Chemical symbol: Au
Atomic number: 79
White gold is one of our best-sellers, particularly for diamond-set rings - the beautiful white colour is often considered to provide a better backdrop for diamonds than yellow gold. White gold was first used in jewellery in the 1920s, closely following the popularity - and rarity - of the similarly coloured platinum.
18ct white gold from Wedding Rings Direct contains 75% gold. The rest is primarily palladium and a little silver. The exact proportions can vary depending on which supplier we use. Our 9ct white gold contains 37.5% gold, with the rest of the alloy containing mostly silver and perhaps a little nickel. Some people have concerns about allergic reactions from nickel in jewellery but, in the case of white gold, the rhodium plating will help prevent this from happening. Anyhow, the proportions used are extremely low. All of our jewellery containing nickel will have passed the nickel release test.
As gold is normally yellow, the white sheen is achieved by alloying the gold with another metal such as nickel, palladium, platinum or silver; and then plating the ring with rhodium. The more gold that is contained in the alloy, the more yellow the 'white' gold will appear in colour, meaning that 18ct white gold is naturally more yellow than 9ct. This is why white gold rings are traditionally plated with rhodium - to get the whitest possible finish. Rhodium also helps protects the ring from wear and tear - if silver is used in an alloy, it could become tarnished by the air, and rhodium is more resistant. Click here for more information on rhodium plating.
Like anything, white gold will develop small scratches. These will be most noticeable at first, but will fade over time to a more pleasing patina. If the ring picks up any surface dirt, you can rinse this off under cold water and dry the ring carefully with a soft cloth.The shine of the ring may dull from contact with detergents, moisturiser and soaps so even a quick buff with a soft cloth will improve the appearance of the ring.The rhodium plating will wear off over time, but this should happen gradually and fairly evenly. If the ring becomes too yellow for your liking, you can send it back to us for re-plating.
Since the 1920's white gold has been fashionable in jewellery as a more affordable alternative to platinum. This trend is particularly evident in art deco jewellery. White gold is currently the most popular precious metal within the UK. During World War II, the use of platinum and nickel were prohibited outside the military. Palladium white gold alloys then became standard, and after the war, the cheaper alloys containing nickel prevailed. Nickel is no longer allowed to be used in jewellery due to the high amount of allergic reactions.