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White Gold and it's composition.

Updated on March 14, 2013

When my wife and I decided to get married one of the first things we agreed on was that we wanted white gold over the traditional yellow gold bands. We were both of the opinion that yellow gold looks a bit garish and over the top, I suppose its personal taste. I have never been a big fan of yellow gold and my parents jewellery has always been white gold.

The only exception being my dad who has a yellow gold wedding ring. With us both wanting white gold we expected it to be quite uncommon, we soon realised that white gold is used quite a lot in wedding rings. We were able to find the rings we wanted, with the type of gold we wanted and got our engravings into the bargain at a very reasonable price.

One thing struck me, what is white gold?

White gold ring
White gold ring

White gold is an alloy consisting of gold and at least one other white metal, usually nickel, manganese or palladium. As with pure yellow gold, the purity of the white gold is given in carats. White gold's properties can vary depending on which metals are in the alloy and what proportions are used. As a result, white gold alloys can be used for different purposes to regular yellow gold. When Gold is mixed with nickel to form an alloy, It is hard and strong, and therefore good for rings and pins.

Gold/palladium alloys are soft, pliable and good for white gold gemstone settings. They are sometimes mixed with other metals like silver, copper and platinum, for weight and durability.Work of this style and quality often will require a specialized goldsmith. The term white gold is used loosely in the industry to describe karat gold alloys with a whitish hue. Many believe that the color of the rhodium plating which is what you see on many commercial pieces, is actually the color of white gold. The term " White " covers a large spectrum of colors and it often overlaps paler yellow, tinted brown, and pale rose. The jewelry industry often hides these off-white colours by rhodium plating which re-emphasizes the purity of the gold.

A common white gold formulation consists of 90% gold and 10 % nickel. sometimes Copper is added to increase plasticity and workability of the alloy.The alloys used in jewelry industry are usually gold-palladium-silver, or gold-nickel-copper-zinc. Palladium and nickel act as primary bleaching agents for gold; zinc acts as a secondary bleaching agent to attenuate the color of copper. So it seems that all that glistens is not always gold and gold is not always as pure as you believe it to be.

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