White gold is beautifully elegant and fashionable. Portraying a shiny silvery tone, it makes a lovely alternative to both yellow gold and other white metals such as silver, platinum and palladium.
Gold is naturally yellow and too soft to be crafted into jewellery, so it is mixed with other more durable metals to make a stronger alloy and possibly an alternative colour. To create a silver tone, white gold is alloyed with gold and one (or more) white metals, with nickel, magnesium and palladium being the most common.
First made fashionable in the 1920’s with art deco, white gold jewellery is an affordable alternative to platinum and is tarnish free, making it an ideal material to complement diamonds and other gemstones. White gold is particularly popular for engagement rings, wedding rings and eternity rings.
The colour of white gold is dependent on the amount of pure yellow gold and other metals used to create the alloy. Read our guide on Gold Carats Explained.
The contemporary version of white gold is often enhanced by rhodium plating. Rhodium is a metal from the platinum group that is naturally silver and beautifully bright. Almost all white gold is electro plated with rhodium to hide any staining or browning from the alloying process and to ensure white gold always has a shiny white, polished finish.
Over time, rhodium plating can wear away or scratch if it is repeatedly in contact with other hard items, this varies with the type of jewellery. Earrings for example, are unlikely to come into contact with anything which will wear the plating, but engagement or wedding rings may show signs of wear.
If you find your rhodium plating has worn away slightly, bring it into any H.Samuel store, where we can arrange for it to be re-plated. For more information read our Caring For Your Jewellery Guide.
Even when white gold is rhodium plated, white gold will still be hallmarked in the same way as other gold, ensuring its purity and fineness.