The Best Guide to Understanding White Gold Metal

These days, a trip to your local jewelry store will yield a lot of metal options. Depending on the store, you can find platinum, gold, and even silver jewelry. One of the most popular items these days is white gold jewelry. In particular, if you go to the wedding section, there will be a huge variety of white gold engagement rings and white gold wedding bands. Typically, there are far fewer options available in yellow or rose gold. But what is white gold, anyway?

White gold is an alloy of real gold that has white-colored metals in it. Typically, these metals will include nickel, zinc, and silver. Higher-quality and more expensive white gold will use a member of the platinum family for its mixture rather than nickel.

The History of White Gold

Before the end of the 19th century, white gold was unknown. Then, during the late Victorian period, metallurgists discovered that if you mix white metals with pure gold, you can make it look whiter. While this new alloy did not immediately result in people rushing to buy a white gold necklace, it was introduced just before World War I as an alternative to platinum.

Throughout the next few decades, white gold continued to be used as a jewelry metal. However, it wasn’t until World War II that everyone started buying white gold wedding bands and other jewelry. That’s because the war made platinum almost impossible to buy. On the other hand, a jeweler could take some yellow gold and recycle it by adding white metals. The final product will look a lot like platinum.

White Gold Properties and Composition

As we already mentioned, white gold is a combination of elemental gold alloyed with white metals. These white metals lend their color to the alloy. However, when you buy jewelry, you will see multiple options, even within gold color. This is a number followed by the letter K. The K stands for Karat, and it indicates the purity of the gold.

At With Clarity, we offer 14 K and 18 K gold options. 14 K gold is 58.3% gold, while 18 K gold is 75% pure. The remaining percentage of the gold by weight is the alloy metals, which vary based on the desired color of gold.

There are many reasons to love white gold and a few reasons to reconsider. White gold is most famous for its white color that rivals platinum and its resistance to tarnishing. Similarly, white gold is more scratch resistant than pure gold and also rarely gets distorted. Likewise, one reason that white gold engagement rings and white gold wedding rings are so popular is their color. If you have a fine-quality diamond in a very white shade, then white gold and platinum showcase this much better than the alternatives. Similarly, the color is very complementary on people with fair skin.

On the other hand, white gold isn’t for everyone. The biggest disadvantage of white gold is that the medical-containing versions are unsafe for sensitive skin. A lot of people have allergies to nickel metal, and they should skip the white gold hoop earrings. We wouldn’t recommend any other jewelry with white gold, either. The exception would be if you can get someone to use nickel-free alloy, such as for a white gold engagement ring.

The other drawback to white gold is that it requires a bit more maintenance than yellow or rose metal. That’s because most white gold is plated with palladium, a white metal in the platinum family. Jewelers do this because white gold metal looks much whiter afterward. If you buy a flight gold necklace or other jewelry, you’ll need to get it re-plated by a jeweler periodically.

White Gold Popularity and Care

These days, white gold is very popular. In fact, some consumers don’t even know about platinum, and it’s not sold in every jewelry store. This is unsurprising when you consider that white gold is less expensive. Another reason why flight gold is so popular is its ability to showcase high-quality white diamonds, sapphires, aquamarines, and other cool-toned gems. Of course, you can make almost any piece of jewelry with white gold due to its durability and attractiveness.

Although heavily-used white gold jewelry will ultimately require replating, there are some ways you can prolong the life of your finish. One way is to reduce its exposure to chemicals in the home, which can eat away at the palladium plating. Otherwise, you can clean white gold jewelry similarly to other pieces, using soapy water and a soft brush.

Storage can also influence the life of your white gold jewelry. You should always store jewelry in a way that will prevent scratching from other items, such as by using a velvet-lined jewelry box or keeping everything in the original jeweler’s packaging.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the decision to buy white gold jewelry, as opposed to something fashioned from other shades of gold, platinum, or silver, comes down to personal preference. Additionally, you should always consider your budget and how often you wear the piece of jewelry. For example, platinum costs more than white gold, but it has fewer maintenance considerations. On the other hand, silver is a very inexpensive alternative that is also hypoallergenic.

At With Clarity, our advice is simple — choose something that you love within your price range. For engagement rings, we also suggest that you consider the properties of the center diamond you’ve chosen. Some stones will look better in white gold, while others might shine best in yellow or rose gold. Our gemologists can help you make the best match.


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