What is white gold made of? You may ask. First, let me tell you a very brief story of white gold. As you know. Platinum was a widely used metal for jewelry before the second world war. However, after the war, platinum was hoarded by the government in power who planned to use it to build their cities and facilitate them.
To satisfy the demand for the much-loved platinum, a new metal that matched its hue was invented. This metal is today popularly known as white gold but have you ever stopped to ask yourself exactly what white gold is made of?
The shimmery silver hue of white gold draws in the eye and you could be forgiven for assuming that you were looking at a piece of silver or platinum.
This metal has become widely famous and popular among all races and cultures of the world. Gems that rest on white gold such as white diamonds always shine a little brighter than the yellow gold versions.
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What is White Gold Made of?
A mixture of zinc, nickel, silver, or palladium added to a pure measure of gold of 9, 10, 14, 18, or 21 parts which is as much gold as can be found in a white gold piece in order to achieve the silver hue.
Zinc and nickel have long been used to make white gold and they are a more readily available and affordable metal alloy blend. Nickel has long been identified as an irritant to sensitive skin.
Silver and palladium have just much more recently been blended with gold as a more durable and expensive alternative to creating white gold metals. Not only are they stronger than zinc or nickel but they possess hypoallergenic qualities which makes them safe for all skin types to wear.
No piece of white gold jewelry would be complete without a coating of rhodium which gives it that shiny silver hue.
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Why is it Mixed with Alloy Metals?
Gold in its purest form is soft and very flexible. It bends and dents easily. Alloying it with metals such as zinc, nickel silver, and palladium seek to strengthen the metal and help it maintain shape better.
Palladium is from the platinum family and this means it is harder than other metals in the alloy department. It is also great for its hypoallergenic qualities which means it is wearable for all skin types. Pure gold is also hypoallergenic and this makes jewelry made of this mix a little more expensive and durable.
Nickel and palladium are primary bleachers in the metal alloy and are used to strip the gold off its yellow streaks. Zinc is then added to perfect the bleaching job as a secondary agent. Copper is sometimes added to make the gold more malleable and workable. Alloying it with too much zinc will make it rigid and it will be hard to manipulate.
Palladium, on the other hand, makes the alloy heavy and dense making its setting that much harder to do and because of this heavier mass, palladium white gold is priced at a higher value.
The rhodium plating that keeps a protective barrier between the wearer’s skin and the base metals also gives the metal alloy the silver sheen. The alloy in its natural state has strains of the yellow color of gold. To create a nice silver sheen, rhodium plating is coated.
Unfortunately, with regular wear, depending on the hair or body products that come in contact with your white gold and considering the atmospheric conditions of your location, the rhodium plating wears off.
You will know it is starting to wear off when you notice some yellowing or color change. That is the time to get it to the jeweler’s shop to get a new coating on it. Here is a post you should check: how often does white gold to be rhodium plated?
What is 18k White Gold Made of?
18k gold means that there is 75% pure gold in the metal alloy which equates to 18 parts of real gold. So, 18k gold is made of a mixture of 18 parts of real gold (full is 24 Parts)and the rest of the metal are either zinc, palladium, nickel, or silver together or two or three of each.
18k is said to be more hypoallergenic because of its higher percentage of pure gold metal. So, even a piece made with nickel will be less likely to react to skin. Of course, to top it off is the rhodium plating that gives it the clear silver hue that dazzles the eyes and adds to the protection.
However, 18k pieces are more delicate than 14k or 10k white gold pieces. This is because there is more content of other metals in these other grades as compared to more gold in 18k.
This added gold content gives white gold a leg up over the other types of gold. This is especially evident in the jewelry industry reports that have been recording high numbers of sales in the bridal rings department.
White gold has been identified as an ideal setting for your gems. Especially for sparkling white gems like diamonds and their simulated versions, white gold’s silver reflective sheen bounces light beautifully off crystals creating a brighter more brilliant sparkle.
In the creation of imitation jewelry pieces from platinum and diamond designs, engagement rings and wedding bands have been revolutionized and made even more affordable with the introduction of these alloy metals and fake crystal gems that shine almost as brilliantly as real diamonds.
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What is the Difference Between 10k, 14k, and 18k Gold?
You may find jewelry listed and labeled and priced differently yet they all look the same. This is due to some very minimal but very significant alterations in the metal composition.
Karats or the K symbol associated with gold metals refers to the measure of real gold available in a metal piece.
10k means that there are 10 parts of real gold in this metal alloy and the rest of the 14 parts are made up alloy metals like copper, zinc, palladium. This translates to about 41.7% of gold. It is a harder alloy than the rest because it has more alloyed metals parts than gold parts.
14k white gold is at 58.3% or 14 parts of pure gold. It’s the gold alloy with almost a perfect balance with only 10 parts of metal alloys. This is the most popular white gold grade and it is the sweet spot for people with sensitive skin and also those who like more gold but at affordable prices.
18k gold contains the most measure of pure gold other than 22k or 24k gold obviously. 18 parts of real gold translate to 75% pure gold in this metal alloy. After 14k white gold, this is the next most popular white gold metal alloy. It contains more gold than alloy and this makes it more vulnerable to dents and damage but not so much if it alloyed with palladium or platinum.
With this slight difference in metal composition, the price of the final white gold metal will differ based on the measures of real gold in it. It goes without saying, then, that 18k white gold is way more expensive than 10k gold as is 14k gold.
Many opt for the 10k white gold pieces because they are hardier and more affordable than all the rest. However, they may pose a skin issue for those with sensitive skin.
Alloying with palladium, silver, or platinum instead of zinc and nickel also considerably raises the price value of a white gold piece. Not forgetting the rhodium plating that will need a fresh coat every now and again based on your unique experience.
White Gold Pros and Cons
- White gold is always fashionable
- It works easily and takes and keeps shape perfectly
- It is an affordable and readily available metal
- White gold imitates the platinum or silver color that is so loved by many.
- It is the perfect metal to buy because it is stronger than silver and less expensive than platinum.
- The white gold looks great against gems and it looks good with all outfits and for all events and genders.
- Very popular right now for engagement rings and wedding bands
- If anything happens to your white gold jewelry or if your fingers get a little chubby or thinner, it is easy to have it repaired or resized.
- White gold achieves its silver hue because of the rhodium plating on it. This plating wears off and you will need to regularly get it redone to maintain the shiny gloss.
- Regularly getting your metal polished is expensive and adds to the costs of maintaining your jewelry which is not good.
Having all this information on white gold, you may now wisely decide what works for you and which grade of the white gold will do for you.
What is important for you to do at the purchase, is to check for the gold marking on the jewelry and to ask for metal composition. Especially if you are sensitive to metals, aim to get information of all the metals used in alloying.
Doing this will save you lots of trouble later which is not acceptable considering how much you already spent.
Tiger is a fashion&jewelry lover. He is also a fashion jewelry manufacturer that help thousands of small business to grow and also do business with some big fashion jewelry brands. He is a truly metal expert and he will share some information you are looking for.