White Gold Engagement Rings:
White gold is formed by combining pure gold with other metals, such as silver, nickel and/or palladium. Like yellow gold, white gold is measured in karats. 18k white gold is 75% pure gold combined with 25% other metals, and 14k white gold is 58.3% gold. White gold in its natural form is often light grey in appearance, so most white gold jewelry, including white gold engagement rings, will be plated with rhodium, a shiny, hard, white metal from the platinum family. This creates a whiter, more brilliant finish for white gold engagement rings.
White Gold Engagement Rings - A Little History
Many brides-to-be like the elegant look of a diamond in a platinum setting, and platinum was once a common choice for engagement ring settings. White gold engagement rings first became popular in the 1920s as a less expensive alternative to platinum. White gold looks very much like platinum - in fact, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between them - but a white gold engagement ring will cost considerably less than a platinum one. White gold is lighter and not as strong as platinum; however, since it contains less pure gold, white gold is stronger and more scratch resistant than yellow gold.
One advantage to white gold engagement rings is that they can blend in with any clothing color or other jewelry that is being worn. White gold engagement rings will complement both formal and casual attire. Another benefit is that a diamond set in a white gold engagement ring often appears whiter than it actually is, since the white metal is reflected into the diamond. This can be a helpful consideration for couples on a limited budget who cannot afford a perfectly white diamond.
A potential drawback of white gold engagement rings is their use of nickel as a blending metal, as it can cause allergic reactions such as swelling and itching on some people's fingers or hands (wherever skin comes into contact with the metal). This sensitivity should be particularly kept in mind when considering an antique or vintage white gold engagement ring, as nickel was more commonly used in earlier eras. Many white gold engagement rings made today do not contain nickel, which has been banned for use in jewelry in Europe. Palladium is often used now instead of nickel, but it is more expensive, so white gold engagement rings using palladium as an alloy might cost more.
White Gold Engagement Rings - Caring for Them
To properly care for a white gold engagement ring, remember to remove it before using any harsh chemicals or cleaning products, which can harm the gold. White gold can also become discolored or otherwise damaged by chlorine, so be sure to take off a white gold engagement ring before using a hot tub or swimming in chlorinated water. White gold engagement rings can be gently washed in a mixture of warm water and detergent-free liquid soap with a soft toothbrush. The rhodium plating on a white gold engagement ring naturally wears off over time, but re-plating can be easily done at most jewelers and is relatively inexpensive.