You’ve seen white gold rings and bracelets in the jewelry store and you probably even own some. But what is white gold? Is it really gold? It is a better quality of the usual yellow gold?
White gold is just as valuable as yellow gold. Its purity is judged by karats in exactly the same way as yellow gold. The difference is that it is white in color instead of yellow. But how did it turn white?
First of all, yellow gold jewelry is usually not pure gold. Pure gold is very soft and it isn’t very practical for jewelry because it would bend out of shape very easily. So, to make gold worthy of jewelry, it needs to be melted and mixed with other, tougher metals. How much gold is in this lump of gold when they are done mixing it is determined by the weight of pure gold they put into the mix. So, if you have an 18K gold ring, there is 18K of gold in that mix of gold that made that ring. A 14K gold ring would be a much tougher ring because it has more alloy (other metals) in it.
For white gold, they mix white metals with the natural and pure yellow gold. The alloy metals they mix in might be palladium, platinum, manganese or nickel. Sometimes there might also be a bit of zinc, copper or silver mixed in, also. This mix will also follow the rules of 18K, 14K, 10K, etc., depending on the amount of gold added to the mix.
Allergic to White Gold
Some people are allergic to white gold and will break out in a rash wherever this metal touches them. The reason this happens is that the person is allergic not to the gold itself, but to the nickel that was mixed with it to make the white gold. Nickel allergy is a very common allergy. This is why most American and European gold manufacturers will now avoid using nickel in the mixture when they make white gold. Unfortunately, if you get a deal on an older ring made of white gold at an estate sale, you might get stuck with a ring that you can’t wear. So, it is important that you purchase newly made white gold jewelry, if nickel allergy is a problem for you.
White Gold is Plated
White gold rings and pendants are so beautiful and it is nice to have a variety of precious metals in your jewelry box. However, white gold is actually more of a gray or sometimes more of a pink color naturally. It isn’t that lovely shiny white color until it is plated with the metal rhodium. It is actually the rhodium that you like that is so pretty, not the white gold itself.
Purity of Gold
Pure yellow gold is 24 karat gold, which is 100%. All the colored golds are going to be less than that, of course, because of the other metals that are added to color the gold. White gold will start at 18K gold and go down in karats from there. It is the same as with other colors of gold, too, such as blue gold, green gold, rose gold, pink gold, etc.
How to Find White Gold Jewelry
Most of the jewelry manufacturers offer designs that they put out for display, but they will make that design in a variety of precious metals. Engagement rings, in particular, are usually available in your choice of gold in yellow, rose or a white color. You can probably also get that ring made in palladium, platinum or sometimes silver. It all depends on what the jewelry store is offering and what the brand that makes that design offers.
Most fine jewelers offer white gold choices on many of the rings and other jewelry that they sell. You won’t find choices like that in the smaller stores that stock low quality jewelry. For white gold, you’ll need to go to a fine jeweler that is full service such as Ben David Jewelers in Danville, VA. There you will find numerous choices in precious metals and also gemstones to set in your new white gold ring. Stop by anytime Monday through Saturday to browse the many designs in white gold jewelry.
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