Why is the colour of my wedding ring changing?
After a few months, your once shinny wedding ring is changing tone and you are wondering why. In this article, you can find some of the reasons why this happens to your beloved ring and what to do about it.
What happens to the colour of Gold?
Gold comes in three different colours in the world of designer jewellery: 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 on a white gold ring.
Some gold is plated to appear a certain colour. White gold, for example, is mostly plated with white rhodium to appear whiter in colour. What you see on a white gold ring is only the plating. Over time, this thin layer can come off. This is partly due to the acidity of your skin, and partly due to daily wear causing the plating to wear down. When the plating comes off, you’ll see the actual colour of the gold showing through, a slightly yellowish white.
Why is white Gold plated?
White gold is not completely white, but more a yellowish white. This is because 18ct gold has a content of 75% of pure yellow gold and 25% of other metals. In the case of white gold, the 25% is made of a mix of white metals, making it whiter, but not totally. Therefore, it is plated to make it appear whiter.
How long your rhodium plating lasts varies depending on your personal skin chemistry and your lifestyle. If you have highly acidic skin, it will wear down faster. Additionally, if you wear your rings when cleaning, or get them frequently when wet, the plating won’t last as long. This applies to any kind of plated jewellery as well, like silver.
There are mainly two types of 18ct white gold that are 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, the mix becomes whiter in tone. This 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” that is coated in rhodium. In this case, the 25% is a mix of other cheaper metals, and not as white. So, when the rhodium comes off the layer underneath appears showing a yellowish white.
In both cases, every few years, you can get your white gold rings and jewellery re-dipped in rhodium to maintain the appearance and make it shine as new again. Most jewellers will do this for free or very affordably.
Other golds, like yellow and rose gold, can change colour due to very similar reasons. 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 to keep your silver jewellery in zippy bags, away from humidity and air. This will keep your jewellery in shape for much longer.
Acid from your skin or from cleaning agents can dull the colour of gold and even make it become discoloured in places. 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 change the colour. Sometimes even the chemicals in your perfume or soap can cause discoloration.
Most of these types of reactions are just surface-level reactions to topical chemicals. A quick wipe with jewellery cleaner, and your ring should stay looking great.
But 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 stains 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 very stable metal and will keep the same colour as the day you bought your ring. This is the reason why Platinum has been traditionally chosen for bridal jewellery, as it is the most resistant precious metal to everyday wear.
On the other hand, when you come into the shop to buy your ring, platinum will be slightly less shinny and sparkly than white gold.
As time goes by it will also become a little bit duller than the first day. But, this is easily fixable. Just take it to your jeweller of preference to give a good polish. Your ring will then start shining just as new.
Keep an eye on your jewellery and clean it when you see any discoloration. This should keep it looking great for many years to come.
Quick recap on what to do if your wedding ring has changed colour:
- If your PLATINUM wedding ring is looking a bit dull, take it for a re-polish at your local jewellers.
- If your WHITE GOLD wedding ring looks different colour that when you bought it, take it for a re-polish and rhodium plating to your local jewellers.
- If your YELLOW GOLD wedding ring looks dull, give it a good rub with a jewellery cloth or take it for a re-polish to your local jewellers.
- If your ROSE GOLD wedding ring has areas with darker tones (oxidation), give it a good rub with a jewellery cloth or take it for a re-polish to your local jewellers.
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