How is White Gold Made?

How is White Gold Made?

How is White Gold Made?

White gold is made by combining pure 100% gold with other white metals, such as nickel, palladium, and silver. White gold is measured in karats just like regular, yellow gold. For example, 14k white gold is made from 14 parts of yellow gold and 10 parts of white metals (ex. nickel, silver, and palladium). 18k white gold is made from 18 parts yellow gold and 6 parts of other metals.

Other metals are added to gold to give it a lighter color and make it stronger because pure gold alone without any other metals, is very soft and malleable. Adding other, stronger metals, enhances the structure of gold, making it more durable and less likely to wear out quickly.

So, what makes white gold look white?

The main reason why white gold has that shiny white look is due to the rhodium coating that’s applied to the surface of the gold alloy. If you’ve ever had a piece of white gold jewelry that you use often, you may notice that as time passes and your ring wears out, you’ll start to see some yellow gold under that white shiny rhodium coating.

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Is White Gold Real Gold?

Absolutely, yes. White gold is real gold, however, the amount of pure gold that is in a piece of white gold jewelry depends on how many karats your white gold jewelry is. For example, 18k white gold is made from 75% real, yellow gold. As previously stated, pure yellow gold is mixed with other metals and is coated with rhodium to give white gold its shiny white color.

In the United States, you can tell how much gold is in your jewelry by looking at the required labeling that’s usually engraved on a piece of jewelry.

So, how do you know how much pure gold is in your white gold jewelry?

You can determine how much pure gold is in your jewelry by dividing the karat of your jewelry by 24 karats. Multiplying the result by 100 gives you the percentage of pure gold in your jewelry.

For example, if your jewelry is labeled as 10k, you should know that your jewelry is 41.7% gold. You can do this calculation by dividing the number of karats by 24. For example, if you have a 10k jewelry item (10/24 * 100 = 41.7%).

The higher the number of karats, the more pure gold your jewelry contains. For example, 18k gold has more gold than 14k or 10k gold. 24k gold is 100% gold and is the highest karat of gold.

This calculation made earlier work with regular yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, and any other type of gold jewelry. This is so because “karats” is the unit of measurement for gold.

Is White Gold Really Yellow Gold?

While white gold is not referred to as yellow gold, it does contain real, yellow gold. Pure regular gold is mixed with other white metals, such as silver, nickel, and palladium to give it a white color. The gold alloy is then coated with rhodium to give it that nice, shiny white color.

In the section above we included a photo of a worn-out ring that has lost most of its rhodium coating, exposing the yellow gold underneath. So, to some extent white gold is really regular, yellow gold, mixed with other metals and coated with rhodium to give it that shiny white look that sought after by millions.

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Is All White Gold Plated with Rhodium?

Almost all white gold that’s sold around the world is plated with rhodium and is mixed with other metals, such as nickel, silver, and palladium. Plating gold with rhodium gives it that shiny white look that people look for in white gold.

Rhodium makes regular, yellow gold look like platinum. Most people looking at a rhodium-plated white gold ring and platinum ring won’t be able to tell the difference between the two. White gold is much cheaper than platinum, which is rarer and denser, adding to its cost.

Most who wear rhodium-plated white gold don’t have allergic reactions and tolerate it well, but we have heard of some people who are super allergic to other metals, have an allergic reaction to rhodium-plated white gold. However, we hypothesize that the allergic reaction was due to other metals that are often found in white gold, such as zinc, silver, manganese, and palladium.

The rhodium plating does start to wear down, especially if the jewelry is worn by someone who is active. When the rhodium wears out, you’ll start seeing pale yellow gold underneath the white rhodium layer.

What should you do if this happens to you?

You can take your jewelry to a jewelry repair shop and they can restore your ring by redipping it in rhodium. Once rhodium is reapplied, your jewelry will look as new as the first day you purchased it.

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Why is White Gold Plated with Rhodium?

White gold is plated with rhodium because when gold is mixed with other metals, the mixture is not enough to give it the white gold color that people like, so to give it that white gold look that we have all come to love, it must be plated with rhodium to cover the yellow gold alloy that’s beneath the rhodium.

Rhodium plating masks the dull yellow color of gold, turning a piece of jewelry into what we know as white gold. Once rhodium is applied, a piece of jewelry looks very similar to platinum. Most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between white gold and platinum because they look so similar.

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Is White Gold Worth More Than Yellow Gold?

The price difference between white gold and yellow good is very small because gold is compared in terms of karats. So, two different pieces of jewelry with the same karat (same amount of gold) usually have the same value. For example, a 14k yellow gold bracelet and a 14k white gold bracelet, both have the same amount of pure gold, making their value almost identical. The rhodium plating that’s added to white gold may increase the price of white gold jewelry over regular jewelry ever so slightly.

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White Gold vs Yellow Gold

The only difference between white gold and yellow gold is that yellow gold is mixed with metals, such as copper, nickel, zinc, and silver, with copper making up most of the metals added to gold to maintain its yellow color.

White gold, on the other hand, is mixed with other metals, but most of the metals added are white metals to give it as much of a white look as possible. That said, no matter how much white metals are added to white gold, white gold would not be white without the rhodium plating that’s added to the surface of gold to give it, it’s white color.

That said, if you see a piece of yellow jewelry labeled as 14k and a piece of white jewelry that’s labeled as 14k, both of these items of jewelry contain the same amount of pure, yellow gold and both are made of 58.3% gold. The only difference is the other metals that the two different pieces of gold are mixed with and the fact that white gold is plated with rhodium to give it that white gold/platinum look.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is White Gold Popular?

White gold has risen to popularity in recent times. Most brides choose white settings for their engagement rings and other gold accessories because they believe it’s more modern than yellow gold. The purchase of yellow gold jewelry declined for a while, but it has made a comeback. People who want to go with a classic option go with yellow gold and those who have a more modern taste tend to go with white gold.

What’s the Difference Between White Gold and Yellow Gold?

The difference between yellow gold and white gold is that white gold is mixed with other white metals, such as silver and nickel to make it whiter than it normally is and it’s also plated with rhodium to give it that shiny white platinum look. Yellow gold is also mixed with other metals, but it’s mixed mostly with copper to help it maintain its yellow look.

Which is Worth More? (White Gold vs Yellow Gold)

White gold is slightly more expensive than yellow gold. However, at most places, the price of white gold is similar to the price of yellow gold. The price of gold mostly depends on the karat gold, which refers to the amount of gold in a piece of jewelry. For example, a 14k white gold bracelet will usually cost the same or slightly more than 14k yellow gold bracelet. This is so because they both have the same amount of pure gold.

 

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