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Glossary › What is White Gold?

Glossary: What is White Gold?

What is White Gold?

Refined and stylish, white gold has become popular for its fashion-forward feel and modern, silvery sheen. Originally created to imitate platinum, the pale metal is a mixture of pure gold and specific white metals, such as nickel, palladium and silver. It is then usually coated with a layer of rhodium to enhance durability and luster. While it is real gold, white gold is essentially an alloy that includes other metals to increase its strength and create its icy pale appearance. 

In every type of gold jewelry, pure gold is blended with harder metals to increase strength and durability. Though rare and valuable, pure gold is actually a soft metal that will easily become misshapen without the inclusion of harder metals to keep it durable and rigid. For white gold, silvery-colored metal alloys are added to produce the desired white color. Apart from these metal alloys, jewelry-grade white gold is also typically coated in another precious metal called rhodium, which comes from the same family as platinum. In addition to adding even more durability and strength, this rhodium layer adds a beautiful lustrous white surface sheen.

Why Buy White Gold?

White gold offers several benefits that make it an alluring choice in the jewelry world. These include: 

  • It’s more cost-friendly than platinum.

  • For engagement rings or wedding bands, it’s a trendier jewelry metal compared to classic yellow gold.

  • It is mixed with stronger metals, making it more scratch-resistant and durable than yellow gold.

  • It tends to complement white diamonds better than traditional yellow gold, since yellow gold can sometimes reflect in a diamond and make it look more yellow in appearance.

  • It looks great with fair and rosy skin tones.

White Gold vs. Platinum vs. Yellow Gold

Many people prefer the lustrous look of white gold over platinum due to the lower cost. Platinum is much heavier, purer and denser compared to gold alloy mixtures. What’s more, it is also about 30% rarer. These traits combine to make platinum an especially expensive precious metal. 

Although plain white gold costs less than platinum, it is still a beautiful and classic precious metal. It’s also more malleable, which allows for more customization. This means you can get white gold jewelry in a wider array of styles that suit your unique taste and style. 

As previously mentioned, white gold tends to look better with clear white diamonds compared to yellow gold, which also tends to be a little less scratch-resistant. That said, in the eyes of many, yellow gold offers its own share of benefits that make it superior to white gold. As with all things, metal preferences typically come down to personal taste. 

Karat Grades 

Since white gold is an alloy it contains a certain percentage of pure gold and some other metals. Karat grades are used to reveal these qualities. While pure gold is notated as 24 karat, 18 karat gold is 75% gold, while 14 karat is 58.3% gold, and 10K is 41.7% gold. As you may have noticed, the karat number increases in relation to the amount of pure gold in the metal. 

The value of white gold jewelry will depend on the karat (18K vs. 14K) and how much metal is used to create the jewelry piece. The price of white gold jewelry will also depend on the vendor, the design, the gemstones, and the exact amount of white gold in the piece.

White Gold - Pros and Cons

Refined, fashionable and spectacularly stackable, lustrous white gold jewelry seamlessly complements other jewelry in varying colors of gold, such as yellow gold and rose gold. This makes it very easy to mix and match with the pieces in your existing collection. Jewelry such as white hoop earrings, white gold rings, gold pendant necklaces, bangles and chains can be worn again and again in every conceivable setting.

With that said, since they often contain nickel, white gold jewelry pieces can also cause allergic skin reactions in certain people. That said, the metal can be hypoallergenic when mixed with alloy metals other than nickel. 

Although white gold makes stunning jewelry, it also comes with some considerations. The refined pale color looks quite beautiful adjacent to white, colorless diamonds, making it a trendy choice for diamond engagement rings. Bear in mind, however, that the bright white luster can accentuate any yellow tint of diamonds with lower color grades. 

Does White Gold Tarnish?

While it doesn’t technically tarnish, white gold can lose some of its color and luster over time. You can prevent this by having it dipped every couple of years to restore its rhodium coating.

How To Clean White Gold

Like any piece of jewelry, white gold requires special care when cleaning. You can safely clean your white gold by creating a mild solution using a few drops of dish soap (nothing with harsh chemicals such as bleach or chlorine) and warm water. Soak the jewelry for about thirty minutes and then gently rub the metal with a gentle microfiber cloth to remove any remaining dirt or smudges. You can also have your John Atencio white gold jewelry professionally cleaned at any Colorado John Atencio location. 

When choosing the right precious metal for your jewelry, it's important to get guidance from an expert to help you understand the color relationship between gold, diamonds and other precious stones. At John Atencio, our experts can show you how to choose and match the right metal and precious gem. Shop online or make an appointment at one of our locations to meet with our attentive, knowledgeable team.