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White metals are popular choices for wedding bands, engagement rings, and other types of jewelry.
The top ones that come to mind are silver, platinum, palladium and white gold.
White gold is a gold alloy with white metals. The most common white gold alloys are made of nickel, platinum, palladium, or zinc. This is not a color that naturally occurs in pure form. It is man-made.
And, 10k white gold is a common alloy jewelry producers prefer.
- Does 10K white gold turn yellow?
- Can I wear 10k gold in the shower?
- Does white gold scratch easily?
These are just three of the questions that come to mind when shopping for white gold jewelry.
In this post, you’ll find their answers and more!
What is white gold?
Gold is a precious metal that has a natural yellow color.
It is too soft to be made into jewelry, thus alloys with other metals are used.
This mix increases strength and durability.
However, this does not mean that your white gold jewelry should endure all sorts of outdoor activities and attacks from shampoos, lotions and pool chemicals like chlorine and bromine.
It is always a good idea to keep your white gold jewelry away from physical impacts of high adrenaline sports, gym sessions and garden work.
Even if it is rhodium plated, that is not an everlasting protection. Rhodium is brittle and impacts will decrease its lifetime.
It is also good practice to avoid chemical agents like detergents, body washes and substances added to pool water for hygiene.
White gold is an alloy with white metals. These are mostly zinc, nickel as they are not expensive and are abundant. And seldom, silver and palladium can be found in the composition.
White gold is often coated with rhodium.
There are 3 main benefits to the addition of this layer.
- First, it protects the gold core. Even though, white gold has increased hardness, it does not have titanium level strength and durability. There are many harder objects that may scratch it. This outer layer helps to avoid many potential scratches and offers longer use. Moreover, rhodium plating does not tarnish or rust. What can you further ask? More luster maybe? Check below.
- Second, it gives a more shiny uniform look. Rhodium is a pure metal with high reflectivity. It renders more twinkle and gives a homogeneous sheen.
- Last but not least, as it is a pure hypoallergenic metal, it offers a higher level of safety versus an alloy. It is extremely unlikely to cause any metal allergies for people with sensitive skin.
There are different purity levels for white gofld and one frequently used is 10k or 10 karat.
10k white gold has 41.7% gold content in its composition. It has 10 parts in 24 gold.
By definition, 24-karat white gold does not exist as it is a man-made alloy.
Top karats are 10k, 14k and 18k white gold.
You may find rhodium plated and non-plated items sold by retailers.
Which one is better? That’s a tough question that you can answer.
Rhodium plating has advantages that we described above.
But if you prefer gold and only gold, non-plated items are your pick!
10k White Gold Pros and Cons
10k White Gold Pros
- It is made of real gold.
- It offers a different color for gold lovers seeking variety.
- It is more affordable than similar 14k or 18k gold items.
- It is a malleable metal, a versatile material that can be made into jewelry with intricate details.
- It is hard enough for jewelry: it can withstand daily wear and tear.
- It is more scratch resistant than higher karat pieces or sterling silver.
- Rhodium plated white gold pieces are a very safe bet for not worrying about metal allergies.
10k White Gold Cons
- It has less than 50% gold purity.
- It is not a pure metal like platinum or palladium.
- It may contain nickel, which can cause skin irritation when the plating disappears.
- Assuming it is rhodium plated, it will demand re-plating when it wears off. In this case, you might observe a change in color towards yellow and a decrease in shine.
White Gold vs Platinum
Both white gold and platinum are precious metals that are used in jewelry. Platinum is a rarer metal than gold. It is also more expensive.
White gold is typically a mix of gold, zinc and nickel. As it is often rhodium plated, a change in color may occur when it diminishes even partially. This generates the need for re-plating to restore the initial twinkle and brightness.
On the other hand, platinum is a solid metal which does not have plating, generally. It asks for less care and maintenance.
White Gold vs Sterling Silver
Sterling silver is an alloy that contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals. The latter part is typically base metals like copper.
Sterling or 925 silver does tarnish.
Tarnish is the result of oxidation of silver with sulfur compounds in the air. It can also arise from the reaction of oxygen, but in a longer period.
Tarnish on silver is not something we want to see. It takes away the luster and gives sterling a dark color.
Happily, we can remove tarnish with various methods. There are commercial products and homemade DIY solutions to get rid of tarnish.
White gold, especially the rhodium plated versions, does not tarnish. Thus, they do not require such extra care.
Sterling silver is harder than fine silver but softer than white gold. So, it is more open to getting scratched by daily use and harder pieces in your jewelry box.
Conclusion: Is 10k white gold good for everyday wear?
10k white gold is made of real yellow gold.
It is mixed with white metals like zinc, silver or palladium. This operation increases strength and durability. This is why we are able to use the soft pure gold as jewelry. 24-karat gold, which is 100% pure, is too soft.
Had we made them into rings and bracelets, they would have easily lost their shape.
10k gold is 41.7% rich in gold content.
While it is less pure than 14k or 18k white gold, it is harder.
It offers more scratch resistance.
Many times, white gold rings and jewelry are coated with a thin layer of rhodium.
This plating protects the gold base and gives a uniform look.
On the downside, when the plating wears off, the necessity for re-plating will arise.
Though it is a simple process, it has to be done as the absence of plating will change color and reduce luster.
When compared to alternative white jewelry metals like platinum and sterling silver, we see that 10k white gold has both pros and cons.
It is cheaper than platinum and more expensive than silver.
Platinum is a high purity jewelry metal while 10k white gold is less than 50% of the precious metal.
It is more durable but lacks the fine details that white gold jewelry may have.
Sterling silver has a distinct shine, but it does tarnish.
White gold has a different shine but comes without the hassle of removing tarnish.
As we saw, each white metal has its own advantages and disadvantages. But in the end, it will come to your personal preference: there is only your right choice!