What Is White Gold?
White gold is one of the most stunning examples of how different colored gold can be utilized in jewelry, as proven by its increasing popularity. In rings, bracelets and necklaces, white gold has proven a beautiful, and cheaper, alternative to materials such as platinum. But what is white gold? Is it actually real gold? And if so, is it worth more than real gold?
What is white gold?
White gold does not exist in a natural state in nature. It is an alloy made up of pure gold and at least one white metal: usually nickel, silver, or palladium. Like yellow gold, the purity of white gold is given in karats.
White gold's properties vary depending on the different metals used and their proportions. As a result, white gold alloys can be used for many different purposes. While a nickel alloy is hard and strong, and, therefore, good for rings and pins, gold–palladium alloys are soft, malleable, and good for white gold gemstone settings, sometimes with other metals, like copper, silver, and platinum, that are added for weight and durability. The term white gold is used in jewelry to describe gold alloys with a whitish hue.
A common white gold formulation consists of 90% gold and 10% nickel. However, as some people are allergic to nickel, rhodium, which is similar to platinum, has gained popularity in making white gold.
Is white gold real gold?
White gold is definitely real gold. Pure gold, at 24 karats, is too soft to be used for day-to-day jewelry and often tarnishes or gets scratched. Mixing gold with other metals, such as silver, copper, or zinc, strengthens the gold piece, making it more durable. This also has the added advantage of giving the gold a different color. Gold alloyed with copper, for example, gives gold a reddish hue and is known in jewelry as “rose gold” or “pink gold.”
However, whilst these pieces are not pure gold, they are most definitely real gold. It is possible to check whether gold is real gold by checking the hallmark, or stamp, on a piece.
Is white gold worth more than yellow gold?
A common query when looking at gold is whether the different colored golds available are more expensive, or cheaper than yellow gold. There are a few different factors that affect the value of a piece of jewelry. However, the color is not one of them.
The value of gold is determined by its karat number. Pure gold is 24 karats but, as mentioned above, it is too soft to be used for normal jewelry. It is the most valuable gold however, as it is gold in its purest form. As the gold content of a piece gets lower, as more metals are mixed with the gold, the value will get lower. This means that jewelry of 18 karat will be cheaper than 22 karat, and 14 karat will be cheaper than 18 karat.
Because white gold comes in the same number of karats as yellow gold, it is theoretically the same price. It is possible, however, that due to its popularity in jewelry, you may find certain jewellers charge more for a white gold piece than yellow gold.
Can white gold tarnish or turn yellow?
Gold is one of the least reactive chemical elements. Gold alone or pure gold does not combine easily with oxygen so it stays shiny, it does not rust or tarnish.
However, because pure gold is almost never used in jewelry, the other metals mixed with gold, such as copper or nickel, do react to oxygen, sulfur and moisture over time and can tarnish or lose color. This what can cause gold jewelry to tarnish.
Over time, the coatings on white gold can also become worn, revealing the yellow gold color underneath.
This is a completely normal process. Eventually, all white gold jewellery begins to show yellow gold colour. How quickly this happens depends on many factors such as how the jewelry reacts with your skin, what chemicals the jewellery comes into contact with and environmental factors, like how much pollution there is in your area.
All of these factors can influence how quickly the yellow gold begins to show through. The most common treatment for restoring yellowing white gold is to restore the plating. Take it to a jeweler and they will be able to replate it with whatever metal is may be plated with, usually either rhodium or zinc.
If you want to keep your gold jewelry looking its best for a long time there are some tips to keep it looking good. Make sure to remove your jewelry even when you are just washing your hands. Chemicals can leave your white gold jewelry with a dull finish over time and eventually, it becomes harder to clean white gold when residue has already built up. You should also store your jewelry properly, such as in a pouch when it is not being worn, separate from other pieces, or in compartments to avoid them from scratching each other. You may add a packet of silica gel inside a jewelry box so it absorbs any moisture.