not catch your eye in the shop in the same way.
Good luck and don't forget - we're here to help! If you have any questions or wish to make use of any of our maintenance services, get in touch today.