One of the most loved and popular metals of all times, gold is nothing short of gorgeous and stunning. Since its mysterious discovery around 7000 years ago, this metal has been used by various ancient civilizations across the globe. It has been used for multiple purposes like designed jewellery, decorative articles and as money as well. Of all the uses that are still valid, one of gold’s uses that has become even more prominent is – currency.
Although most of us are aware of gold being used
Gaining immense popularity in recent times, white gold, the pretty and pristine white metal, is simply stunning. It is a favourite of people for jewellery like earrings, pendants, necklaces, and even wedding and engagement rings. Given the beautiful, appealing aura and contemporary look of this metal, it is definitely not a surprise.
Although people love white gold, not many know about the well-kept secrets about it. Before we deep dive into figuring out these mysteries, let’s know what white gold exactly is…
When we hear the word ‘gold’, an image of gleaming yellow-golden metal pops into our minds. But in spite of this there is a popular notion that raw gold has a whitish tint to it. However, it is a misconception! In reality, gold in its naturally occurring state has a yellowish tinge to it. This means yellow gold’s hue comes closest to the raw, natural metal.
Making of White Gold
Naturally occurring gold is yellowish in hue, hence it is mixed with other metals, to change it to white shade. Usually, white metals like silver, nickel, zinc, silver, or palladium are alloyed with natural gold to create this metal. This not only gives white gold its shining, bright shade but even hardens the metal as the natural one is softer.
However, how white this gold alloy turns out to depend upon the amount and proportion of these added metals. This is a big reason, why at times, we feel that certain white gold creations are whiter than others.
Rhodium Plating for White Gold
Even after the addition of white metals, sometimes this gold type still tends to retain its yellow hue. Hence, adornments designed in white gold are often plated with a very thin layer of rhodium. This gives the white metal a chromatic look that is generally associated with it. Further, it also adds a shiny gleam to white gold and toughens it.
One important factor in this is – rhodium plating tends to wear off after regular use. This makes it imperative that you timely inspect your white gold jewellery and get rhodium replating done.
White Gold Durability
When compared to its yellow counterpart, white gold is much more durable but not as hard as platinum. One thing that can determine the durability of white gold is – karatage. The higher the karat of gold within a creation, the less durable it is. Simply put, gold (including white gold) becomes more softer as its purity increases.
Hence, gold is mixed with other white metals to improve the durability of this alloy. Also, to maintain the lustre and shine of white gold for a very long-time, it needs to be properly kept and maintained.
White Gold and Karats
Before we go ahead, it is important to understand white gold and its karats. Although, just like regular yellow gold, the purity of white gold too is measured in karats. It is a unit that denotes the amount of pure gold parts used in a creation along with other alloys. To make it simpler, when we say 18K white gold, it indicates that out of 24 parts, 18 parts are of pure gold and rest 6 parts are other metals.
In case of white gold, the usual karat weights preferred are 10K, 14K and 18K. Wondering how they are different from one another? Then, let’s find out.
It is necessary to be mindful that even though durability differs as per the difference in karat. But, at the same time, these variations are not as pronounced as in the yellow variation. A major reason for this is rhodium plating on white gold that protects the white gold from scratches. Hence, high karat yellow wears off easily than white gold of the same purity.
Quality of White Gold
Before buying white gold, it is imperative that you know about the quality and characteristics of this metal. The very first evaluative point is – karat that indicates the purity of gold. The higher this karat weight, the more expensive the metal per gram.
Another pointer to take into consideration is the nickel content within the alloy. This is for people with sensitive skin who are prone to allergic reactions due to the presence of nickel. Hence, it is essential to know this prior to making the purchase.
Next, rhodium plating on white gold jewellery is very important. It is preferrable to have thicker plating, so it doesn’t wear off easily. And in case the rhodium plating is off, then you can always get it replated. The cost of replating depends upon the jeweller, some may even do it for free.
Nickel presence in White Gold
White gold alloys contain pure gold mixed with other ‘filler’ metals like silver, zinc, and more, resulting in the gleaming hue of the metal. One such alloy that is added to white gold is – nickel. But this added metal has a notorious reputation for causing allergies in people.
Especially if individuals with sensitive skin come in contact with nickel alloyed white gold, the chances of having an allergic reaction are very high. More often than not, the rhodium plating tends to delay the contact between skin and metal. But once the plating wears off, direct contact with metal may result in allergies.
A probable solution to this is inspecting the jewellery creations regularly, and when you see the plating wearing off, immediately get it replated. Another solution could be to simply opt for white gold creations that are nickel-free. This will completely skip the question of any sensitivity issues, and you will be able to wear your precious white gold reaction without worrying.