All About White Gold
White gold is a popular metal that has more of a silver tone within the white hue and is mostly preferred for engagement rings. It is prepared by blending gold alloy with a variety of white metals such as silver, nickel and palladium. For those who don’t like the yellow shade of yellow gold often choose white gold for their jewellery. Also, it is a more affordable option over platinum as white gold is lighter and cheaper than platinum. Its neutral shade and durability make it the perfect setting for all gemstones, including diamonds. White gold jewellery
looks beautiful and classic with any outfit, be it traditional or modish.
Composition and Colour
White gold is an alloy comprising authentic yellow gold and other white metals in a varying mixture. Metals commonly used to create white gold include platinum, nickel, palladium & manganese. White gold jewellery may contain different amounts of pure gold in it. The properties of this alloy, along with its colour, depends on its chemical composition. The most preferred variety is 18 karat white gold with a high purity level of gold. It is made up of 75% gold and only 25% other metals, giving it a high value. However, pieces made of 14 karat white gold are more durable, because they contain 58.3% pure gold and 41.7% alloys.
The resulting white gold alloy still appears pale pink or dull brownish, which is why jewellers use rhodium plating over it to create the sparkling white colour that we see in the jewellery made out of the precious metal. Over time, this rhodium plating may wear off and appear dull. The good thing is that the jewellery piece
can be plated again with rhodium to bring back its white sheen.
The shining white gold metal as we know today is said to be created in the 1920s. However, the origin of white gold goes back to 1710, when two German alchemists composed it. Another metal resembling white gold with a grey finish was introduced in 1752.
When the exact history of white gold being commercialized is mentioned, there are two variations to the story. One is that it was invented during 1920 by the Belais brothers by combining the metals gold, nickel and zinc. The brothers started experimenting with white gold formulas to substitute platinum, as platinum was an expensive metal that could not be afforded by everyone. They kept testing alloys until sometime in the 1930s.
The other variation says that white gold was created by a German chemist named Karl Richter, in 1915, and the metal made was the fusion of gold and nickel with palladium. It is believed that after World War II, some countries started stocking platinum to make batteries, cells and other necessities for military use. Due to its deficiency, jewellers decided to promote another lookalike metal in place of platinum. They started mixing nickel, palladium or zinc to pure gold to bleach its yellow hue and turn it into a white metal that we now know as white gold.
White Gold Varieties
White gold is available in 14 karats, 18 karats or 21 karats of variety depending on the jewellery being made and the first two varieties are the most popular ones. Today, there exists a variety of formulas for making white gold whiter and brighter. A combination containing 75% Gold mixed with 17.3% Nickel, 5.5% Zinc and 2.2% Copper is of silvery in appearance. Another is a blend of 75% Gold, 15% Silver and 10% Titanium. As mentioned earlier, a plating of rhodium also makes the white gold look whiter, giving it more shine. Rhodium-plated white gold is also a suitable option as it offers a barrier between the skin and nickel alloy to avoid allergies.
Moreover, white gold is available in green colour as well, which is created by merging gold and silver, excluding copper. Cadmium is mixed to achieve the different green tint, and a higher quantity of cadmium gives out a darker green shade. Black shade in gold is created by the process of electroplating black rhodium or ruthenium on pure gold.
14K White Gold vs 18K White Gold
Although both the varieties of white gold appear to be exactly the same, the differences between 14k and 18k go beyond purity, extending to durability and colour.
18 karat white gold is relatively soft and flexible, while 14-karat white gold is much more reliable, more durable and more scratch-resistant. Although alloys may lessen the quality of the gold, 14k white gold is often considered a better option due to its features mentioned above.
Even though they look alike, there is a difference in colour. 18k white gold tends to look whiter and brighter than 14k white gold because of its higher purity. Nevertheless, it is almost rare to see engagement rings in white gold that don’t have rhodium plating. The rhodium plating on both 14k and 18k white gold engagement rings give the setting that white shine and lustre we all love.