5 Tips to Safely Clean your White Gold Engagement and Wedding rings
If your sixth sense didn't start to play the theme for Jaws as you pulled out the old Handy Andy to clean your white gold wedding ring then I suggest a good telling off of your sixth sense!
If you sixth sense is behaving, then I am guessing you Googled this blog post before you started. If that is not the case and the results of your cleaning already has you fist deep into a box of tissues, do not despair, all is not lost!
The first thing you need to know about white gold – it’s more than likely plated! This doesn’t mean your jeweller crooked you – that is just how it comes.
White gold on its own isn’t the most attractive metal in my opinion and apparently, most of the industry thinks that too. That beautiful white “gold” on your ring is Rhodium plating on top of either yellow gold or white gold.
Rhodium plating is not permanent and will need to be redone multiple times over your life - please check out an article at the end of this post with some great info on replating.
So back to how you clean it – rhodium plating is only a few microns thick so it does wear off over time. So a harsh cleaner and a rough brushing and well, let's just say you should have put the earphones on those under the age of 18 before you started because things are going to get a bit four letter "wordish"!!!
So here are the basic tips to follow to make this cleaning suitable for all ages.
The very first thing to do is to inspect the settings if there are any. The last thing you want to do is find out that your diamond setting is damaged as you open the tap over the gaping mouth of a drain!
Place your finger or soft pencil on the stone and gently push, while over a solid surface of course! If it moves even a micron – put that ring in a safe container and take it straight to your local jewellery to fix the setting!
If the stones are secure you can move on to step two.
Take a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of mild detergent (that would be ammonia and phosphate-free detergent). I’ve seen some advice about adding ammonia (i.e. the dreaded Handy Andy) – just don’t!!!!
It might work for some but from what I have seen first-hand over the years with Rhodium plating it is just a bad idea. If the plating has already started to wear from normal use this could just speed-up your need to get it replated.
Allow the piece to soak for about 20 to 30 minutes.
Take a soft brush and dip it in some of the mild detergent and gently brush – this will help to remove any remaining debris especially around settings. I would not recommend using baking soda – even though baking soda is a mild abrasive it will still scratch away at the Rhodium plating and land you in the jewellers for the re-plating of your ring.
If it still looks dirty repeat #3
Once you are satisfied you have removed all the dirt, place it in a mesh sieve and run fresh water over it until all traces of the soap are gone. Dry it with a soft cloth. If it has a lot of nooks and crannies and you can’t get it completely dry I would pop it in an egg cup full of rice. Do you remember the old advice to drop your wet cell phone in a box of rice – rice can do the same for those hard to reach places behind gemstones too.
With all white gold, you will get to a point that you have to re-plate it but if you follow these steps, you can extend the life of your Rhodium plating. If you start to see a yellow or grey undertone – it is probably time to see your jeweller for a re-plating.
You may be wondering why I am talking about white gold and rhodium plating when I don't even work with those materials. I am a silversmith and that is really the only metal I work in aside from copper and brass on occasion. I've only become an authority on cleaning white gold because over the years I have on numerous occasions offered a cup of tea and a tissue to clients who have had a heart attack when their cleanings have gone wrong.
So here's hoping you read this before you started to clean your white gold rings and if not don't worry as Marie Forleo says, "Everything is "figuroutable"! If you need a shoulder to cry on, suggestions on where to get your white gold re-done or general questions please contact me.