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White gold alloys and rhodium

Jsand

Shiny_Rock
Joined
May 6, 2019
Messages
162
Does anyone know if rhodium plating lasts longer on certain alloys of white gold?

My e-ring setting is 14k white gold, the alloy is made up of zinc, silver, palladium and copper.

My wedding band is 18k wg, the alloy contains only copper, nickel and zinc.

They’ve both had the same amount of wear but for some reason the 14k setting now looks completely unplated whereas the 18k band is still really white looking.

Is this normal? I’m not bothered by it, just find it really interesting to learn about jewellery and understand it’s varying properties.

04A3B771-ABEB-463C-8376-108CD53876CC.jpeg
 

oldminer

Ideal_Rock
Trade
Joined
Sep 3, 2000
Messages
6,378
The differences in the alloy metals and the percentage of each metal in each ring will have an effect on how the exterior of the ring oxidizes and also, to a lesser extent, how well the rhodium plating will adhere when worn. Also, you can't know if one ring was plated with a thicker coating of rhodium than the other, too.

No one is going to be able to reliably tell you why one ring gets yellower sooner than the other without a deep understanding of the chemistry of both ring shanks. Some gold buyer with an X-ray spectrometer can give you the exact alloy percentages and then a manufacturing metal expert might come up with a complete and correct response.
 

Jsand

Shiny_Rock
Joined
May 6, 2019
Messages
162
Thank you for the reply! I find this fascinating honestly.

I didn’t think it’d be as simple as “rhodium adheres better to an alloy containing nickel”, but having only had the 14k setting rhodium plated late December and purchasing the 18k band very shortly afterwards, the very visible difference between the two in such a short space of time is surprising.
 

headlight

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 2, 2003
Messages
2,256
I think it makes a difference as to what the combination of alloys are. The 14k white gold “secret sauce” used by CLIQ on their rings is so lustrous and has not lost a bit of that nor it’s appearance as confirmed by the fact I just got a second ring from them and there is actually not a difference. I asked them what the alloys and percentages are so that when the day comes that I need replating I could ask my local jeweler to do it that way and they would not tell me the secret!
Keep in mind I do not swim, jacuzzi, bathe, etc., with rings on.
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
20,553
Profile of the band makes a big difference - maybe the biggest difference here.

The round band - every part of the surface, aside from what's touching skin when you wear it, is able to easily come into contact with other surfaces. There are infinite radial tangents to each pinpoint region of the exterior of the band.

The flat band - for the the flat portion to wear, it would have to rub precisely parallel to a surface. That's much less likely! I'll be the plating has completely worn off the exterior edges of the flat band.

Depending on the exact alloys the metal underneath, plating loss could be significantly more or less visible. Wear of plating over a very-white-to-begin-with alloy will be much less noticeable than wear of plating over a creamy alloy.
 

Jsand

Shiny_Rock
Joined
May 6, 2019
Messages
162
Profile of the band makes a big difference - maybe the biggest difference here.

The round band - every part of the surface, aside from what's touching skin when you wear it, is able to easily come into contact with other surfaces. There are infinite radial tangents to each pinpoint region of the exterior of the band.

The flat band - for the the flat portion to wear, it would have to rub precisely parallel to a surface. That's much less likely! I'll be the plating has completely worn off the exterior edges of the flat band.

Depending on the exact alloys the metal underneath, plating loss could be significantly more or less visible. Wear of plating over a very-white-to-begin-with alloy will be much less noticeable than wear of plating over a creamy alloy.
I was hoping you’d weigh in @yssie !

This is even more interesting as the exterior edges’ plating on the flat band is still perfectly in tact too. And it’s from a very “affordable” online vendor (Noemie) so I wouldn’t expect it to have lasted so well.

You might remember I originally had the 14k setting (Ritani) unplated so I wonder if that has affected how any subsequent plating would last, as it’s actually been plated twice in its short lifetime. Also, the plating has come off the whole thing, including the head and prongs.

It was purchased in September last year unplated, then after a few weeks I changed my mind and had it plated, then again in December when I upgraded the stone.

7DFEE06A-528D-438B-A0BB-6029FD23DA46.jpeg
 

MWM

Rough_Rock
Trade
Joined
Aug 5, 2019
Messages
10
The nickel alloy in your wedding band is much harder and much whiter than the alloy of your engagement ring. For many (of my) years, 18k white nickel alloy gold was top white gold alloy available. Currently, in my world, 19k white gold is whiter than my platinum in side by side photos.

If your 18kw band is plated at all, the plating on your 18kw ring may be equally as worn as the 14kw ring and you are seeing the true color of the 18kw gold.

Back in the early 1990s, we grew tired of prong shear in 14k white gold, die struck heads and switched to the palladium white gold alternative. We never plated our work at all. After a couple of weeks, our palladium white gold engagement rings were coming back with bent prongs due to the much softer metal - even though it was die struck - and the finish looked as muddy as that of your engagement ring.

I'm going to try to attach my first PS photo now. There are three rings in this photo. The middle ring (#2) is 19k white gold. The others are my (900) platinum. No plating ever in my work shop. These are the natural color of the metal from which they are made.

I believe your 18k white gold ring is simply a harder, whiter alloy from the start. 19kw and plat color compare_005m-numbered.JPG
 

Jsand

Shiny_Rock
Joined
May 6, 2019
Messages
162
The nickel alloy in your wedding band is much harder and much whiter than the alloy of your engagement ring. For many (of my) years, 18k white nickel alloy gold was top white gold alloy available. Currently, in my world, 19k white gold is whiter than my platinum in side by side photos.

If your 18kw band is plated at all, the plating on your 18kw ring may be equally as worn as the 14kw ring and you are seeing the true color of the 18kw gold.

Back in the early 1990s, we grew tired of prong shear in 14k white gold, die struck heads and switched to the palladium white gold alternative. We never plated our work at all. After a couple of weeks, our palladium white gold engagement rings were coming back with bent prongs due to the much softer metal - even though it was die struck - and the finish looked as muddy as that of your engagement ring.

I'm going to try to attach my first PS photo now. There are three rings in this photo. The middle ring (#2) is 19k white gold. The others are my (900) platinum. No plating ever in my work shop. These are the natural color of the metal from which they are made.

I believe your 18k white gold ring is simply a harder, whiter alloy from the start. 19kw and plat color compare_005m-numbered.JPG
Thank you Mark for such a detailed and intriguing reply. It all makes total sense.

I adore the color of your 19k white gold, I can’t believe it is so white without plating! Is it an alloy you developed yourself?
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
20,553
@MWM Your 19k is bright white! Goodness. I've certainly never seen WG like that - even the usual Pd WG alloys - 14k and 18k! - show a slight cream against (any) Pt.

@Jsand I've had decent luck asking vendors what alloy they use, and/or what alloy the brand manufacturer uses - you might try if you're still curious!
 

MWM

Rough_Rock
Trade
Joined
Aug 5, 2019
Messages
10
Thank you Mark for such a detailed and intriguing reply. It all makes total sense.

I adore the color of your 19k white gold, I can’t believe it is so white without plating! Is it an alloy you developed yourself?
The whiteness of the 19k white gold is stunning. I made that comparison shot to prove to myself what I thought I was seeing.

As it is with any metal alloy, there are pluses and minuses to be considered when deciding whether it is appropriate to use in particular geometries / applications. Some folks are highly allergic to nickel. Hand fabrication with the 19kw alloy is like trying to bend glass.

It is not my recipe. When I asked the division head why this particular 19k is whiter than 18k, The answer was an old school "We don't know for sure". The developer is a global leader in alloys and process.

Where it is applies, it's pretty magical.
 

Jsand

Shiny_Rock
Joined
May 6, 2019
Messages
162
The whiteness of the 19k white gold is stunning. I made that comparison shot to prove to myself what I thought I was seeing.

As it is with any metal alloy, there are pluses and minuses to be considered when deciding whether it is appropriate to use in particular geometries / applications. Some folks are highly allergic to nickel. Hand fabrication with the 19kw alloy is like trying to bend glass.

It is not my recipe. When I asked the division head why this particular 19k is whiter than 18k, The answer was an old school "We don't know for sure". The developer is a global leader in alloys and process.

Where it is applies, it's pretty magical.
This is fascinating stuff - and I think I have found my holy grail metal! I’m not a fan of the patina that develops on platinum, and rhodium plating on other white golds is a pain. The “muddy” look as you perfectly put it does not suit me.

Going to email you for a quote, following this conversation I’ve been checking out your site and I’d be very interested in the MicroBurst setting when I upgrade my stone later this year. Do you make it in the 19k or just plat?
 
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MWM

Rough_Rock
Trade
Joined
Aug 5, 2019
Messages
10
@Jsand

Thank you for your interest.

I'm betting that I'd be stepping into forbidden territory if I answer your question on open channel.
I look forward to discussing this with you.I'll watch for your contact.

Stay safe
 
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