Do you know how white gold actually looks like without the rhodium plating? Is it really white, shiny, and lustrous? Is white gold as white as you’ve been made to believe?
Well, this article answers some of these questions, and if you are wondering what white gold actually looks like, this informative article is here for you.
What does raw white gold look like (Without rhodium)?
Without the rhodium plating, white gold looks nothing like the finished product. Essentially, white gold is more of the ‘white-washed version of pure bright yellow/orange-gold, and regardless of the percentage of white metals alloyed to pure gold, the resultant gold alloy is nothing far from white, lustrous, and shiny – it has more of a yellowish hue/ tinge, and this is what you’d see if you scratched off a small part of the rhodium or after parts of the rhodium plating start to wear out. The raw ‘white’ gold is slightly comparable to yellow gold, especially the 18k white gold because it has 75% pure gold like yellow gold, and it’s mixed with the white-toned metal alloys like silver, zinc, copper, or palladium – 18K yellow gold is mixed with 25% silver, meaning it’s quite yellow.
14K or 18K white gold often has a mix of nickel, copper, zinc, or palladium, but the higher content of pure gold means that white gold always retains a yellow hue. Therefore, without the rhodium plating, white gold isn’t really white, but off-white gold.
Compared to one of the precious white metals like platinum, for example, white gold is comparably yellow. Without the plating, there is a big difference in color between the two metals. With rhodium plating, white gold and platinum look a lot alike to the naked eye – rhodium used to coat and strengthen the off-white gold belongs to the same group of metals like platinum, which is why the color differences between the two are hardly noticeable. Note that while white gold will have to be re-polished then replated after a few years, platinum doesn’t need any plating, and it develops a patina that some people find to be attractive.
Generally, raw white gold will always have a yellow cast, though it looks more white than yellow.
What does 10k white gold look like?
10k white gold is made of 41.7% pure fold and 58.3% other white-toned metal alloys like zinc, nickel, copper, palladium, and/or silver. Thanks to the high composition of metal alloys, 10k white gold looks more white than yellow, and it’s the least colored version of white gold. However, the high percentage of metal alloys is the reason why 10k white gold is more durable than 14k white gold. 10K white fold is, therefore, more comparable to 925 sterling silver.
What does 14k white gold look like?
With 58.3% pure gold and 41.7% white-toned metal alloys like zinc, nickel, palladium, or silver, 14k gold takes on more of the yellow hue of gold because of the higher percentage of gold compared to the white-toned metals. Even so, 14k raw white gold is more white than it’s yellow. It’s also less durable than 10k white gold.
What does 18k white gold look like?
Thanks to the high content of pure gold at 75% used in the creation of 18k white gold, and the use of only 25% white-toned metal alloys like palladium, silver, and nickel, raw 18k white gold takes on more of a yellow tinge, and it not as ‘white’ as 10k or 14k raw white gold.
Note, however, that despite these differences in color of the raw version of white gold and the fact that all forms of white gold are actually off white in pure form, all versions of the white gold will have a nice lustrous finish because they are coated in rhodium, which is a lustrous white metal with a nice sheen – this is what makes white gold jewelry white. The rhodium plating also enhances the strength, durability, and scratch-resistance of the white gold under the rhodium.
What does white gold look like when it fades?
White gold will fade over time as the layer of rhodium wears out, and when or as this happens, the (off) white gold underneath is exposed, which means that in most cases, tarnished white gold with parts of the rhodium flaking off will take off a slightly yellow look – albeit a spotty one. In extreme cases, the exposed layer of raw white gold might react with components in the air, for example, hydrogen sulfide or copper, resulting in a green or a black layer of the tarnish of the gold – this results from the reaction of silver or copper.
So, once the natural off-white color of white gold in its raw form peeks through, you should take the white gold ring to the jewelers, where a new coat of rhodium will be applied to retain the nice lustrous sheen of white gold.
What does old white gold look like?
Old white gold will have a worn-out layer of rhodium, which means that it will look spotty and yellowish, with black or green specks, and dark gray spots too.
But if it’s well cared for, then the old white gold will look only slightly dull since it loses that sheen from rhodium over time.
White gold is not really white, and it’s safe to say that there’s actually no gold that is white. Raw gold is off white thanks to the presence of pure gold, which is quite bright, and that yellow color of gold cannot be bleached out completely. Mixing it with other white-toned metal alloys only tones down the color of gold, but it doesn’t take it away completely. So, raw white gold is only off-white, and the rhodium coating is what gives it that lustrous white finish.