An elegant and aesthetically pleasing alternative to traditional yellow gold is white gold. Today, we have seen a drastic increase in the demand for white gold but not many know what white gold truly is when it comes down to the alloy combinations, nor do many know from where its sparkling pristine color comes.
The color of a gold alloy (any karat) is determined by the distribution of colors in the light reflected from its surface. The way we go about creating white gold is by taking the silver in the traditional gold-copper-silver-zinc compositions used for 14 Kt. yellow gold and replacing it with nickel. The presence of nickel and zinc in white gold together effectively reduce the yellow and red hues reflected by gold and copper in this combination. Unfortunately, this method is nowhere close to 100% efficient and despite the reduction in the red-yellow color, some reds and yellows are still visible.
This is true for all white gold pieces regardless of whether the white gold is a nickel white gold or a palladium white gold. Many prefer to rhodium-plate their white gold jewelry to achieve a more brilliant white appearance; rhodium being a platinum group metal has the appearance of a pure white metal. But by no means is a rhodium finish impervious to the effects of wear and abrasion, and its brilliant white appearance may fade if worn every day.
To limit wear and tear of rhodium plating, we recommend that you avoid bringing your rhodium-plated jewelry into contact with household cleansers, gardening substances, that could quickly destroy the rhodium platinum, thus exposing the slightly yellow tint. Talc, which is found in many cosmetics, is also known to have an abrasive effect on jewelry. Limited contact with these substances would help preserve the plating for longer durations of time.
Just so you know, the color of 14 Kt. And 18 Kt. white gold naturally has an extremely light yellow tinge to it. This hint of yellow could intensify over time and with increased wear. In order to counter this naturally occurring patina, and to complement the brilliance of fine diamonds, it is customary to apply a decorative rhodium electroplate finish to white gold jewelry pieces.