White Gold: What It Is & Common Styles

White gold engagement rings.
White gold engagement rings.

What is white gold? This popular precious metal is a mixture of materials. In fact, the gold mixture is not always the same. Learn more about white gold to find out if it is a good jewelry choice for you.

History of White Gold

White gold first became popular in the 1920s. Platinum was still the preferred precious metal for jewelry settings. However, many people could not afford authentic platinum jewelry. White gold was introduced as an affordable alternative to platinum. White gold resembles platinum so closely that it is hard to tell the difference.

Over the years, white gold jewelry had highs and lows of popularity in fashion. It became popular again in the 1990s for all types of jewelry including engagement rings. Today it remains a classic choice for engagement and wedding jewelry.

What Is White Gold?

White gold has a bright white color that is comparable to platinum. The metal is mixture of gold with other materials.

White Gold Composition

So what is white gold? Is it gold? White gold always contains authentic yellow gold but the other metals in the mixture vary. The metal mixture usually contains palladium or nickel. Since most metals are a shade of grey and gold is naturally yellow, the metal mixtures are used to whiten the yellow. The resulting white gold alloy usually still has a yellowish tinge. Jewelers use rhodium plating over the white gold to create the sparkling white color associated with the precious metal. The rhodium plating tends to wear off over time and needs replacement every few years.

There is one exception. W.R. Cobb and Company created a patented white gold that does not require rhodium plating, Precise White Gold. The company claims that Precise White Gold jewelry does not ever lose its original color and shine. The Precise White Gold products also do not contain any nickel.

White Gold and Nickel Allergies

Many people are unaware that white gold may contain nickel. In the USA, nickel is a common ingredient in white gold jewelry because it is cheaper than palladium. However, in Europe nickel is banned for use in jewelry due to the high incidences of nickel allergies. Instead of nickel, jewelers use palladium in white gold. The possible nickel content may be a cause of concern for people with nickel allergies. Fortunately, some jewelers let customers know whether or not a white gold jewelry item contains nickel. If you have a nickel allergy, ask about nickel content before buying any piece of jewelry.

Types of White Gold Jewelry

Due to white gold's popularity, you can find just about any jewelry design. There are many pendants, necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets in both ornate and simple elegant styles. Here are some of the many white gold jewelry designs available:

  • Heart locket
  • Celtic knot bangle
  • White gold and diamond dangle earrings
  • Circle pendant

White gold ring styles include:

  • Two-toned white gold and yellow gold wedding band
  • White gold channel setting anniversary band
  • White gold pave setting diamond engagement ring
  • White gold bezel setting diamond engagement ring

Where to Buy White Gold Jewelry

White gold jewelry is easy to find locally and on the Internet. The Internet is a good source for unusual ring styles or discount jewelry. The following websites sell white gold jewelry:

  • Zales: The Zales jewelry collection includes a large selection of white gold engagement rings and wedding bands in both ornate and simple designs.
  • Golden Mine: Golden Mine offers many classic and modern style white gold engagement rings, wedding bands and other types of jewelry.
  • Rothem Collection: Rothem Collection has a number of white gold rings, including an elegant two-toned white and yellow gold engagement ring.

White gold rings are a great option for someone seeking an alternative to traditional yellow gold. The precious metal may also suit people who wear a lot of silver jewelry and want to their wedding jewelry to blend in with those pieces. Admirers of platinum will appreciate white gold's price. The possible nickel content may discourage some buyers. However, white gold will always have a following due to its beauty and practicality.

White Gold: What It Is & Common Styles