There are so many different types of that sleek metal that is seen as a symbol of opulence—gold. But there’s yet another type of gold that often goes unnoticed, especially in the world of jewelry and accessories.
That metal is white gold, arguably one of the more popular materials used in jewelry production and manufacturing. However, white gold has many similarities in its physical appearance to some other metals, making it unrecognizable to those with an untrained eye.
White gold is one of the most brilliant materials that can be used to craft chains, watches, bracelets, and even rings. But what exactly is it, and how is white gold made?
Origins of White Gold
Gold has a literal and metaphorical rich history, with ancient Egyptians donning solid gold necklaces, wristlets, and headdresses tosymbolize wealth. Jewelry maintained this opulent symbolism through time, gaining more traction during therise of hip hop in the late 70s and 80s.
Most jewelry symbolized wealth because only the richest members of society had access to the rare metals used to make it. One of particular note was platinum, which was a material often used in earlier forms of jewelry manufacturing. Platinum has a striking visual component, and since itsrarity is even higher than that of gold, owning a piece of platinum jewelry is proof of economic prowess.
However, the commercialization of jewelry caused the masses to want platinum pieces (or at least pieces thatlookedlike platinum). This was when white gold was born. It looks and feels just like platinum; however, it comes at a small percentage of its price.
What Is White Gold Made Of?
To make a more affordable version of platinum, you need a more affordable metal. Although gold is still rare and expensive, it does not come at the same price as many other metals because it is more abundant by comparison.
Gold by itself takes on a brassy, yellow-ish appearance that looks nothing like platinum. To better imitate it, white gold is created by combining pure gold with another metal alloy, usually nickel or zinc.
A common white gold alloy contains about 75% gold and 25% of one of these other metals. It’s important to note that white gold still uses pure gold in its composition, but since gold is not naturally white, a percentage must be devoted to another material.
Gold alloys are measured in karats to describe the amount of gold in a given piece. 24k gold is the highest quality, meaning that 100% of its composition is made of the pure metal. It’s impossible for white gold to be 24k because at least some percentage must come from other metals. A common marking on white gold jewelry is 18k, meaning that the accessory is composed of about three-quarters gold.
A lower karatage doesn’t necessarily denote a lower quality piece. It only defines the amount of pure gold within the jewelry itself. White gold can become a bit more durable than regular gold when combined with certain alloys.
What Types of Jewelry Are Made of White Gold?
Because white gold is just as versatile and malleable as pure gold, it can be used on nearly any type of jewelry imaginable.
Gold and white gold chains are a staple of the hip hop genre, having since made their way into mainstream fashion as a way to freshen up a look.White gold chains look especially sleek, with the platinum-like finish that says prestige and splendor.
Many rappers that you’ve seen donning bling are probably buying some of the purest white gold you possibly can. This means that their chains are probably made of a solid white gold alloy and nothing less. These are expensive, with some white gold chains costing tens of thousands.
To make their elegant appearance more accessible, gold plating has become a common technique for giving jewelry that white gold polish. It looks and feels just like solid white gold, only it comes at an affordable price.
Gold plating works by laying a thin coating of the gold alloy over top of a sturdy base metal, such as stainless steel or sterling silver. This dramatically lowers the price without sacrificing quality or appearance—you’d never be able to tell the difference.
While a chain on its own will look good, you can spruce them up even more by adding on your favorite pendant. White gold loves to be paired with equally metallic items, so definitely find a medallion made of white gold or covered with diamonds.
Chains can look similar across the board, but picking the right pendant will accentuate your white gold. You can make things extra personal or sentimental bycustomizing your pendant so that you truly look one of a kind.
The metallic sheen of white gold on a watch’s face is mesmerizing, and it will undoubtedly get you some compliments.
White gold watches look best if they are encrusted with gems. Since watches have so much surface area to work with, an embellished watch is one of the best accessories if you want your white gold to pop.
Similar to watches, there’s really nothing better than a bracelet made from white gold. Because of the malleability of the metal, you can find some exceptionallyintricate designs that look unique but still feel comfortable.
Bracelets will look especially stylish if you wear them in addition to somewhite gold rings. As any respected hip hop legend will tell you: the more, the better.
How to Take Care of White Gold Jewelry
When you make an investment in white gold, you want to be sure that your piece will last just as long as the never ending trends. For white gold jewelry, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.
Metals dislike harsh chemicals, so be sure to remove your white gold before hopping in the pool, ocean, or using heavy-duty cleaners. These might corrode the metal or strip away the gold plating, exposing its base metal.
Also, storing your jewelry in a dark, dry, and safe space is a necessity if you want to get the most out of each piece. Use a box or drawer, being sure to keep each piece separate so that they do not ding or scratch each other.
However, since jewelry is meant to be worn, you’re going to have a bit of grime build up no matter how well you take care of your favorite jewels. If you feel like it might need a cleaning, it’s easy and won’t take long at all.
Rub the piece with a lint-free cloth to remove any solid dirt particles and polish it up. You may also decide to use a soft-bristled toothbrush to get into small crevices that a towel might not reach. This is perfectly fine; just be sure to use a soft-bristled brush so you don’t scratch the metal plating.
You can also purchase a cleaning kit directly from the jeweler that you got your piece from. This will ensure that you’re getting the best clean possible without damaging your jewelry.
White gold has a history that has helped to cement it as one of the most pristine-looking metals to be used in jewelry. Since it’s made of real gold combined with other metals, it takes the best qualities of pure gold with some other great qualities in its alloys.
White gold looks especially great in chains but can look exceptional on a watch, pendant, or bracelet. And since taking care of white gold is extremely easy, you can have confidence that you’ll be looking stylish for years to come.