White gold is a popular choice for people who are looking for a slightly exotic but timeless look in their jewelry. If you are thinking about purchasing a white gold engagement ring or jewelry, here is what you need to know about this beautiful precious metal alloy.
What is white gold?
Although white gold is colored more like a diamond than like gold, it is actually yellow gold mixed with other metals. When yellow gold is properly mixed, the alloy becomes more durable and turns white.
How is white gold made?
The metals that are mixed with yellow gold to create white gold may include silver, zinc, copper, palladium and nickel.
White gold can be shaded differently depending on the metal that is used to create the white alloy. The proportion that is added to the yellow gold also affects the final look of the metal. Some white gold pieces actually have a yellow tint to them; however, they are called white gold because of the mix.
As a matter of fact, most white gold alloys will end up looking yellowish. In order to finalize a truly “white” look, many white gold pieces will come with a slight rhodium plating. It is the rhodium finish that gives white gold the famous look that is considered the standard for the alloy. Rhodium also adds a bit of durability to the alloy, giving white gold jewelry longevity that many yellow gold pieces do not naturally have.
How affordable is white gold?
The durability of the white gold alloy is considered valuable, making white gold more expensive than yellow gold in comparable situations. The metals that are used to create the alloy are also considered valuable, adding to the quality of the metal.
The rhodium that supplies the white coat for most white gold pieces is actually quite expensive. Expect to pay more if your white gold piece includes a rhodium coat.
White gold is less durable than platinum, and is less expensive than platinum. White gold was actually created as a less expensive substitute for platinum because the two alloys share the same look. However, white gold may require a replate after a few polish sessions, while platinum will not.
What kind of maintenance does white gold require?
White gold does require a bit more maintenance than yellow gold in order to maintain its color. The mix of metals that create the white gold alloy all require cleaning, and the rhodium plating must also be preserved. Although deep cleanings should be performed by a professional, there are some DIY methods that can be used to keep white gold engagement rings and jewelry looking good for day to day wear.
Soaking a white gold piece in a mixture of mild soap and warm water for 20-30 minutes when it is dirty will prime it for cleaning. After soaking it, rub your jewelry with a soft cloth to take off the dirt. You can then rinse with lukewarm water to get rid of the extra soap. Dry it with a clean towel.
If you are cleaning an especially dirty piece of white gold jewelry, add a few drops of ammonia to your mixture. Do not overdo this, however. Also, make sure that you do not soak your jewelry in anything that is considered abrasive. When you are rubbing your jewelry, do not create unnecessary friction. This may wear down your rhodium coating more quickly than it should wear, and harsh rubbing will definitely show on the surface of your jewelry.
There are also special jewelry cleaners that are made specifically to clean white gold. These cleaners can be found through a simple Google search.
How durable is white gold?
As stated above, white gold is more durable than yellow gold, but not quite as durable as platinum. The higher the karat, the less durable the gold. Gold becomes softer as its purity improves, and this includes the white gold alloy. Platinum is denser than gold, even alloyed white gold, which gives it a natural durability that is superior to white gold as well.
Although white gold may not be as dense or as hard as platinum or diamond, it is a very durable alloy. Properly kept, it will maintain its shine and luster for years.
What is the difference between white gold and yellow gold?
The major difference between yellow gold and white gold is the mix of the alloy. Yellow gold is the purer form – there is no such thing as natural white gold. It must be mixed with one of the white metals mentioned above in order to create the white color.
What karats is white gold available in?
White gold is available in 14K and 18K purity. 14K white gold is 58.3% pure, while 18K is 75% pure.
Why choose white gold?
White gold is an excellent choice that combines relative affordability with luxury and durability. You get a more exclusive look without the need to pay for platinum or diamonds. White gold actually sits quite well beside platinum and diamond jewelry, and the layman may not be able to tell the difference.
For the average person, white gold is not difficult to maintain. The major maintenance is the rhodium rebuffing that white gold jewelry requires every year or so. Many jewelers will actually take care of this for free. As long as white gold jewelry is properly maintained and stored, it will last for years without a need for any major refurbishing.
If you are looking for an engagement ring or other piece of jewelry that will last a lifetime, bring a sense of luxury and dazzle the eye in any setting, white gold is a superior choice. You can find white gold in the same variety of pieces that you find yellow gold, platinum and diamonds.