Simply put, gold is yellow. Gold is an element on the Periodic table and is bright yellow/gold in colour when in its purest form. So, how is there jewellery in white gold? If it doesn't come out of the ground where does it come from?
All gold used in jewellery is alloyed with other metals, the process of alloying means that pure gold is melted down and mixed with other metals, such as silver, palladium, platinum and copper. This process makes the different carats of gold, for example, 9ct or 18ct.
Pure gold is considered 24ct, or at least 999 parts of gold per 1000 units. Therefore, 9ct is 375 parts per 1000 units and 18ct is 750 parts per 1000 units. So for example, when we think of 9ct, there are 375 parts of gold per 1000 units, the other 635 parts per 1000 units are made up of the metals alloyed with the gold. To create different coloured gold the mixture of alloys is adjusted to create a different colour, such as, for rose gold more copper is added giving a pinker colour to the gold.
The same applies to white gold, to create a whiter appearance, more silvery metals, such as silver, platinum and palladium are alloyed with the gold. So for 9ct white gold, there will still be 375 parts of gold per 1000 but the final gold will have a relatively brighter whiter appearance. When we look at 18ct white gold, however, there is still 750 parts of gold per 1000 units and so only 250 units of whiter metals, and so often, 18ct white gold will look quite yellow due to the high content of gold.
How come white gold jewellery doesn't have this yellow tinge?
Once white gold has been created, and the jewellery has been made, the finished piece is then coated in thick layer of rhodium. Rhodium is part of the same family of metals as platinum, it has a silvery colour, is very hard and chemically inert, meaning that most people do not have any allergies to it. It is also very valuable, and considered more valuable than most precious metals due to its rarity. The layer of rhodium over the gold gives a beautiful white finish to the jewellery.
The rhodium will wear off over time, generally this is considered to be 1 to 3 years. However, this is very dependent on the type of jewellery, for example, rhodium on a ring will wear off much quicker than on earrings. This is due to the everyday wear on a ring is much higher than earrings. Also, rhodium will be affected by the products the wearer uses, such as, hairspray or perfume will quicken the pace the rhodium wears off. Of course, the activities the wearer undertakes whilst wearing the jewellery will also affect the rhodium, cleaning, gardening etc will all increase the rate at which the rhodium wears off.
If you notice that your white gold jewellery is looking faded and beginning to look slightly yellow, it is probably that the rhodium plating has started to wear. Fear not, it is a simple process to re-rhodium jewellery. It is a service, which we offer, to re-rhodium a ring costs £43.50. And this process will have your white gold jewellery looking like new again! Pop in or contact us for further details.
Deanne Cushion says...
Very interesting information!
February 02, 2021
Wow that is so interesting! I had no idea that’s how white gold is created. Thanks for the information.
January 29, 2019