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What is White Gold?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Created by combining gold with at least one other white metal, white gold is an alloy that is considered to be both attractive and durable. Its qualities make the substance ideal for a number of uses, especially in the creation of jewelry for both men and women. Here is some background on the creation of various grades, as well as a couple of examples of how it is used.

Just as with gold or silver, karats is the means of accurately measuring or grading a particular gold alloy that will be sold as white gold. The determination of the number of karats has a lot to do with what type of white metal is used in the mix. For example, white gold that contains measured amounts of silver or palladium will classify with a higher amount of carats. The presence in nickel helps to give the material durability but can also lead to a slightly lower designation of karats.

Perhaps the most popular application for white gold is in the use of jewelry items. This jewelry includes such items as earrings, necklaces, ankle bracelets, and rings. More recently, white gold has also been used for nose and belly button rings, as well as in the creation of other interesting pins that are sometimes used as ornamentation with cheek or brow piercing.

The exact properties of white gold will vary, depending on the metals that are included in the mix. When it is composed of a gold and palladium mixture, it will tend to be somewhat more pliable, which is ideal for creating settings for stones. The presence of some nickel adds strength that is desirable for the creation of rings and other jewelry that is expected to wear gracefully over long periods of time. In just about all cases, items that are created with white gold are usually treated with a layer of rhodium, which acts as a sealant. The rhodium also helps to protect the finish from scratching and other forms of wear.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including About Mechanics, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon307910 — On Dec 07, 2012

Can white gold be 'changed' back to yellow gold?

By anon219872 — On Oct 04, 2011

Well, I have a 14K. high palladium white gold rope chain, and had it for over eight years and it still shines like platinum without the need of rhodium plating. I've been wearing my white gold chain quite a bit and I love it. There is such a thing as high grade white gold (grade: 1) and my chain is made of it. Plus also having possible pure palladium solder.

By anon161089 — On Mar 18, 2011

I have a wedding ring and engagement ring in white gold and would like to get them remodeled but have been told that it can't be done. can anyone tell me different. tcsd

By anon135888 — On Dec 20, 2010

Forgot to mention that rhodium coating may deteriorate within 12 to 18 months and the jewelry may need to be re-coated! Make sure you ask in case the jeweler forgets to tell you.

By anon113669 — On Sep 25, 2010

Silver jewelery does not tarnish but changes its color because of the acidity of the person's skin.

By ProudMom2 — On Aug 19, 2010

Is it possible to have a 14 karat gold wedding ring dipped into white gold? I prefer to wear silver jewelry, but silver tarnishes over time and it is not very appropriate for a wedding set. My husband is very traditional and picked out gold rings for our wedding date despite my pleas.

I don’t want to get another ring because it is very dear to my heart, but my ring never matches the rest of my jewelry. Does anyone have suggestions or information to share?

By Babalaas — On Aug 16, 2010

This spring I bought my fiancée a white gold engagement ring. It was the wrong size, so i had to have the ring re-sized. Until I had it re-sized, I had no idea it was coated with iridium. The iridium is what gives white gold its lustrous white shine. The jeweler let me see what untreated 18 karat white gold looked like, and I was surprised to find it was actually a slight shade of yellow. Just an interesting bit of information this article made me want to share.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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