Gold jewelry is renowned for its captivating beauty and timeless appeal. However, there are instances when gold jewelry may undergo color changes, turning white or even red. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind these transformations and discuss potential solutions for restoring the original appearance of gold jewelry.

Why Does Gold Jewelry Turn White?

There are primarily two factors that contribute to the whitening of gold jewelry.

1. Friction between Gold and White Jewelry:

When gold jewelry and white gold or silver jewelry are worn together, the constant friction between them can cause the transfer of metal particles. This phenomenon leads to a color change in the areas where the friction occurs, resulting in scuff marks on the surface of the gold jewelry.

2. Interaction with Mercury:

The whitening of gold jewelry can also be attributed to its interaction with mercury present in the environment. Gold jewelry comes into contact with substances containing mercury and undergoes a reaction, forming compounds of white gold-mercury. Mercury exists in both liquid and gaseous forms in our surroundings.

Chemical Process

Gold amalgamates with mercury more effectively than many other metals due to the wetting ability of gold amalgam. Mercury selectively wets gold and penetrates its interior. As the temperature rises, mercury gradually diffuses deeper into the gold, leading to the formation of gold amalgam compounds such as Au2Hg and ultimately Au3Hg, which is non-toxic.

The Main Causes of Gold Jewelry Whitening

The primary causes of gold jewelry whitening, resulting from mercury exposure, are as follows:

1. Presence of Mercury in the Environment.

2. Contact between Gold Jewelry and Mercury.

3. Use of Cosmetics Containing Mercury.

Among these causes, the first two occurrences are relatively rare and accidental, while the third cause is more common. It is worth noting that the whitening phenomenon in gold jewelry is predominantly observed among individuals who frequently use mercury-containing cosmetics, which gradually imparts traces of mercury to the gold jewelry over time.

Restoring Whitened Gold Jewelry

If gold jewelry becomes discolored, it is advisable to seek assistance from a local gold store. Professionals at the store can employ a specialized torch-heating treatment to restore the jewelry’s original appearance. As mercury has a low melting point, the heating process causes the mercury to evaporate, thereby rejuvenating the gold jewelry’s color.

Important Considerations

Never attempt to use a fire engine or any open flame to address the discoloration issue.

The restoration process carried out by professionals does not compromise the original color of the gold jewelry.

Causes of Gold Jewelry Turning Red

Despite its high gold content, gold jewelry may still contain impurities that can lead to a red coloration.

Prolonged exposure to a sulfur-containing environment may result in red spots on the surface of gold jewelry. Additionally, contact with acids can cause red spots due to oxidation of impurities within the gold and the formation of an oxide layer on the jewelry’s surface.


Understanding the causes of color changes in gold jewelry is essential for maintaining its beauty and value. Whether it turns white or red, appropriate measures can be taken to restore gold jewelry to its original appearance.

By being aware of the factors that contribute to these color changes, individuals can better care for their cherished gold pieces and ensure their longevity and aesthetic appeal.