Two-tone jewelry is extremely popular.
And for a good reason, nowadays most people wear both yellow gold and white gold jewelry at the same time.
Two-tone jewelry helps bridge that gap. It allows you to wear both colors and everything looks good together.
But did you know that a lot of so-called “two-tone” jewelry isn’t really two-tone?
It’s actually two-tone plated.
That’s right, it’s plated to look like it’s two-tone.
Can you tell from the picture to the right which one is plated and which one is real?
Official two-tone jewelry is jewelry that actually contains two different types of metals or two different types of colors.
Like white gold and yellow gold (the most popular mix).
Platinum and 18Kt yellow gold is another popular variety.
Yellow gold and rose gold…
Titanium and white gold…
Jewelers love to mix different metals and colors to create bold, new looks. Tungsten. Titanium. Green gold. They all work well.
How is two-tone jewelry made?
Real two-tone jewelry is made up by taking two separate pieces of metals (or colors) and soldering them together so they form one piece, like a ring or a pendant or earrings.
You can often tell if the item is really two pieces by how it’s put together and made. Two separate pieces will usually have sharp, distinct, crisp easy to spot edges.
Most modern day wedding bands are great displays of two-tone merchandise. See the image below of real two-tone jewelry.
You can definitely see the split between the colors and metals. There’s no doubt that these pieces are two-tone.
Fake two-tone jewelry:
But not all two-tone jewelry is created this way. Some items are meant to fool. To give the illusion…
Some are just yellow gold rings with an area plated with rhodium to make it look like white gold. A lot of inexpensive jewelry is done this way.
Sometimes these items look fine, but on closer inspection you may think twice about buying them. The plating is usually sloppy, blurry, uneven, jagged and sometimes it even looks painted on.
Some areas will be missing the plating while others will have the plating overlapping where it should be (like coloring outside of the lines). See image below of two-tone plated jewelry.
Downfalls to plated jewelry:
One of the biggest downfalls to plated jewelry is the fact that it won’t stay looking two-tone.
That plating will wear off and rub away and eventually turn yellow again. And it will also wear unevenly. Some areas will probably still look white (whitish), while others will look dingy yellow. It all depends on how thick the plating is and where the plating is. If it’s down in between grooves, below prongs, or down in channels it may last longer.
You’ll have to replate it:
When that plating wears off, you can take it to a jewelry store and have them re-plate it. But sometimes this doesn’t work out so well. Rhodium plating doesn’t always come out perfect and sometimes it just won’t even cling to the metal. Plus, rhodium plating is not cheap. It may not be worth getting it done.
The worst offenders?
Tennis bracelets are one of the worst plated items to buy. Once the plating wears down on these, forget it. Trying to re-plate them with all those moving pieces, parts and hinges is a nightmare. I wouldn’t even attempt it. I’ve seen it done before, it’s not pretty.
With plated jewelry you just never know how it’s going to look in a year from now, or even in a couple of months from now. Some plating wears off quicker than others. You may be happy with a two-tone plated ring, but it won’t help you much when it wears down and looks like one color. So much for two-tone.
The next time you go shopping for two-tone merchandise… Stop and take a good look at the item. Look at it under a microscope or a 10x jeweler’s loupe. See if it’s plated or if it’s actually two separate pieces fused together.
Plated jewelry will be cheaper, but you get what you pay for.
It may be worth the purchase…
Two-tone or not two-tone?
Now that is the question.
Author Richard Scott. Certified Diamontologist and Gemologist. 30 years of experience.
Let Richard help you choose the best diamond, the most dazzling engagement ring, and save as much money as possible. Read more about the author here. Follow Richard on social media; Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest. Contact Richard Scott here.