How to choose, clean and care for
the world's most popular metal.
White gold first became popular in the 1920's as
an alternative to platinum. Over the past few years, it has
become more and more fashionable, almost eclipsing yellow
gold from time to time. Gold is a yellow metallic element
but is too soft to be used to make jewelery in its pure form.
Gold's yellow colour is caused by gold absorbing violet and
blue light but reflecting yellow and red light. Gold is usually
mixed with other metals to produce an alloy – a mixture
of two or more metals. In the past, most cultures preferred
the colour of gold jewellery to remain quite close to pure
gold and so most jewelery has historically been made using
yellow gold alloys. White gold is created by mixing pure gold
with other metals, like nickel, silver and palladium (a close
relative of platinum), in the alloy process. The white gold
you see used in jewelery is actually an off-white gold alloy.
Most white gold pieces are enhanced by rhodium plating which
gives it a highly reflective white surface. Over a period
of time, this surface may become less bright. The most common
metal that causes a significant bleaching effect in gold is
nickel (which is cheaper), and also provides (in 18 carat
alloys) a great colour match for platinum.