If you’re wondering how white gold is made, the first thing to understand is that white gold is an alloy—a white variety of gold doesn’t exist in nature. Metals that are naturally white are combined with gold to give it an appearance that’s more like silver than its natural sunny hue.
Types of Alloys for White Gold
In the United States, nickel is most commonly combined with gold to produce a white color; however, palladium is also used as a hypoallergenic alternative to nickel, and is utilized in much of the white gold jewelry produced inEurope. Other metals that are sometimes present in white gold include zinc, tin and platinum.
The addition of these other metals to pure gold not only alters its color; it also makes it durable enough to be practical for jewelry. On its own, gold is fairly soft; however when it’s used as the main component in an alloy it becomes a much stronger material that is able to stand up a bit of wear and tear.
Rhodium Plating White Gold
Rhodium plating is another essential step in how white gold is made. Rhodium is an extremely hard and very precious metal with a bright, shiny, chrome-like finish. While rhodium is too difficult to work with to be used to create jewelry on its own, it’s an excellent plating material and is used to add a lustrous finish to white gold jewelry. Over time, this plating can wear away, causing white gold to lose some of its reflectiveness and brightness, but white gold can be re-plated to restore its original finish.
White Gold History
White gold can be traced back to chemists in 18th-Century Germany, but it first appeared in its modern form in the early 20th Century. By the 1920s, the question “How is white gold made?” could be answered in much the same way as it is today, although rhodium plating didn’t catch on until decades later. White gold was popularized as a more affordable alternative to platinum, which was a common but costly metal used in jewelry.
Today white gold is wildly popular, even if many people can’t answer the question “How is white gold made?” While this metal doesn’t occur in nature, it’s a natural star in the jewelry world.
Category: Jewelry Guide