Nikki Stark Jewellery

White Metals

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I have recently quoted on a lot of white gold wedding rings, and very often the answer to my question 'Is your ring rhodium plated?' is 'what is that?' so I decided it was time to share some information on white metals.                                                                           
Platinum and 9ct white gold rings
      
White Gold: 
Gold, for the sake of clarity, is yellow, very very yellow. 9ct and 18ct white gold are a mix of yellow gold and other metals, with the aim of creating something white.                                                                                                                                                    

Neither alloy is particularly bright white so the white gold seen in most shops is plated in rhodium, this is a very bright shiny white (more like silver). As it is plate (a thin layer placed over the solid metal.) this will wear through and need to be replaced on a regular basis. Underneath the plate 9ct and 18ct white gold are very different.

9ct white is a soft, warm white. it's a very flattering colour and a warmer alternative to silver. 9ct gold can tarnish over time if not worn, but this isn't an issue if pieces are for everyday wear. 

18ct white gold often contains palladium, and without the rhodium is a similar colour to platinum or palladium but with a browner tinge.

As standard I do not plate my white gold, in particular I have found 9ct white is a very popular option for wedding jewellery as it's such a flattering colour for a white metal, much gentler than the other options.

Personally I think if you are considering 18ct white gold you should look at palladium, which is slightly less expensive and doesn't require the plating. However as palladium is quite new it isn't as widely available as white gold. 

Platinum:

Although platinum is now popular for jewellery and easily the most expensive option it's properties were not well understood until quite recently.

Platinum is a very dense and inert metal, very scientific sounding but it means that the metal is tougher and wears less than gold, and also that it doesn't tarnish in air as silver does. It is a good, although expensive option for wedding bands as it lasts very well.

Platinum is very rare and only a small amount is mined every year, so depending on industrial needs the price can be quite volatile. 

Platinum is so tough it can wear through other metal if placed next to it, so it isn't generally advised to wear a gold band next to a platinum ring. 

Palladium wedding rings

Palladium:

Palladium is a similar metal to platinum, although less dense and easier for jewellers to work with it has similar properties. 

Discovered in 1802, palladium is relatively new to the jewellery market, although it has been used for some time to make white gold. The UK Assay Office (See my gold, carats and colours page for a bit more info on hallmarking.) have introduced hallmarking for palladium in the last few years.

Palladium at the moment is less expensive than platinum, with a very similar look so is a good option for heavier bands which could be prohibitively expensive in platinum. 

Palladium is sold in the UK in 2 different purities, 950 and 500. 950 is simply 95% palladium and 500 is 50%. Not everywhere advertises which version they are selling so if you are comparing prices it's important to be clear which version you are being offered, There will be a difference in the durability of the 2 different versions.

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Comments


  • Hi Merenia,

    As far as I am aware platinum is always the same colour, a cool, quite dark steely colour. It does come in different fineness levels but this is mostly to do with cost, and the lower alloys have higher amounts of cheaper metals. This isn’t always advertised, as with the palladium 950 and 500.

    Palladium and platinum are exactly the same colour, it isn’t really possible to see the difference. At the moment it’s quite limited in supply, I can’t buy anywhere near the variety of sheet or wire weights from my suppliers which I can get in more popular metals which does limit the designs I can produce in it. I would love to add a small stone set ring to my range but at the moment I can’t get the materials.

    I do understand the reservations some jewellery have about platinum, I can only produce delicate items in it because basically my blow torch is too small and doesn’t produce the heat required for larger amounts of the metal. In the tiny space I work in this is a necessary restriction for safety reasons.

    Nikki Stark on
  • So interesting to learn about the colour shades of ‘white’ metals. What ‘colour’ does platinum have? My platinum wedding and engagement rings seem very cool white – is that correct in general? And are there different carats or alloys for platinum?

    Really interesting about palladium as amnewcomer alternatve to gold alloys and platinum. I found jewellers quite reluctant to work in platinum for an engagement ring because it’s so hard – my husband, an architect designed a simple solitaire idea but not many very keen to do a bespoke platinum ring in Sydney a decade or so ago. And I was quite keen for a hard wearing metal being an engagement ring – wearing it for life and all…. So although we aren’t hung up on getting a ‘name’ brand we ended up getting a Tiffany platinum solitaire instead. Perhaps palladium will give that happy in between option now!

    Merenia on

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