Articles / Learn About White Gold - The Other White Metal

White gold for jewelry has been popular since the 1920s as an alternative to platinum and, to a lesser degree, silver. More recently, white gold has seen a resurgence in popularity, as white metals have returned to the fashion spotlight.

Many people still consider white gold as the ideal setting for a diamond engagement ring, and the most elegant metal for a man's watch (especially for a pocket watch, chain and fob).

In its early years, white gold found favor mainly in the American South, but its appeal spread quickly, and white gold is today enjoying new popularity with those who prefer fashion-forward jewelry, as well as more traditional pieces.

In general, the whitest of white golds can be classified as "nickel white" or "palladium white," although yellow gold can be alloyed with many white metals to produce a lighter color. For best malleability, an alloy combining gold, nickel, silver, zinc, and copper is often used, but this usually produces a metal that is slightly off color. A tarnish-resistant rhodium plating is often added to give a whiter look.

Because some people are allergic to nickel, palladium white is becoming more common in Europe and in the U.S. Many American manufacturers will specifically note that their white gold is non-allergenic, or advertise that it's nickel-free.Because palladium is far more expensive than nickel, and harder to process, palladium white gold is more expensive than nickel white.

White gold is a popular choice in the bridal category. Its distinctive color - not quite as white as platinum but with a special richness all its own - makes white gold compatible with most gemstones. Diamonds, blue topaz and sapphires look especially handsome with white gold, and, of course, a mixture of white and yellow gold (perhaps with rose gold, as well) is a classic look for rings, necklaces and bracelets.

David WeissDavid Weiss

Graduate Gemologist, GIA
Certified Appraiser