What is white gold and how does white gold differ from
platinum? What is palladium?
An explanation of gold alloys
itself is a pure element and is naturally yellow. It is also
soft to hold up in jewelry. We need to alloy it - that is, to
with other metals to make it harder and more rigid for use in
Pure gold is 24 karat and, in an alloy, the parts out of 24
gold are said to be it's karat. So 14 karat gold is 14 parts
ten parts other metals or 58.5% gold. To make karat alloys of
gold, the other metals are silver and copper, a mixture which
the yellow color.
To make white gold, nickel or palladium are primarily used
the copper and silver blend. This makes the metal white, while
content lends it's tarnish resistant quality to the mix. The
still present in the same proportions as denoted by the karat
In both yellow and white gold alloys, small amounts of other
such as zinc are also present to improve workability and
Nickel white gold versus palladium white gold.
All white gold alloys are slightly off white compared to
silver. At Foxfire Jewelers we use a nickel white gold alloy
very white by international standards. It is much whiter than
commercially used white gold and the alloys used by most other
jewelers. We feel that it is important as it eliminates the
to rhodium plate (see rhodium plating below.)
Some people have an allergy to nickel which may result in a
wearing nickel white gold. In this case we can use palladium
which is white gold alloyed with palladium, a platinum group
Where nickel white gold alloys are slightly yellow, palladium
gold alloys will be slightly gray. Again we are using a
which is whiter than average.
In the end, the whitest nickel white gold is whiter than the
white gold currently, but new palladium white gold alloys are
development and we will use them if they prove to be better.
Platinum is a rare, pure precious metal that is naturally
color. It is alloyed with iridium, cobalt or ruthenium to
hardness for use in jewelry. Compared to white gold it is
subtly whiter. It is also more costly for several reasons: It
more than gold (so a ring will weigh more), the alloyed metal
90-95% pure platinum where 14 karat gold is 58.5% gold, so,
even though the spot price of Platinum is less than Gold, it
can equal or exceed the cost of a gold piece. It is also more
difficult to alloy and cast.
Platinum metal and parts end up costing us more than that of
gold. Labor however, while more than with gold, is not that
so the cost of a finished custom piece in platinum will be
approximately a little more than that of a white gold one.
Another aspect of platinum is durability. Because platinum is
softer than gold alloys it has excellent resistance to wearing
jewelry. On a microscopic level, platinum dents instead of
like white or yellow gold. While this makes platinum very
also means it dulls more quickly in wearing.
Palladium is a platinum group metal that acts alot like
itself, but is lighter weight and used to be less expensive.
It is hypo
allergenic, sturdy, long wearing and naturally very white. It
extensively during World War Two, when Platinum was scarce,
jewelers kind of forgot about it. It offers an excellent
jewelry as it's workable and beautiful. The Palladium alloy
Foxfire is 95% Pure. Unfortunately, since Palladium is now
used in catalytic Convertors, demand has made the metal more
costly than Platinum or Gold.
at the left
and 18K Yellow ring, Hand engraved, with Red Spinel.
Some jewelry manufacturers and even custom jewelers, faced
gold alloys that are anything but white, resort to
jewelry with rhodium. This is a platinum group metal that is
in it's solid form, but only in plating. White gold items
been rhodium plated pose problems in repair because the
bubble or flake when exposed to heat (soldering, sizing.) As
jewelry gets scratched and dull, it cannot be buffed without
the plating, which requires sanding and complete refinishing.
be problematic around prongs and in detailed areas. Leaving
plating can result in a line or seam showing.
At Foxfire Jewelers we avoid rhodium plating whenever possible
why we have taken the effort to use white gold alloys that are
as possible. These alloys require more care and expertise in
but we think they're worth it.
In an extraordinary turn of events, Rhodium is now $20,000. to
$25,000. per ounce. We do have Rhodium plating solution, so we
are able to re-plate your items as needed.