Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/Victorian ring


Hello Thomas, I bought a ring on e-bay a couple weeks ago. It came from England and is supposed to be from the Victorian period. It was marked 18ct and looked like it had a platinum or white gold head and yellow gold shank. At first I didn't know why it had 2 different colors on it but found another ring on an antique website that looked almost exactly the same as mine. I took it to get sized the other day and picked it up last night and the whole band looks yellow gold now. What do you think could have happened to it? Could they have dipped it or something?

Hello, Heather.

The combination of white head and yellow shank is not at all unusual. The earlier combinations of white and yellow are thought to be near the turn of the century, meaning from the 1800's to the 1900's. However, the white metal was generally platinum.  After around 1920 white gold alloys were developed and became popular as a lovely gold metal at less cost than platinum or white gold based on palladium.  

Today, virtually all yellow gold rings like solitaires and designs thought of as using diamonds as the primary gemstones will have a white gold or platinum head.  Of course, free form rings and items cast as one piece will often have the head as a built in part of the jewelry and will be yellow throughout. Two reasons are given for the use of white with a yellow band, both of which are quite valid.  The white gold or platinum does not add any sort of yellowish tint to a white(closer to colorless) diamond and is also a stronger and tougher metal.  Both white gold and platinum are superior metals for securing a stone in the setting.  The problem with white gold is that damage by chlorine and similar chemicals may cause serious damage to nickel based white gold.  Also, white gold is never pure white and is one of various mixes of yellow gold and metals such as palladium or nickel added to bring a white color to the rich naturally yellow gold. White gold is often electroplated with rhodium to give a whiter color than the alloy would have normally.

With the popularity of white gold and platinum in the trends of today, many ladies have their yellow gold rings rhodium plated to simulate a white gold color. This color will wear off in time.

My suggestion is to take the ring to the jeweler who did the sizing and simply ask why the color might look different than originally.  The yellow shank should still be yellow, however a buffed, cleaned and polished yellow. If the head is now yellow and was white, the odds are that the head was rhodium plated at some time and the white was buffed away when the ring was polished following sizing work.  I see no reason for the ring to have been given a yellow plate and even so, the head would have been masked off to preserve its white color.  See if the jeweler can  tell the metal of the head. If old as Victorian, the head would not be white gold but could be silver or platinum.  Silver is not going to turn yellow except by tarnish and platinum will retain the characteristic platinum white.  

If you are happy with the look of the ring, there is no concern. Simply wear it and enjoy! Still, for an explanation of why a color would change the jeweler will need to speak to that issue. Anymore I say will be only speculation.

God Bless and Peace.  Wonderful holidays wished for all.   Thomas.

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Have a question about jewelry repair or working with precious metal jewelry and gemstones? For many years up to December 31, 2010, I was a working professional bench jeweler, involved everyday with setting stones in mountings, designing and making jewelry, repairing and limited custom manufacture. If you work with jewelry as a hobby or as a profession, I might be able to help. I deal with the retail business, not mass production. Ask privately if you wish. See the box for that: It keeps your question between us. Please DO NOT ask MAKER'S MARKS, but metal quality marks are fine to ask. Please DO NOT ask diamond prices. See a gemologist for that.


I have extensive experience in design, service and making of jewelry. I deal mostly with precious metals and gemstones but work with many materials as needed and usable to create an artistic design. My experience also includes freelance photography and photographer of jewelry and similar items for a former employer and individuals. Design of custom items requires reading the desires of the client and being clear on what can be done within that framework...then fulfilling the transition of idea to reality. Effective communications is essential in a working designer/producer and customer relationship.

Education is English/Physics! Started in human resources, to advertising, to, what a road. I have had formal training in jewelry work and many shared experiences with top grade jewelers. We just never know were we will go or be. Follow your best, your dreams, with some discretion! Don't let the work tear up your body along the way as it has mine.

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