White gold is a popular alternative to yellow gold, silver, or platinum. While white gold contains varying amounts of gold, which is always yellow, it also contains one or more white metals to lighten its color and add strength and durability.
The purity of white gold is expressed in karats, the same as with yellow gold. The gold content is typically stamped into the metal (e.g., 10K, 18K). Pure gold is 24 karats meaning, 24 out of 24 parts are gold. 14 karats white gold is 14 parts gold, and 10 parts white metals like palladium, platinum, and zinc. The white metals lighten the yellow color of gold. To give white gold a white, bright, and shiny finish, the jewellery is rhodium plated. Rhodium is a rare, white hard metal in the platinum family.
The properties of white gold, including its color, depend on its composition. Although most people think white gold is a shiny white metal, that color is actually from the rhodium metal plating that is applied to all white gold jewelry. Without the rhodium coating, white gold might be gray, dull brown, or even pale pink.
Typically, rhodium plating needs to be reapplied every couple years especially for rings. Out of all your white gold jewellery, rings on your hands are most exposed to daily wear and tear. To prolong the life of the plating: remove rings while cleaning. Common chemicals used around the house, such as hairspray, perfume, furniture polish, chlorine, bleach, and hair dye have the potential to cause lasting damage to your white gold rings. If your rings appear dull, and darker, it means they need to be re-plated.