White Gold Explained
We all know about gold. Gold is a lustrous yellow metal that looks great in jewellery. Valuable, heavy, hypoallergenic, but soft, not hard-wearing. Gold jewellery can be found in a variety of colours depending upon the metals chosen to be mixed with the pure gold. White and rose gold, along with yellow gold, are the most popular with jewellery buyers.
White gold is also gold, but a white metal that looks almost like silver or platinum.
Historically the classic yellow gold has been the most popular form of gold used in jewellery, over the past 50 years or so, white gold has become the most popular form.Today, white metals, including white gold, are considered the natural choice for engagement rings.
So, what is white gold? How is white gold made? What are the advantages and disadvantages of white gold for use in jewellery?
What Is White Gold?
White gold is a mixture of pure gold with at least one other white metal. The metals used in white gold are typically palladium, silver or nickel. Nickel gives the hardest and strongest alloy but can cause skin irritation in some wearers.
The other metals in the alloy make the colour less golden, add strength, making the jewellery more durable and less easily scratched.
9-karat gold contains just 37.5% gold, 14- karat white gold is 58.5% pure gold, while 18-karat white gold contains 75% gold. The karat rating refers to the percentage of gold in the alloy. The more gold in the mixture, the softer the resulting metal and thus less durable. Of course, the more gold is present, the more costly the jewellery will be.
Oddly enough, white gold is not actually white until it is plated with rhodium, a white metal similar to platinum. Not only does the rhodium coating make the metal white, but it polishes to a high shine, resists oxidation and corrosion. Very few people are sensitive or allergic to rhodium.
Without the rhodium coating, the gold alloy used as the basis of white gold jewellery is an off-white, dull yellowish or even grey colour.
In the UK, all jewellery that weighs more than 1 gram is hallmarked, a small stamp, somewhere on the piece that shows the article contains the stated amount of the precious metal.
White gold as about the same value as yellow gold because both forms at any given carat rating have the same amountof gold. The rhodium coating on white gold may make it slightly more costly than yellow gold.
The Advantages And Disadvantages Of White Gold In Jewellery
White gold is the ideal choice for anyone who prefers the silvery-white appearance over yellow or rose-coloured gold.
With a similar appearance to silver and platinum, white gold is harder wearing than silver and much less expensive than platinum.
Many people prefer the more substantial feeling of white gold because it is heavier than both platinum or silver.
The mixture of metals is more durable than pure gold. White gold is more suitable for daily wear than 24-k pure gold, which can only ever be the classic yellow colour.
White gold flatters diamonds, making them appear even more white. Yellow gold tends to give even the whitest of diamonds a warmer, yellower hue as the gem picks up light reflected from the gold of the setting.
White gold looks very good when worn by a person with white or rosy skin colouration.
Looks very similar to silver but will not tarnish and is more scratch-resistant.
The rhodium coating used on all white gold jewellery wears away over time, exposing the yellow or grey of the metal below. Your white gold jewellery will need to be re-coated every few years, because of the wear and tear they receive, rings may require re-coating once a year or so.
This is not an expensive process, costing less than £50 at most jewellers but is an ongoing expense and inconvenience if your jewellery is always to look its best!
Nickel is used as one of the components of most white gold. Some people have an allergic reaction to nickel in jewellery. This is not a problem unless the rhodium coating has begun to wear away. If you have a known sensitivity to nickel, then check with the seller about the composition of the alloy in any jewellery you plan to buy.
If you want your jewellery to be made in white metal, white gold is an excellent choice. White gold offers a balance of cost and durability and is visually almost impossible to distinguish from either silver or platinum.
In comparison to yellow gold, the choice is down to personal preference. In many cases, jewellery is made in bothwhite and yellow gold to suit the tastes of customers. Buy whichever one best takes your fancy!