What is White Gold?
White Gold, as the name suggests, would be the precious metal Gold, mixed with another type of metal through chemical processing to turn it’s natural yellow hue into white. As we all know, gold is measured in karats which would the term that describes the purity of the gold in an alloy or piece of jewelry. 24k being the purest at .999 gold followed by 22k (0.920), 18k (750 gold), 14k (58.5), among others.
It was introduced by blacksmith and jewelry makers to add variety into the market of such items. This also answered the demand of people who didn’t want to buy silver anymore because it easily broke or tarnished. An better alternative you might say because of the fact that with gold being a soft metal, when mixed with white metals like nickel, palladium, and platinum won’t only make it’s original hue lighter, but it also would be harder and more durable over time. Other mixes with gold have been used, but, they create another hue only the three aforementioned metals have been found to turn the gold white.
One of the earlier types of white gold was when it was mixed with nickel which made the color lighter and hard which was great for regular-shaped jewelries like rings, but, still leaned more to yellow because it had been also mixed with copper. But, jewelers have found another bleaching agent that made it whiter and that is zinc because it covered up the yellow hints that copper introduced to the alloy. The downside for this combination of metals would be the fact that almost 10% (1 out 8) of humans are allergic to long nickel exposure which may be manifested in a rash on the part where a person wears his/her white gold jewelry.
Thus, with the use of specialized blacksmithing in came the gold mix that had palladium in it because of its hypoallergenic properties. Palladium a softer metal than nickel made the resulting white gold softer much easier to adjust which meant that pieces of jewelry made from these materials are likely to have gemstone decorations in them because they were more pliable than their nickel-gold counterparts.
With these two mixtures, we’ve found out that one leans more to yellow (nickel-gold) while the other (palladium-gold) has a lighter grey hue when compared to the other. Through advances in the craft, jewelers have devised a way to make white gold even shinier and “whiter” for their customers and that was through rhodium plating. In this process, rhodium is used in its liquid form to plate it with the white gold accessory that they are selling. It is an ingenious way of making white gold even more attractive, but, as all plating processes go, this doesn’t last forever. Most people who have bought rhodium-plated white gold are advised to come back in a year or so to plate the jewelry piece again because of the tarnish that is had caused. This entails additional cost, but, would be worth it to keep the item look new.
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