Gold has been used in jewelry for a long time. Given its value and ease of processing, people have used gold in rings and necklaces for thousands of years.
And it is not surprising that people started to place gems and valuable stones into their gold jewelry to enhance its value and awe.
Today, we do the same things. People often use materials such as gold, platinum, and silver as a base for their jewelry pieces, adding diamonds and other gems.
This article is focused on explaining white gold. How was it created and why? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
Without any further ado, let’s jump right into this subject, White gold: everything you need to know, read about it in the text below!
What Is White Gold
White gold quickly became a very popular material for jewelry. Jewelers often choose to make delicate, intricate pieces because when mixed with some metals, it becomes very malleable.
In some forms, white gold is extremely strong and durable. That makes it the perfect choice for an item that takes heavy wear, like a ring.
But what is white gold? And how is it made?
White gold is not a metal. It is an alloy of regular gold. This means that it is purposefully made up when pure yellow gold is combined with other metals, like palladium, silver, or platinum.
Alloy metals are used in combination with gold for two reasons. First of all, it is a process that gives the withe gold its color. The second reason is that alloy metals give it a rigid shape.
As said before, white gold is made from a base of pure yellow gold by adding small amounts of silver-colored materials. That is what makes it white.
But that process is not just significant for the looks of the white gold. Adding alloys also makes the gold more durable. All pieces of gold jewelry have some alloys added to them.
Rose, yellow, and white gold, just have different alloys that contribute to the diversity of their respectable looks.
Besides the alloys that are added to the material itself, white gold jewelry is more often than not coated with the precious metal known as rhodium.
Rhodium, similar to platinum, has a further lustrous surface when sheen to the jewelry and protects it from scratches.
The important thing to know is that the rhodium coating on the white gold jewels, with time, starts to fade, revealing the yellow gold color underneath.
There are a lot of factors that determine when it will happen, like the pH levels of your skin, how often you wear your jewelry, and what toiletries or chemicals it comes in contact with.
When rhodium coating starts to show wear, it is easily solved. The only thing you need to do is to take your jewelry to be re-coated. This process is not expensive, and you can choose how often you want to do it.
Now, contrary to some myths, white gold is real gold. It contains alloys, but the base for the material is pure yellow gold. You can verify this by looking at your jewelry’s hallmark.
The gold content of all gold jewelry, white, yellow, or rose gold, is measured in “karats”. Karat represents the value that tells us how much pure gold is used when the material is made.
For example, different jewelry pieces can be marked as 9K or 18K gold. 9K pieces are made of material that is 37.5% pure gold. 18K pieces are made of material that is 75% pure gold.
Of course, higher karats mean higher prices, we will talk about that in more detail later in the article.
Short History Of White Gold
We know that people used gold for thousands of years, but in those times, we had no knowledge or skills necessary to add other alloys to the base materials.
Gold was used in its base, natural form.
The origin of the white gold dates back to 1710, when it was discovered by two alchemists in Germany. But, it wasn’t used widely until much later, around the 1920s.
Even though it might seem strange, white gold became popular during the time of war because of the popularity, scarcity, and utility of platinum.
Platinum was used for a long time as the main material for making rings, bracelets, and pendants. But because of the high price of that material, it was reserved for the richest members of society.
However, many countries started to utilize platinum in the military industry during World War II because of its durability. The majority of batteries and weapons produced at that time had at least parts of them made of platinum.
That leads to widespread banns on platinum use, especially in the jewelry industry, due to its necessity in military applications.
Those bans left the jewelers around the world with a void they needed to fill. They tried to create a metal that resembled platinum, which was in great demand.
That caused them to start creating alternatives, and one of them stood the test of time, white gold.
Even though, after the war, some people went back to using platinum, many of them realized the potential of white gold.
What started as a substitute grew to become one of the most popular materials used by jewelers worldwide.
Related Read: Platinum Vs. White Gold: Which One Is Better?
How Is White Gold Used Today
Today, white gold is one of the most popular options for rings, bracelets, and necklaces. Outside the jewelry industry, white gold is of almost no use.
White gold is paired with a wide variety of other materials and gemstones, but the most common combination is certainly with diamonds.
As you can assume, colorless diamonds will appear perfectly white in a white gold setting. That means that white gold is best used when paired with colorless or near colorless diamonds.
Diamonds that are graded D-J on the color grading system.
If you would like to know more about the diamond color grading system, we suggest you check out this article: Diamond Color Chart: Diamond Color-grading Scale.
Keep in mind that different diamond shapes might show more or less color. The popular round diamond shape shows the least color, which makes it a good choice for lower color-graded diamonds.
However, in the other diamond shapes, the color can concentrate on the ends or corners, which makes low-color diamonds unattractive.
You should be wise to consider the cut of a diamond that you want to set in the white gold ring. Princess, Emerald, and Asscher cuts of diamonds don’t show much color.
White gold is considered the most popular choice for wedding and engagement rings. Round and oval cut diamonds pair extremely well with white gold settings, especially when the diamond is high-graded on the color scale.
Speaking of different combinations, let’s explore different diamond cuts and how they pair with a white gold setting!
The emerald cut is one of the oldest diamond cuts. Its origin dates as far back as the 15th century. It was invented by the stonecutters for application in processing emerald gemstones, but it was quickly noticed by the diamond cutters, and they started applying this technique.
The emerald cut is the evergreen choice, despite being present for over 500 years, it still holds a notable spot among the engagement rings due to some of the most famous women choosing this style, including Grace Kelly and Jacqueline Kennedy.
The emerald cut is considered a “fancy shape” diamond and can greatly vary from a brilliant cut. The thing to keep in mind when considering the emerald cut is that it demands a diamond with a very high clarity score.
White gold pairs well with emerald cut diamonds because of the exceptional sheen that amplifies the staircase effect of the diamond. White gold is a metal that is considered “calm,” and it brings out the aristocratic vibe.
Emerald cut diamonds paired with white gold are a favored choice for people who wear avant-garde jewelry and minimalistic outfits.
The Asscher cut was invented in 1902 and gained popularity during the 1920s. It was created by the Asscher brothers, a couple of jewelers from the Netherlands. It has recently surged in popularity during the early 2000s due to its vintage look and heritage.
Asscher cuts look similar to emerald cuts, but the most obvious difference is that they are square instead of rectangular in shape. This cut features large step facets and a high crown that produces brilliance unique to this cut.
Although the Asscher cut is often regarded as a square shape, actually, it’s octagonal since all four corners are cropped. However, these subtle cropped corners can’t be noticed once the diamond is mounted into the four-prong setting.
Asscher cut diamonds are often paired with white gold because of the popular setting choice – the solitaire. The solitaire setting is well paired with pale, subtle metals, the most used one is white gold.
Another great option for this cut is a halo setting, and that style also fits perfectly with white gold, allowing the metal to reinforce the sparkling nature of the setting.
The princess cut, also called square modified brilliant, is a diamond cut shape most often used in diamond rings. Origins of the name date back to the 1980s, when this cut was created by Betazel Ambar, Ygal Perlman, and Israel Itzkowitz.
This cut features a square or rectangular shape, and the profile is similar to that of an inverted pyramid. It is considered a classy feminine design, the main downside being the fact that they are prone to damage due to the sharp points of the diamond.
Because it is one of the most used cuts for engagement rings, it is not surprising that the princess cut is often paired with white gold.
Usually, the popular choice is a halo setting, combined with the eternity band, or a contoured band made of white gold. White gold enhances the sparkling effect that the princess cut provides while also giving a ring a classy, calmer feel.
Round Brilliant Cut
The round brilliant cut is one of the oldest and the most recognizable diamond cuts. It originated in Belgium in the 15th century and was improved constantly throughout history until it finally reached its modern form in the early 20th century.
In 1919, a Belgian gemologist and mathematician, Marcel Tolkowsky developed a formula for cutting and angling facets on diamonds to provide a maximum reflection of the light, giving them the optimum brilliance.
The round brilliant cut gives you many optimal options when choosing a setting for it. Usually, it comes in a classic six-prong solitaire setting, but the most optimal one is a halo setting. Paired with a white gold ring, the halo setting serves to enhance the stone’s natural beauty and provides the most scintillation.
Another popular option for this 57 facet cut is a pavé setting that covers the areas of the ring band in a large number of tiny diamonds. This gives especially good results when paired with white gold bands that give a whole ring the sparkling effect many are looking for.
If we managed to pique your interest, let’s explain some of the most important things about buying and maintaining white gold jewelry.
Quick Buying Guide For White Gold
We now know how popular white gold is, and knowing that it is no surprise that white gold jewelry is available in many different styles.
An important thing to take note of when buying white gold is that there are two types of white gold, standard and antique.
Standard white gold is, as we said before, an alloy that contains pure gold and some other metals, usually palladium and platinum, that give the alloy its resistance and durability. It has no silver content.
Antique white gold is a combination of pure gold and silver, it is known for its high glossiness.
When selecting a perfect white gold diamond ring, you would be wise to consider the size of the stone, the shape of the stone, the setting, and the purity of gold that you want.
These options can greatly affect the price, and the availability of the ring that you decide is the perfect one for you.
Keep in mind that the biggest determinant of the price of the band is the purity of gold. The higher you go with the purity, the more expensive it will be.
Usually, the jewelers offer 18k white gold, which contains 75% gold, combined with palladium or platinum. But there are options as low as 9k white gold that are 32.5% gold, with the rest being silver, nickel, or a combination of the two.
Keep in mind that if your ring contains more gold, for example, 18k, it will present some yellow note in its color, making your white gold less ‘white’. Naturally, if you go lower on purity, the more bright and white the metal will appear to be.
The current price of white gold in the United States is $54 per gram for 24k gold, $40 per gram for 18k gold, and $32 per gram for 14k gold.
Naturally, when buying a piece of jewelry, you must account for the craftsmanship of the piece, not just its weight, but these numbers can help you get a rough estimate if you are planning to treat yourself or someone else with an adornment.
Pros And Cons Of Buying White Gold Jewelry
There are certainly some pros but also some cons when it comes to buying white gold. It shouldn’t seem surprising, but even though the biggest determinant of choice is your personal taste, we have prepared some facts that can help you make the last step in this decision.
Let’s Start With Some Good Things That White Gold Is Known For
White gold is by far the most popular choice when it comes to wedding and engagement rings. It has a classy and timeless feel and provides the most amplification of sparkle for your diamonds.
It’s important to point out that white gold is neutral in its color and can be matched with any diamond and, more importantly, any outfit you choose.
Many people take the option of white gold simply because of its price. It is more affordable than platinum, and it provides similar benefits. White gold is much more common than its counterparts.
Because of its availability due to high mining efforts, white gold is available in a wider range of options than any other metal used for wedding and engagement rings. With white gold, you are very unlikely to be confined in your choices.
White gold is much more durable than its yellow and rose counterparts. It is created by adding metals like silver, palladium, or nickel, and they give white gold advantages in durability and resistance.
Now, as much as everyone loves white gold, there are certainly some things to remember as to why this might not be a good option for you.
Let’s Explore Some Downsides Of White Gold
The biggest factor surely is the fact that white gold is not hypoallergenic. Let us explain. Because some other metals are added to white gold, giving it some benefits, they can also sometimes cause allergic reactions.
If you have an allergic sensitivity to nickel or zinc, the white gold jewelry can cause skin irritations or trigger other allergic responses if worn for long periods of time.
If you know that you have some metal-based allergies, it would be wise to consider going with platinum instead of gold because platinum is a hypoallergenic metal.
Another downside of white gold is also connected to its origin because the white gold is naturally yellow, and then combined with other metals that provide color, over time, the natural yellow color will resurface.
If you wear your wedding band all of the time, your white ring may not be white in a year or two.
In order to keep the white color that your band had the first day, you will need to have it rhodium plated when it starts fading to yellow.
Rhodium plating is usually done once or twice per year, depending on the amount of time you wear it, and some other chemical factors, including the pH values of your skin.
Even though it might not be a deal breaker for you, knowing that rhodium plating is not particularly expensive, it is certainly something to have in mind when buying white gold jewelry.
Lastly, we need to clarify that the most important thing is, of course, your preference and taste.
How To Take Care Of Your White Gold Jewelry
After discussing some pros and cons of buying white gold, if you decide to go for it, let us give you some tips on maintenance so your wedding ring keeps the shine it had on the first day throughout the decades you will wear it.
The most important thing to have in mind is that you are not only working to preserve the white gold your ring or bracelet is made of, but you also want to take the steps of preserving the rhodium plating on it.
Cleaning the white gold jewelry is pretty much a straightforward process:
- Prepare a cleaning solution by mixing mild soap and warm water. Note that detergents that contain chlorine or other harsh chemicals are not recommended because they can damage the jewelry.
- Soak your white gold jewelry in the solution for 20-30 minutes. Take note that if you leave it for too long, you risk damaging it.
- Gently rub it with a soft cloth to remove any dirt. It is advisable not to use rough cloth or brushes because they can leave tiny scratches on your precious piece.
- Rinse the jewelry with water. It is important to rinse it in lukewarm water in order to remove any soap residue that can cause damage in long-term exposure.
- Dry the jewelry with a clean towel.
For example, if you have an engagement ring made of white gold but also contains diamonds or other durable gemstones, you can use the cleaning method described above.
If, on the other hand, your jewelry contains less durable gemstones, like pearls or onyx stones, it should not be submerged in the cleaning solution.
Just dip the soft cloth in the cleaning solution and gently rub the metal parts, clearing off any dirt, and afterward, you can clean the gemstones by wiping them carefully with a dry cloth.
Some general tips that can help you maintain your white gold jewelry are simply to not wear it while in certain situations:
- When doing housework
- When expecting to be in contact with chlorine-based detergents and cleaning agents
- When working with dangerous chemicals, including bleach or hydrogen peroxide
- While taking a shower or swimming in pools
- When you are working with power tools
If unfortunately, your white gold jewelry gets scratched or damaged, you can always take it to a jeweler and have the scratches polished out. However, keep in mind that every time the ring is polished, the rhodium plating takes a hit.
If you polish your white gold jewelry too often, the rhodium plating will wear off faster.
Having the ring or a bracelet repolished with rhodium is something that you will have to do once or twice a year, but keep in mind, even if it’s not expensive, if done too often, it can add up to a large sum.
It is advisable to take care of your jewelry, following the steps and measures described above, to make sure it will last you a lifetime!
After reading this article, we hope you feel more informed about white gold. This is only the beginning of an exploration of the important topics surrounding this popular metal.
To summarize, white gold is a product of combining natural, yellow gold with metals like zinc, palladium, or silver, in order to give it more durability, and its famous white color.
White gold comes in a wide range of purities, from 9k (the lowest) to 24k (the highest).
White gold is a great option for wedding and engagement rings, because of its durability compared to yellow and rose gold, and also because it amplifies the shine and sparkle of many diamond cuts.
This concludes our journey of White gold: everything you need to know, and we encourage you to read and learn more about topics like these. We hope that you are one step closer to choosing a perfect piece of jewelry that fits your needs and preferences.