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What is White Gold: A Comprehensive Guide

white gold
White gold is a popular alternative to traditional yellow gold and has gained a reputation for its elegant appearance and durability. It is an alloy made by combining gold with other metals, such as nickel, palladium, and silver. This unique composition gives white gold its distinct color and properties, making it a sought-after choice for jewelry, particularly for engagement rings and wedding bands.

White gold is a popular alternative to traditional yellow gold and has gained a reputation for its elegant appearance and durability. It is an alloy made by combining gold with other metals, such as nickel, palladium, and silver. This unique composition gives white gold its distinct color and properties, making it a sought-after choice for jewelry, particularly for engagement rings and wedding bands.

The history of white gold can be traced back to the early 20th century when it was developed as a more cost-effective alternative to the precious metal platinum. It quickly gained popularity not only for its affordability but also for its unique look and versatility. Over the years, many varieties of white gold have been produced, each with its distinctive characteristics and applications in the world of fine jewelry.

Key Takeaways

  • White gold is an alloy made by combining gold with other metals, resulting in a distinctive white color and versatile properties.
  • The popularity of white gold began in the early 20th century as an affordable alternative to platinum for jewelry.
  • Different varieties of white gold exist, each offering unique characteristics and suitability for specific types of jewelry.

What is White Gold

White gold is a popular and versatile metal used primarily for jewelry, often seen as an alternative to traditional yellow gold. It is an alloy, which means it is a mixture of two or more different metals, usually gold and another white metal. The primary purpose of creating this alloy is to enhance the gold's strength, durability, and appearance.

The main component of white gold is, of course, gold itself. Gold is a naturally occurring yellow metal that is highly valued for its beauty, scarcity, and malleability. In its pure form, gold is soft and easily damaged, which is why it is often combined with other metals to create more durable and practical alloys for various uses, including jewelry.

The metals commonly used to create white gold are typically silver, palladium, or nickel. These metals not only give gold its white appearance but also enhance its strength and durability. The mixture of gold and other metals results in various karat classifications, with 18 karat white gold containing 75% gold and 25% other metals, and 14 karat white gold containing 58.3% gold and the remaining 41.7% comprised of other metals.

It is essential to note that some white gold alloys may contain nickel, which can cause allergic reactions for some people. Due to this concern, many jewelers now use alternative metals, such as palladium, in their white gold mixtures.

White gold's appearance can sometimes have a slightly yellowish tinge due to the gold content in the alloy. To achieve a bright, lustrous white finish, jewelers often use a rhodium plating on the surface of white gold items. This plating not only enhances the metal's appearance but also adds an additional layer of protection from scratches and wear.

In summary, white gold is an alloy that combines gold with other white metals, resulting in a durable and attractive metal used mainly in jewelry. Its unique combination of characteristics offers an appealing alternative to those who prefer a metal different from traditional yellow gold.

White Gold Ring in a shop

History and Origin

White gold is a popular metal used in jewelry and various other industries for its unique appearance and valuable properties. The term "white gold" can refer to two different substances: a precious metal alloy made by combining gold with other metals, and the term used for cotton due to its tremendous importance in the textile industry.

In the world of jewelry, white gold emerged as a popular alternative to yellow gold and platinum, particularly during the early 20th century. The alloy typically contains gold mixed with other metals, such as silver, palladium, nickel, or zinc, which give it its distinct white appearance and added strength. The use of white gold in the jewelry industry surged during World War II due to the scarcity of platinum, which was prioritized for military use at the time.

In the context of textiles, the term "white gold" signifies cotton, a plant-based fiber that has been a vital natural resource since the beginning of various civilizations. The term "guano" is sometimes also used to describe the valuable white deposits of seabird excrement, eggshells, and carcasses found in specific regions, which were historically used as a source of fertilizer.

Both white gold alloys in jewelry and cotton have a definite place in the history of human ingenuity and industry. White gold alloys have become a staple in the world of precious metals, offering a slightly more affordable choice compared to platinum and a unique appearance for those who prefer a whiter-hued alternative to traditional yellow gold. On the other hand, cotton has, for centuries, played a profound role in global trade, agriculture, and textile production, earning it the nickname "white gold" for its economic significance.

White gold rings

Components and Purity

White gold is an alloy that combines pure gold with other metals, such as palladium, silver, nickel, or zinc. This blend typically gives white gold its signature silvery-white appearance, which is popular in modern jewelry.

The karat of white gold determines its gold concentration. A higher karat signifies a larger percentage of gold content. For instance, 18-karat white gold contains 75% pure gold, while 14-karat white gold has 58.3% gold. The remaining percentage consists of other metals, which contribute to the alloy's strength and durability.

There are a few key components to consider when discussing the purity of white gold:

  • Pure gold: Also known as 24-karat gold, pure gold is extremely soft and malleable, making it less suitable for everyday wear in jewelry. Mixing it with other metals enhances its structural integrity and creates a more durable alloy.

  • Other metals: The types of metals combined with gold influence the properties of the resulting alloy. For example, using nickel may increase the hardness of white gold, while palladium can enhance its white appearance. The choice of metals depends on the desired properties, cost, and hypoallergenic considerations.

  • Alloy properties: The concentration of gold and other metals in white gold affects factors such as tarnish resistance, strength, and color. A higher karat white gold will typically have a more vibrant yellow hue, necessitating the use of more white metals or rhodium plating to achieve a true white color.

It is essential to consider a balance between purity and practicality when selecting white gold jewelry. Higher karat white gold may be more valuable, but it could be softer and less resistant to wear and tear. Lower karat options may be more affordable and durable, but might contain nickel, which can cause allergic reactions for some people.

Ultimately, the ideal white gold composition depends on personal preferences, budget, and intended use. Regardless of the choice, proper care and cleaning can maintain the beauty and longevity of white gold jewelry.

White Gold and Diamond Ring

Varieties of White Gold

White gold is an alloy created by mixing gold with other metals to achieve a white or silver appearance. While there are several varieties of white gold, the differences primarily stem from the percentages of metals and the specific metals used in the alloy. In general, white gold is created using a mix of gold, silver, palladium or platinum, and sometimes, other metals like nickel or zinc.

In terms of karat weight, which measures the purity of gold, white gold can range from 9 to 18 karats, with the most popular being 14K and 18K. It is essential to understand that gold content decreases as the karat number decreases. For example, 18-karat white gold will contain 75% gold, while 14-karat white gold will have 58.5% gold. The remaining percentage is occupied by the other metals in the alloy.

There is a variety of colors when it comes to gold, including the well-known yellow gold, rose gold, and red gold. While these colors are achieved by including different metals in their alloys, white gold stands out due to its unique silver-tone appearance. Yellow gold is made by blending gold with copper and silver, while rose gold is made by combining gold with copper. The inclusion of more copper produces the reddish hue in red gold.

Palladium and platinum are popular choices for creating white gold due to their natural white color. Palladium is a precious metal similar to platinum but less dense and less expensive. When used in white gold alloys, it provides a stunning and stable white finish. Platinum, on the other hand, is a luxurious and rare metal that is more durable and adds heft to the jewelry piece. However, it does come with a higher price tag.

In conclusion, white gold alloys come in several varieties based on the gold karat and metals used in the mix. Exploring different blends of gold, silver, palladium, and platinum allows for a range of white gold options, suitable for various budgets and personal preferences.

Comparing with Other Types of Gold

White gold is a popular choice for many jewelry pieces, especially engagement and wedding rings. It is created by combining gold with other metals, usually palladium, silver, or nickel, which gives it a white or platinum-like appearance1. The resulting alloy not only has a unique color but is also more durable and scratch-resistant than pure gold.

Yellow Gold Rings

Yellow gold is the most traditional form of gold, characterized by its warm, yellow hue. It is an alloy made from gold mixed with copper and silver2. In comparison to white gold, yellow gold has a more classic aesthetic and is often associated with vintage and traditional jewelry styles. It is also generally more hypoallergenic, as white gold mixed with nickel can cause skin allergies for some people.

Rose Gold Rings

Rose gold, also known as pink gold or red gold, is another popular gold color option. The reddish hue of rose gold is achieved by combining gold with a higher amount of copper alloy than that of yellow gold3. This gold type has gained popularity in recent years for its unique and romantic appearance. It is worth noting that the amount of copper used can create varying shades of pink or red, resulting in different hues within the rose gold spectrum.

Here is a brief comparison of the different gold types:




White Gold


Gold mixed with palladium, silver, or nickel

Yellow Gold

Warm yellow

Gold mixed with copper and silver

Rose Gold

Pink to red

Gold mixed with a higher amount of copper than yellow gold

When choosing the right type of gold for your jewelry, consider the desired style, the piece's durability, potential allergies, and personal preference. Each gold type offers its distinct look and character, allowing you to find the ideal color that best suits your taste and needs.

Properties and Durability

White gold is a popular and versatile metal used in various applications, including jewelry and watchmaking. It is an alloy made by combining gold with other metals, most commonly palladium, silver, and copper. This combination enhances the strength and durability of gold while maintaining its lustrous appearance.

One of the primary reasons for white gold's popularity is its resemblance to platinum, but with a more affordable price tag. The alloy's bright white hue comes from the addition of metals like silver and palladium, which also contribute to its enhanced strength and hardness. However, white gold is not as white as platinum and can sometimes have a yellowish tint. To cover this, a thin layer of rhodium is often applied to provide a bright white and durable finish.

In terms of purity, white gold is available in various karats, such as 10k, 14k, and 18k. The higher the karat, the more gold content in the alloy. For example, an 18k white gold piece contains 75% gold and 25% other metals. It is important to note that higher karat levels may compromise the alloy's strength and scratch resistance.

White gold does have some cons to consider. Over time, the rhodium plating may wear off, requiring re-plating to maintain the bright white finish. Moreover, white gold can cause allergic reactions in some people, primarily due to the presence of copper or other metals in the alloy.

The properties and durability of white gold make it an attractive choice for various purposes, especially in jewelry. It offers a combination of beauty, affordability, and strength, but it is essential to be aware of the potential drawbacks, such as the need for maintenance or possible allergic reactions, when choosing white gold items.

Cushion Divine with Half-moon Three Stone White Gold Engagement Ring

Rhodium Plating

Rhodium plating is a common practice in the jewelry industry, particularly for white gold items. It involves applying a thin layer of rhodium, a precious metal from the platinum family, over the surface of the white gold jewelry. The primary purpose of this coating is to enhance the appearance of the white gold by providing a brighter and whiter finish1.

While rhodium plating does improve the color of white gold, it also offers some additional benefits, such as increased durability and resistance to tarnishing. Rhodium is a hard, non-reactive metal that provides a protective barrier against scratches and everyday wear2. Moreover, the plating can also help prevent allergic reactions in individuals sensitive to certain metals, like nickel, which is sometimes present in white gold3.

Despite these benefits, there are some cons associated with rhodium plating. One of the primary drawbacks is that the coating is not permanent. Over time, the rhodium layer will wear off, revealing the underlying metal4. This can necessitate re-plating the jewelry at regular intervals, depending on factors like usage and the thickness of the rhodium layer applied. Additionally, re-plating can be an added cost for maintaining the appearance of white gold jewelry.

In conclusion, rhodium plating is a valuable technique for enhancing the color and durability of white gold jewelry. However, it is essential to be aware of the drawbacks associated with the process, such as the need for re-plating. Ultimately, consumers should weigh the benefits and drawbacks to determine if rhodium plating is the right option for their white gold pieces.

Hypoallergenic Properties

White gold is a popular choice for jewelry, especially for people with sensitive skin or metal allergies. This is because white gold often has hypoallergenic properties that make it less likely to cause an allergic reaction.

When we talk about white gold, it's essential to know that it is an alloy made up of gold and other metals such as nickel, palladium, platinum, or silver. The properties of white gold may vary depending on the specific metals used in the alloy. In general, white gold alloys with palladium or platinum are considered to be more hypoallergenic, as these metals are less reactive and less likely to cause skin irritation.

On the other hand, white gold alloys containing nickel can be problematic for some individuals. Nickel is a common allergen, and its presence in white gold can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions for people with nickel sensitivity. However, it's worth mentioning that many countries now have regulations limiting the amount of nickel used in jewelry, significantly reducing the risk of allergic reactions.

Another advantage of white gold is its durability and resistance to tarnishing. When a layer of rhodium, a member of the platinum family, is applied as a plating, it further enhances the hypoallergenic properties and overall appearance of white gold jewelry.

In summary, the hypoallergenic properties of white gold largely depend on the metals used in its composition. To minimize the risk of allergic reactions, opt for white gold alloys with palladium or platinum and avoid those containing nickel. The addition of rhodium plating further enhances the hypoallergenic properties, making white gold an excellent choice for those with sensitive skin or metal allergies.

A woman holding white gold ring in her hand

Caring for White Gold Jewelry

White gold is a popular choice for many jewelry pieces, including engagement rings and wedding bands. To maintain the beauty and longevity of your white gold jewelry, it's essential to follow proper care and maintenance practices.

One of the essential aspects of caring for white gold jewelry is cleaning. Regularly clean your pieces with a soft, lint-free cloth to remove dirt, oils, and residues. Using a gentle jewelry cleaning solution is also recommended. Be sure to avoid exposing your white gold pieces to harsh chemicals, which can damage the delicate metal and gemstones.

Another vital factor in maintaining your white gold jewelry is proper storage. When not wearing your pieces, store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Keep the jewelry in a soft cloth pouch or a separate compartment in your jewelry box to prevent scratches and damage from other jewelry items.

Additionally, it is crucial to protect your white gold jewelry from damage during daily activities. Remove your jewelry, such as solitaire engagement rings, when participating in activities that may expose them to harsh chemicals, extreme temperatures, or potential knocks and scratches.

For professional maintenance, regular visits to your jeweler are recommended. This ensures your jewelry stays in excellent condition. A skilled jeweler can check for loose gemstones, inspect the metal for any signs of wear or damage, and re-apply rhodium plating if necessary to maintain the lustrous white gold appearance.

By following these recommendations, you can preserve the beauty and longevity of your white gold jewelry for many years to come.

White Gold Ear Rings and Necklace

Popular White Gold Items

White gold is a popular choice for various types of jewelry due to its durability, affordability, and elegant appearance. With a wide range of designs, it is commonly used in the crafting of pieces such as engagement rings, wedding bands, and other fine jewelry items. One of the most sought-after white gold items is Moissanite engagement rings, which are known for their stunning sparkle and unique designs.

In addition to engagement rings, white gold is also a popular choice for wedding rings. Couples often opt for Moissanite wedding bands as they offer a classic and timeless look with a touch of modern elegance. Choosing a white gold wedding band ensures that the ring will stand the test of time, both in terms of style and durability.

Not limited to rings, white gold is also an excellent choice for other accessories such as earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. For example, white gold earrings adorned with diamonds or gemstones make a stunning statement, while pendant necklaces in white gold can feature intricate designs and showcase a variety of gemstones, such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires, or emeralds.

Lastly, white gold bracelets are another popular choice, with designs ranging from delicate and dainty to bold and eye-catching. The versatility of white gold allows for numerous styles and patterns that cater to a diverse audience, making it a favored choice for both men and women's jewelry.

In conclusion, white gold is a versatile and timeless choice for various jewelry items such as engagement rings, wedding bands, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. Its elegance and durability make it a popular choice for those looking to invest in quality jewelry that lasts.

White gold jewellery set

Price and Affordability

White gold is a popular choice for jewelry, especially for wedding bands, due to its beautiful appearance and durability. When it comes to price, white gold is often seen as an affordable alternative to other precious metals such as platinum.

The value of white gold is determined by the purity of the gold content and the type of alloy used to make it white. Gold is typically measured in karats, with 24 karats being pure gold. Most white gold jewelry is made with 14 or 18 carats, meaning it contains 58.5% or 75% gold respectively. The remaining percentage is made up of metal alloys, which provide the white color and strengthen the gold.

Comparing the prices of white gold with other precious metals, it is generally more affordable than platinum, whose price is typically almost double that of white gold. However, it's important to note that factors such as design, craftsmanship, and the brand can influence the final price of a piece of jewelry.

When considering white gold for your jewelry, it's essential to balance cost with quality. A well-crafted piece made from high-quality materials will ensure longevity and maintain its value over time. As a versatile and attractive option for various jewelry styles, white gold offers an appealing balance of affordability and luxury.

White Gold Earrings

White Gold vs Imitations

White gold is a popular choice for jewelry due to its elegant appearance and durability. It is an alloy made of gold and other white metals, such as nickel, palladium, or silver. The combination of these metals gives white gold its distinct color and strength, making it a desirable alternative to more traditional yellow gold. White gold alloys for gold jewelry can vary in terms of their specific composition.

Imitation white gold, on the other hand, may utilize materials like brass, copper, or aluminum instead of precious metals to create a similar appearance at a lower cost. In some cases, these imitations may be coated with a thin layer of gold- a technique known as gold plating or vermeil. Vermeil specifically refers to a gold-plated layer on a sterling silver base. While these imitations can be visually appealing, they generally lack the durability and value of genuine white gold.

Fool's gold, also known as pyrite, is another material often mistaken for gold. It has a metallic appearance, but its chemical composition and properties are quite different from those of gold. Pyrite is an iron sulfide, and its color can range from pale brass-yellow to grayish gold. It's brittle, often found in crystal forms, and it lacks the luster and malleability of real gold. When in doubt, a simple scratch test can often help distinguish between gold and pyrite– genuine gold is soft, while pyrite is harder and more likely to shatter when struck.

In conclusion, it's essential to be aware of the differences between white gold and its imitations. Genuine white gold jewelry made from precious metal alloys will generally be more valuable and durable, while imitation pieces may provide a more affordable alternative but with compromises in quality and longevity. Educating oneself about the materials used in jewelry, such as white gold, vermeil, and pyrite, can ensure informed purchasing decisions and proper care for your cherished pieces.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does white gold differ from yellow gold?

White gold is an alloy created by combining yellow gold with other white metals like palladium, silver, or nickel. This mixture produces a silvery-white hue, giving white gold its distinct appearance. On the other hand, yellow gold is a more traditional gold alloy made by blending gold with copper and silver, resulting in a warm yellow hue.

What is the difference between white gold and platinum?

While both white gold and platinum have a silvery-white color, they are different metals. Platinum is a naturally occurring metal with a higher density and greater durability than white gold. White gold is an alloy of gold mixed with other metals. Platinum is also more expensive than white gold due to its rarity and density.

Does white gold contain silver?

Yes, white gold often contains silver as one of its alloy components, along with other metals like palladium or nickel. The silver content contributes to the lighter color and can enhance the durability of the final product.

How does the price of white gold and platinum compare?

White gold is generally less expensive than platinum. This price difference is due to platinum's rarity, density, and the higher purity levels typically used in platinum jewelry. White gold is an alloy made from less expensive metals, which keeps the overall cost lower.

What is the composition of 14k white gold?

14k white gold consists of 58.5% pure gold, with the remaining 41.5% made up of other metals such as palladium, silver, or nickel. The specific combination of metals can vary, but the overall gold content remains consistent at 14 parts gold to 10 parts alloy metals.

Why is white gold considered special or valuable?

White gold is valued for its unique color, strength, and versatility. It provides an alternative to traditional yellow gold and can be used in various jewelry designs. The addition of other metals to create the white gold alloy can also increase its durability, making it suitable for long-lasting jewelry. 

Checkout some of our top collections:

  • Moissanite Engagement Rings
  • Moissanite Earrings
  • Moissanite Bracelets
  • Moissanite Solitaire Engagement Rings
  • Moissanite Mens Engagement Rings
  • Moissanite Princess Cut Stones
  • Lab Grown Engagement Rings
  • Lab Grown Diamond Earrings
  • Lab Grown Diamond Wedding Bands

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