White gold is made from a combination of pure yellow gold and certain metals that harden the alloy and give it a white tint. Palladium, silver, nickel, copper, and zinc are some secondary metals that can be utilized in white gold. The whiteness of the alloy is determined by the metals used and the amounts in which they are combined.
History of White Gold
White gold has existed for centuries since it was first discovered in 18th-century Germany. However, it wasn’t popularly used in jewelry production until early in the 20th century as a replacement for platinum.
Platinum (which was more expensive than gold) had been the most popular high-end white jewelry and had been this way for centuries. However, during the First World War, the material jewelers used for upper-class jewelry was now useful for war because of its durability. Soon, countries began to stockpile platinum and saved it for batteries, cells, and weapons.
In America, jewelers were banned from using platinum as it was reserved for military use only. To meet the demand for high-grade white jewelry, jewelers soon began to switch to the popular use of white gold. Even after wartime, when jewelers could make platinum jewelry again, white gold had become the jewelry market’s stronghold.
How White Gold is Made
In its purest form, gold has a bright yellowish color; however, this pure (24 karat gold) is not suitable for making jewelry because it is too soft. This softness makes it hard for gold to retain its shape, and it also makes it scratch very easily. To make up for this, gold is usually mixed with other metals, and this mixture affects the color of the gold.
White gold is an alloy made up of a mixture of gold and another white metal. However, when white gold is made, it is not usually white; instead, it is a dull yellowish or gray color. The degree of yellowness that the white gold has in this state is determined by the amount of gold it’s made up of; the more gold, the more yellow it’ll be.
The Use Of Rhodium Plating In White Gold
White gold is usually plated to make it have the white sheen that many people know and love it for. The primary metal used for this plating is rhodium, a metal that looks like platinum. The use of rhodium plating over white gold jewelry makes the jewelry color uniform.
Rhodium is popularly used because of its high luster, resistance to corrosion and oxidation, and it bonds perfectly with the gold alloy. Trace amounts of nickel are usually found in white gold, and many people are allergic to this metal; rhodium plating acts as a kind of protection from the nickel.
Rhodium is a durable metal; however, it eventually wears down with use, especially in jewelry like rings. Once the rhodium plating begins to wear out, the color of the jewelry would no longer be uniform, and the jewelry would lose its luster. While there is no harm to the gold underneath, you would need to re-plate the white gold jewelry to restore all the advantages of the rhodium plating.
Advantages of White Gold
Different types of metals are used to make jewelry nowadays; why should you consider choosing white gold. Also, there are different types of gold that you can get in a jewelry store, so what makes white gold stand out?
Historically, gold has been arguably the most desired metal in the jewelry industry. Songs, poetry, and art have been made about the value and beauty of gold; however, many people cannot afford pure 24-karat gold. Nowadays, the alloying of gold with other cheaper metals makes it more accessible than ever before, unlike the days when it was reserved for nobility.
White gold is also cheaper than platinum, another white-ish metal used to manufacture jewelry. The price of white gold is determined majorly by the purity of the metal. In short, the higher the gold content in the jewelry, the more expensive the jewelry would likely be.
Pure gold is not used in jewelry production because it is a very soft metal and doesn’t hold its shape well; also, pure gold scratches easily. However, gold is not susceptible to oxidation and corrosion and can last very long under extreme conditions. White gold gives wearers the best of both worlds.
Firstly, once the metal is alloyed, it becomes more rigid and is no longer as soft as it once was. On the other hand, the high gold content in white gold means it’s a piece of jewelry that you’ll surely use for many years. In some instances, the only issue might be the need to replicate the jewelry’s rhodium surface.
Many people have a special attraction to the distinct color of pure gold. However, there is still a huge market of jewelry users who prefer white-looking jewelry. While they could switch to alternatives like silver and platinum, it’s satisfying for many to know that they can have white-looking gold jewelry.
White gold jewelry is sometimes mixed with other types of gold to make stunning pieces. A good example is this 14k Tricolor Gold Interlocking Women’s Bangle Bracelet.
How To Maintain White Gold
1. Don’t Use White Gold Jewelry In The Pool
One of the great enemies of white gold is chlorine; this chemical can damage your white gold jewelry. Chlorine is used in swimming pools, so you must always take off your white gold jewelry before going in the pool. Also, taking off your jewelry before entering the shower is a great idea as tap water contains trace amounts of chlorine in some places.
2. Clean And Polish Your White Gold Jewelry Regularly
At the end of every day, you should clean your white gold jewelry, removing any dirt that might have accumulated on the jewelry throughout the day. To ensure that the jewelry has a bit extra sheen, you can use a silver polishing cloth after wiping the jewelry. Also, it would be best if you tried to wash your jewelry regularly with non-abrasive and non-moisturizing cleaners.
3. Take White Gold Jewelry To Jewelers For Maintenance
Scratched white gold jewelry is usually vulnerable to more damage. The best way to prevent this is to take it to a jeweler. They would find a solution to the scratches on your jewelry which could be either to polish and smooth it or to give it a complete sodium replating. Also, you should take your jewelry for routine replating when you observe that the rhodium plate is wearing off.
What is Better Platinum or White Gold?
White gold was popularized as the heir apparent of platinum and has remained popular ever since. However, there are reasons why one might prefer one or the other.
Unplated white gold has a beige hue that’s incomparable to the whiteness of platinum. However, when white gold is rhodium-plated, it outshines platinum.
2. Strength And Maintenance
White gold is stronger than platinum and even harder; however, when it is scratched, it can be more easily maintained to remove the scratch marks. Also, buying plated white gold means constantly replating your jewelry to maintain its sheen; with platinum, you have no such worries.
Most white gold contains nickel which makes it a hypoallergenic metal. However, if you choose to use platinum, you won’t have to worry about allergies.
In the price comparison, platinum and white gold aren’t even close as platinum is more expensive than even 24-karat gold. White gold is therefore the more affordable option of the two.
Read More: What is Rose Gold Jewelry?