The Color of White Gold
The Color of White Gold...
by Julie Lee of Julie's Jewelry Design, LLC.
The color of any karat gold alloy is determined by the distribution of colors in the light that is reflected from its surface. White gold is created by replacing the silver in the traditional gold-copper-silver-zinc compositions used for 14kt yellow gold with nickel. The nickel and zinc present in white gold reduce the red and yellow colors reflected by copper and gold.
Unfortunately, this reduction in the red-yellow color is nowhere near 100% efficient and some red-yellows are still seen. This means that white gold is not as "white" as we would like to see in our jewelry. This is true of all white gold jewelry pieces, regardless of whether the white gold is a nickel white gold or a palladium white gold.
Indeed the normal color of 14 and 18kt white gold is slightly yellow. This hint of yellow can intensify with time and exposure to chlorine and other chemicals found in a typical household. To counteract this naturally occurring patina, and to compliment find diamonds, the normal procedure is to apply a decorative rhodium electroplate finish to white gold jewelry pieces. Rhodium is a Platinum Group Metal and when applied to a well-finished white gold ring, results in a brilliant white appearance. All finished 14kt white gold jewelry pieces are completed with a quality rhodium plated finish. A rhodium finish however is not impervious to the effects of wear and abrasion that may occur in everyday use. To limit wear, one should avoid household cleansers, gardening, and other activities that can quickly destroy the rhodium platinum, thus exposing the slightly yellow tint. Even talc, which is found in many cosmetics, is known to have an abrasive effect on jewelry items.
When your white gold jewelry pieces begin to show a hint of yellow, give us a call. One of our friendly sales associates will be glad to offer advice and even issue a service ticket number should your jewelry piece need to be rhodium plated again to restore the original white gold appearance.