General Question

syz's avatar

What is "white gold"?

Asked by syz (35649points) September 27th, 2007

I thought gold was gold – is white gold specially processed or have something added to it? Why is it more expensive?

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10 Answers

mirza's avatar

White gold is an alloy of gold and at least one white metal, such as silver or palladium. Like yellow gold, white gold is measured in karats. Its properties vary depending on the metals and proportions used. As a result, white gold alloys can be used for different purposes; while a nickel alloy is hard, strong and therefore good for rings and pins, white gold-palladium alloys are soft, pliable and good for white gold gemstone settings. The highest quality white gold is usually at least 17 karat, and made up of gold and palladium, and sometimes even trace levels of platinum for weight and durability, although this often requires specialized goldsmiths.

bob's avatar

Most white gold is rhodium-plated to give it a whiter appearance. After a few months (depending on wear) the rhodium wears off and reveals a duller white.

glial's avatar

Those cut and paste wikipedia skills rock!

mirza's avatar

wat would the world be like if someone hadnt invented Command/control + C and Command/control + V shortcuts ?

bob's avatar

Cut and paste for computer text editing was first invented by Lawrence G. Tesler (Larry Tesler) while working at Xerox Corporation Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in 1974–1975 [1].

A handful of keyboard sequences was chosen to control basic editing operations. These keys are located together at the left end of the bottom row of the standard QWERTY keyboard, and each key was combined with a control or special modifier key to perform the desired operation: Z to undo, X to cut, C to copy, and V to paste. These same key combinations were later borrowed by Apple, Microsoft, and others, and are widely used today in most GUI text editors, word processors, and file system browsers.

gulabau's avatar

“White” gold is not a variant of elemental gold. It is an alloy, a metallic mixture—gold with other metal or metals that result in a white appearance. Thus, you could never have 24 K (pure) white gold. White gold is often 12 karat, which means it is only about 50% gold.

White gold should not be significantly more expensive than yellow gold of the same karat designation. If a jeweler is telling you that, he’s messing with you.

White gold is generally more expensive than sterling silver but, unlike sterling silver, does not have a set and internationally standardized metal content. Sterling silver is silver mixed with copper and should have only trace amounts of other substances. White gold can have god-knows-what mixed in with it, including nickel which can cause itching, burning, and skin rash in sensitive people.

As sterling silver is inexpensive and less toxic than anything containing nickel, I always prefer it to white gold, except in windy coastal environments. In a few days, salt vapour from sea air can tarnish sterling silver more than months or years in the air of New Mexico would do.

A white gold alloy consisting of gold and silver is called electrum. It was valued by the ancient Egyptians more than purer yellow gold, because it tarnished less than pure silver, but was whiter and rarer, in Egypt, than yellow gold. Electrum does not resist corrosion so well as higher-percentage gold alloys, but it survives much better than pure silver and silver-copper alloys. Several electrum items are among the famous treasures of King Tut’s tomb. Unfortunately, electrum is not a commonly used term in the jewelry industry, so you cannot enter a typical store and confidently pick out a nickel and rhodium-free electrum ring or bracelet.

A good artisan jeweler, however, should be able to make electrum objects for you. Gold and silver alloys are easy to create. Harder electrum-like alloys containing a bit of copper as well are not so easy, but not difficult to concoct. Electrum without copper is flexible, soft, and easy to work. It is not good for setting very valuable stones in inconspicuous delicate prongs, as the prongs may deform with impact and allow the stone to slip; but it is very good for full bezels, and for any fairly bold, compact, or chunky piece of jewelry.

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