White Gold Explained

White gold a beautiful choice of metal to choose when making your engagement ring as it can emphasize the beauty of the white diamonds. White gold is real gold, but a white metal that looks almost like silver or platinum due to the white metals mixed with the natural gold and then dipped in rhodium.

So, what is white gold? How is white gold made? What are the advantages and disadvantages of white gold for your engagement ring?

What Is White Gold?

White gold is a mixture of pure gold with at least one other white metal. The metals used in white gold are typically platinum, palladium, silver or nickel. Nickel is the hardest and strongest alloy, but it can cause skin irritation to some wearers. At David Ashley, all our engagement rings are nickel free. Other metals in the alloy make the colour less golden adding strength and making the jewellery more durable and less prone to scratches.

White gold has all the same purities as natural gold when going to assay. Below are the most popular white gold purities used around the world when making an engagement ring:

  • 9-karat white gold contains 37.5% gold the stamp for this is 375
  • 14-karat white gold contains 58.5% pure gold and the stamp for this is 585
  • 18-karat white gold contains 75% gold and the stamp for this is 750

The karat rating refers to the percentage of gold in the alloy. White gold is not actually white until it is plated with rhodium. Rhodium is a process where jewellery is hanged into a liquid where electricity is sent through the liquid to make the jewellery white like platinum or silver which is naturally white. White Gold without the rhodium coating is a light yellowish colour. Very few people are sensitive or allergic to rhodium.

In the UK, all gold jewellery that weighs over 1 gram is hallmarked. This is a small stamp, somewhere on the piece that shows the article contains a certain purity of gold. White gold is the same value as yellow gold because both forms at any given carat rating have the same gold amount. The rhodium coating on white gold may make it slightly more costly than yellow gold due to the labour involved.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of White Gold in Jewellery

White Gold’s Advantages

  • White gold is the ideal choice for anyone who prefers the shiny silvery-white appearance over yellow or rose-coloured gold.
  • White gold has a similar appearance to silver and platinum but is harder wearing than silver and much less expensive than platinum.
  • White gold flatters diamonds, making them appear even more white.
  • White gold looks very good when worn by a person with white or rosy skin colouration.
  • Looks very similar to silver but will not tarnish and is more scratch-resistant.
  • Slight less labour intensive when creating an engagement ring

White Gold’s Disadvantages

  • The rhodium coating used on all white gold jewellery wears away over time, exposing the yellowish colour of the metal. Due to this, we recommend that you bring your white gold engagement rings or jewellery once a year or couple of years to be re-coated. The wear and tear of white gold may vary from person to person as it depends on the acidity in the skin plus general wear and tear. This is not an expensive process but is an ongoing expense and inconvenience if your jewellery is always to look its best!
  • Nickel is used as one of the components of most white gold. Some people have an allergic reaction to nickel in jewellery. This is not a problem unless the rhodium coating has begun to wear away. At David Ashley, all our engagement rings and jewellery are all nickel free.