Because platinum is popular, customers often want that look, but not that price. That leads to questions about white gold. What is white gold? Pawn shops in Northern Virginia can show you several examples, but here’s a brief and simple explanation.
Twenty-four karat pure gold is always yellow, never white. But jewelry isn’t generally made with twenty-four karat gold because it’s too soft as to be practical, which means the gold is mixed with other metals to strengthen it. When these metals are cooper or silver, the gold remains yellow; when they are palladium or nickel, you get a whitish effect. We say whitish because white gold always retains a yellowish tinge; it never looks pure white, as platinum or silver do.
To offset this tinge, white gold jewelry is often plated with rhodium, a precious metal that because of its brittle nature, is also not practical to make jewelry with. It does, however, make for a dazzling finish when used for plating. Plating wears off over time and will need replacement. You’ll also notice that older pieces were not plated, and retain the aforementioned tinge—but, it will still be more white than today’s unplated white gold. Why? Because most manufacturers assume white gold will be plated anyway and don’t worry as much about using metals that will yield the best white. Your preferences for shine and or low maintenance will determine your choice.
That’s the basic overview, but there’s so much more about how white gold color is graded etc. If you have questions, please bring them to us at Vienna Jewelry on Maple Avenue, and we’ll be happy to answer them!