It has become more and more common to choose white gold over other materials for jewelry. White gold was developed in the early 1900s as an alternative to the exclusive platinum jewelry, which at that time was much more expensive than gold. The goal of the white gold was to get as platinum-colored as possible.
White gold is not pure precious metal like gold, so what does white gold actually contain?
White gold is an alloy
White gold is an alloy of mainly gold, silver, copper, and any of the white metals palladium, platinum or nickel. It is the white metal that gives the alloy its white color.
Is there nickel in white gold?
Until the 1980s, nickel was the predominantly white metal in white gold. After the problem of nickel allergy became more widespread, nickel white gold disappeared from the many markets. Today it is the different content of palladium in gold that determines how white the gold becomes. The most common is 18K white gold but there is also the lower carat content of 14K.
Plating of white gold
Once the jewelry is finished, the goldsmith usually plates the jewelry with a layer of rhodium. This makes the jewelry extra white and shiny. Rhodium plating, however, wears away over time, and in order for the jewelry to retain its color and luster it needs to be plated. In cases where the jewelry is not rubbed from the beginning, it does not need to be re-plated and the color retains, but the jewelry does not get the same white color.
A variety of white gold alloys have been developed and in some goldsmiths, alloys with nice names such as White Gold Diamond or White Gold Champagne can emerge. White gold alloys differ in color, luster, and hardness.
If you feel confused when ordering white gold jewelry, we recommend that you always buy white gold jewelry in reputable jewelry countries, since some countries still use nickel in their white gold.
Established jewelers primarily use 18K white gold, but 14K is also used as it is cheaper. It does not differ very much, but it can be interesting to know that it exists.