Lots of people think of white gold as a finer alternative to silver jewelry. Having a silver-colored gold is nice for those of us who prefer the silver color but want something more "special" or durable. So when we say "white gold" we usually think there's just one type, but it turns out that white golds aren't all made of the same stuff and there's a big difference between them. Here's some important things to know about your options when it comes to what type of white gold you choose.
White gold is a popular precious metal - and for good reason. It is often used for wedding sets and other fine jewelry. So when we say "white gold" we usually think there's just one type, but it turns out that white golds aren't all made of the same stuff and there's a big difference between them. Here's some important things to know about your options when it comes to what type of white gold you choose.
Traditionally, most jewelers and jewelry manufacturers have used nickel as the main alloy metal in white gold in order to whiten the yellow color of gold. The thing is, nickel has several downsides.
One of these is that it is an allergen for many people and causes rashes and irritation to skin. No fun at all to discover that your favorite new ring is giving you an awful rash! Another is that it is not able to whiten gold enough and so white gold jewelry pieces that have nickel as part of their content have usually been coated with rhodium to give them the characteristic color of platinum. The problem with that is that rhodium rubs off over time and needs to be re-plated every few years which means another trip to the jeweler and being without your ring for a week or so every 2-3 years. Also no fun!
Nickel also corrodes and cracks over time making it less able to withstand everyday wear over many years. It also reacts to chemicals in our environment such as chlorine and bromide which are in swimming pools and hot tubs as well as many cleaning products. I don't know about you, but I don't want to always have to remember to take off my jewelry before I swim or clean.
For many of these reasons, palladium has become more popular in recent years as an alternative to the nickel in white gold. Palladium has the upside of being hypo-allergenic so there is no worry of developing skin reactions to it. It is non-corrosive so it will not tarnish or react to other chemicals. It is also stronger and more durable than nickel, so that jewelry made format will last a lifetime without the need for periodic plating or repair for cracking. Who doesn't love that?
Palladium white gold is slightly more gray-white than nickel white gold as you can see in this photo (used with permission from Aide Memoire Jewelry).
Palladium is somewhat more costly than nickel so it adds some cost to the jewelry, but since it is a relatively small percentage of the total (around 10 percent) that additional cost is well worth the hypo-allergenic, non-corrosive and longer lasting characteristics of palladium white gold.
For these reasons, all Form and Funktion white gold pieces are made using palladium white gold. You can rest assured that the jewelry that you've purchased is made to last and enjoy for a lifetime.