All About White Gold.

What is White Gold?
How is White Gold Made?
What is The Best White Gold?
What is White Gold Alloyed With?
Are All White Golds the Same?

First, an explanation of white gold and gold alloying. 14K gold is alloyed with other metals to achieve certain colors and/or workability attributes (malleability, ductility, etc.).

The different colors are self explanatory E.g.; whiter alloys such as silver or nickel mask the natural yellow of pure gold. Workability characteristics will vary considerably depending on the mix of the alloy metals. Pure gold is very malleable and easily worked into various shapes, forms, wires, etc. However, pure gold (24K) is generally considered too soft for rings. Almost all yellow gold blends are much more workable and ductile than their white gold counterparts. Most white golds are alloyed with nickel, a very white and very hard metal.

The ideal workability attributes necessary for a hand wrought item will often require a different mix of alloy metals than the normal mix of alloys for a cast item. Some of the popular alloy metals for white gold are copper, silver, zinc, nickel and in some of the newer blends, Palladium.

The white Gold blends that are alloyed with palladium are growing in popularity as they provide very workable castings and at the same time avoid many of the negatives issues associated with Nickel alloy mixes. It should be noted that these Palladium white Gold blends are typically not as bright white as some of the high nickel content blends.

14K white gold is 58% pure gold. The other 42% of metals used to make the 14K white gold and help mask the yellow of the predominant metal (58% pure gold) will vary considerably as the various gold manufacturers and casters look to develop gold blends with the best mix of whiteness and wear attributes. The same holds true for 18k White Gold, which is 75% pure gold.

Refiners, manufacturers, and jewelers experiment to find the optimal mix of alloys for their applications.Historically, some of the whiter blends of white gold have been some of the poorer performing alloys with regard to durability and longevity of jewelry items. The problems stem from the difficulty of mixing the different alloys to combine and make a homogeneous blend of metals that will be workable, malleable and otherwise suitable for jewelry making.

This is an immensely complicated issue as any change in casting temperatures or any change in the complex casting process can have an effect on the malleability, workability of the cast metal. It is quite common to have casting problems in white gold that may lead to future problems with the item of jewelry, two of the big problems are:

(1)Porosity in the metal. Actual voids or unfilled areas in the casting that lead to weakness or even failure of the cast item.

(2)Brittleness or lack of ductility.

Nickel has been a very popular alloy metal to use for white gold because of the very white color and the hardness it gives the white gold alloy. However, many white gold alloys that contain nickel may not be optimal for smaller elements of jewelry designs such as crowns (the prong elements that are used to hold diamonds) as these smaller elements may be prone to weakening and eventual breakdown due to the corrosive behavior of nickel in these white gold alloys, especially in conjunction with any exposure to environments that have chlorine such as pools, spas, etc.

It should be mentioned that nickel is also associated with allergic reactions which is not a good thing to have happen with an engagement ring or wedding band.

There have been many recent advances in new white gold alloys from? the major precious metal refiners that service the jewelry manufacturing industry, all trying to find that magic mix that will remedy the above mentioned problems in many white gold mixes and provide a workable and white mix.

Stuller Settings, a major manufacturer and supplier to jewelry stores : has a new blend of white gold called X-1 that is very white. Other refiners and manufacturers are also coming out with versions.

Bottom line, if you are considering a white gold jewelry item, be sure your jeweler is aware of the many recent advancements and products available. If your jeweler is aware of these choices they should also be able to recommend the optimal blend for the application as there may be design specific issues that could affect the choice.

How often will my white gold ring need to be rhodium plated?

What is rhodium plating?
Does white gold discolor or turn yellow over time?
Are all white gold rings rhodium plated?
How much does it cost to rhodium plate a ring?
How long does rhodium plating last?

With the recent popularity of white metals, we are asked similar questions more and more frequently. The answers depends on several factors that I will explain below.

Our current cost as of December 2015 for rhodium plating starts at $53 per piece. This includes cleaning and polishing. To have Knox rhodium plate your jewelry, contact us here.

Rhodium plating or “dipping” is the standard in our industry to make white gold items white.  Nearly all white gold jewelry sold in the U.S. market is rhodium plated.  All 14k and 18k white golds are alloyed with other white metals to achieve a white look. Given that both of these alloys are predominantly pure yellow gold (14k is 58.5% pure and 18k is 75% pure), the resulting color isn’t absolutely white like platinum. In order to provide a beautiful bleached white color, white gold is plated with a platinum group metal called rhodium. This rhodium plating is a non-permanent metal deposition process that can be done while you wait at most jewelry stores.

The actual layer or coat of rhodium, which is applied in an electroplating process, is microscopic (maybe a few microns thick) and will eventually wear off. Body chemistry, excessive sweat, occupational and lifestyle wear, and chlorine can all shorten the life of rhodium plating. A new rhodium plating should last six months to a year on a ring until the plating will be noticeably diminished. The yellowing of the bottom of the ring is usually the first noticeable sign that your rhodium plating is wearing thin. Areas with diamonds, filigree, or engraving will retain the rhodium finish longer as these areas receive less wear. Also, rings with large polished areas will make the inevitable wearing away of the rhodium finish more noticeable. Rhodium plating on pendants and earrings will last much longer as they aren’t exposed to as much wear and tear or skin oils.

To properly rhodium plate an item, the item should first be polished and then thoroughly cleaned via an ultrasonic bath and a distilled water steaming. It is paramount that it is absolutely free of any dirt, oil, and polishing compound before it is plated. After this cleaning, the item should also go through an electro-cleaning process. This final step will help ensure proper rhodium adhesion as the heated cleaning solution is activated by electricity. If there are yellow or rose gold elements in the jewelry, they will need to be masked with a non-permeable substance (fingernail polish is popular) so those areas are not plated white.

Like anything else, results will vary, especially if shortcuts are taken. If fewer of the above described cleaning steps are used in the process, the rhodium finish could prematurely wear off.

In the last few years rhodium plating has become a more expensive service to provide as rhodium prices have sky-rocketed to $6000.00 per ounce. Expect to pay between $25.00 to $60.00 for a complete polishing, cleaning, and Rhodium plating of a ring. Two tone designs may be more due to the necessity of masking the areas that are not to be plated.