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14k White gold alloy


#1

Hello Orchidians;

Yesterday a customer brought in a 14k white gold ring which needed a
small solder at the back of the shank. The ring was beautifully
white, so much so that all of us assumed that it had been rhodium
plated and warned the customer that the soldering would mess up the
plating and talked about replating and all of that.

But we soldered it and there was no discoloration of any kind! The
client said that the ring had been purchased by her mom many years
ago at an estate sale. My question is, what is the alloy? Any
ideas?

Thanks in advance,
Janet


#2

Rhodium is a cover up for low-grade white gold.

Pure gold can only absorb so much nickel then any excess nickel
won"t dissolve into the mix.

Hence 18K white gold would be brighter than 14K white gold if it has
the right percentage of nickel content. It also cannot be melted
more than once and must not be over heated as the nickel gets burned
and that is what causes the gold to be brittle.

A rich nickel mix is also very finicky to work with.

One must be very knowledgeable in the melting of white gold. That is
why you don’t see much of the right stuff. It is easier to use low
grade and cover it up with rhodium and everybody accepts it as the
norm.

Now you know why most avoid the trouble and use the low-grade

And cover it up with rhodium

A good white gold mix 14K or 18K should be able to be twisted
without cracking and bright too no rhodium needed.

I’m sure you have all noticed that all the best things seem to be
yesteryear no matter what it may be, (food or product) in the stores
when you see something good you can be sure it will be discontinued.

Allan Creates
superringfit.com
P.F.F. Hinged ring Shanks
www.superringfit.com


#3

Most of those of us who have been doing repairs for decades have run
across these alloys. They aren’t typical of the alloys which are
favoured by today’s manufacturers, but I don’t believe that there
was any sorcery going on when they were produced.

It’s all a matter of dollars and cents. They were formulated to
replace platinum as a jewellery metal when platinum was deemed a
"strategic metal" during wartime, and the cost wasn’t really an
issue…the carefully-produced alloys were less expensive then the
platinum, and penny-pinching wasn’t an issue.

Our modern-day refiners have long been pitching alloy formulas which
cast easier, are easier to set stones into, but the colour leaves
much to be desired. The answer? Rhodium.

I have serviced white gold rings such as the one you have described,
where the metal was soft enough to be moderately pliable without
cracking, the settings intact and modifiable, and the finishing
following repair a breeze.

As for the formulation, your guess is as good as mine. Probably a
gold/palladium/silver/nickel mix, where all of the positive
attributes of the metals combine to create a very workable alloy
which is stable and remains white indefinately.

Back to dollars and cents, or, possibly sense.

The alloys with the negative characteristics cost less. They are
idiot-proof for casting, and anybody with a bow-drill and pliers can
set stones with the stuff. Rhodium plating hides the penny pinching
and lack of media-specific skills.

Or does it?

Many shops which use rhodium as a final finish on white alloys
subject their employees to hazardous proceedures and contact with
fmoist umes from heated, evaporating cyanide. I have been one of
them. I will not put my own employees through the multiple stages of
hell that I have had to endure during my employment years, rhodium
being one of them.

So, I choose to use high-white gold alloys which have superior
characteristics, but require specific handling in order to remain
workable. They cost more, but there are no negative consumer issues,
and it’s the the consumers who pay my bills. Pretty simple math. No
disappointment 3D preserved profits and steady growth.

If you’re not using a high-white alloy for your projects because it
costs more, you should really think about the dollars you spend
downstream on additional, repetitive service, and the risks to your
health or that of your associates from the noxious nature of the
chemicals. The stuff is unregulated, worse than asbestos, and it’s
almost everywhere that jewelley is produced. It’s time that we all
moved on.

David Keeling
www.davidkeelingjewellery.com


#4
One must be very knowledgeable in the melting of white
gold. That is why you don't see much of the right stuff. 

So are you saying that a higher, or “right percentage” of nickel
content in white gold can be considered “the right stuff”?

It is easier to use low grade and cover it up with rhodium and
everybody accepts it as the norm. 

When you say "Its easier to use low grade and cover it up… " what
do you consider low grade? A nickel free white alloy, such as
palladium? I am aware of other no or “low” nickel alloys that may
be a bit off of the bright high nickel white, but I would have to
consider them superior to high nickel alloy in aspects of not only
your customers health to reduce the chance of developing nickel
dermatitis, but the poor stone setter’s frustrations and metal
workability.

Also I was wondering if you could explain how the excess nickel does
not “dissolve into the mix”, I am a little confused about what you
mean. Why can’t you melt it more then once?


#5

There are some 14K alloys that are very white and malleable in the
marketplace today. For instance, the 14K X-1 White Gold at Stuller
is a grade 1 white color, and is almost as white as platinum, and is
both castable and malleable. However, this alloy is harder than
standard low-nickel white alloys. It takes more force to bend, but
it’s not brittle like many high-nickel alloys…

James Gilbert
Stuller, Inc
800-877-7777


#6

I use palladium alloy from Stuller for my white gold. It’s very
beautiful and easy to work with. Yes it’s a little pricey but well
worth it. stuller # is ca17 #203. I don’t work there, I just love
their palladium alloy.

Amy


#7

Concerning 14K white gold alloy, I swear by David Fell’s “Soft
White” 14K alloy. It is extremely white, so it doesn’t need to be
rhodium plated, and although harder than a 14k yellow alloy, it is
relatively easy to roll and draw, solders well, and polishes up to a
bright white surface. I’ve been using it for years, and so have my
students. Give it a try.

–Jay Whaley


#8

Hello,

High nickel content and high palladium content alloys have been
around a long time. You must have run across one. Modern metallurgy
has not made gold any whiter, just easier to deal with at high white
color. It used to be high nickel alloys were brutally hard, only the
best equipped manufacturers could stamp in this hard alloy. Some
did, like “Tiffany” style solitaires were common that were 18 or even
19 karat and very white. That alloy will make a bar for stamping but
not cast well.

Daniel Ballard
www.pmwest.us
800-999-7528


#9
  Concerning 14K white gold alloy, I swear by David Fell's "Soft
White" 14K alloy. It is extremely white, so it doesn't need to be
rhodium plated, and although harder than a 14k yellow alloy, it is
relatively easy to roll and draw, solders well, and polishes up to
a bright white surface. I've been using it for years, and so have
my students. Give it a try. 

I Use David Fell’s 14k white alloy as well-- but I use their “Winter
White”. A little higher in nickel, but it is very white. I forge,
roll and form it from shot. It can be tricky to roll, but the key is
to thoroughly work it 'tween annealings and quench it at "black"
heat-- about 600-700 f, when it loses it’s red glow-- in denatured
alcohol. All the usual warnings and disclaimers here. Never keep the
alcohol jar near the flame, never quench while at red heat etc. This
works for me and should only be tried with care and professional
deportment.

Andy


#10

my suggestion to the problem is acid testing the content. you can buy
a gold testing kit to check the alloy content of the metal from
pretty much any tool supply company. follow the chart included and
use deductive reasoning

good luck
Andrew


#11
One must be very knowledgeable in the melting of white gold.
That is why you don't see much of the right stuff. 

Yes the fine gold content of what you use is the final determination
of the volume of nickel that can be absorbed in the mix. Hence 18K
would have a higher volume of fine gold and that would allow you to
add a greater percentage of nickel to it and it would be brighter
and whiter than 14K white.

So are you saying that a higher, or "right percentage" of nickel
content in white gold can be considered "the right stuff"? 

Yes good hard strong prongs bright and white, and strong shanks that
don’t deform easily.

Not for bead work, you have seen platinum prongs bent if not done
right. (too thin for the length they are.)

Pure gold is like a sponge and will only accept so much nickel then
it doesn’t absorb it any more.

You could never add a little gold to a large amount of nickel. Like
the silver recipe in reverse couldn’t be done. 2% gold and 98%
nickel.

Silver is the same but worse, I have tried to go over 2 % nickel to
harden it up for my silver sample mechanisms but that was the limit.
Pure gold is better as you can get more nickel into it. It has a
better sponge effect.

It is easier to use low grade and cover it up with rhodium and
everybody accepts it as the norm. 

Yes as the suppliers are always trying to supply metal that the
casters can re melt many more times without cracking, they reduce
the nickel content to borderline percentages (Not true white) to
keep it tender to accommodate the trade. (Hackers white… Get out
the rhodium.)

Yellow never cracks as there is no nickel in it, unless you
contaminate it and I have seen some bad yellow too in my time.

Nickel is the culprit (Or it can be your friend if you know how to
handle it) as it becomes dry and brittle after the second melt (And
the second melt consists of half fresh and half old scraps from the
first melt) and nobody enjoys the stress.

Back in the 1960’s Johnson Matthey would refine 18K white gold for
10 cents a dwt. so after the second melt they would use fresh gold.
Cost was not a deterrent at 10 cents a dwt…

Today the cost of everything is prohibitive and everybody is trying
to cut corners.

The other soft whites are fine for bead work, but I always prefer
the strong nickel white for prongs. And as I make mechanisms I need
the old high quality, soft is not for me as my prongs don’t bend if
you knock the ring.

You do as you like but this is how I do it for the last 45 years.
This was in reply to the comment that she was in wonder at the nice
white sizing that amazed her not needing rhodium plating, and a good
18K white is pliable too even though it is hard

To do fancy work I use platinum, and install my P.F.F. Ring Clasps
mechanisms in 18K high grade white gold without rhodium and have
never had a problem. So there=85

Yes there is a place for all the other alloys especially for bead
work where you can’t get the platinum price.

They were made available as a poor man’s platinum look.

The only thing to add to my clasps when finished installing is oil.

See example of what I am talking about.

http://www.superringfit.com/examples/examples_01.html

Allan Creates
superringfit.com
P.F.F. Hinged ring Shanks


#12
This works for me and should only be tried with care and
professional deportment. 

OK, Andy. I can handle the “care” part. But c’mon. Deportment? Not
sure I can do that one… Are there any allowable substitutes? (grin)

Peter


#13

by the way, and this is only ment to be advise, not an
advertisment. I use pmwest #3 and it casts extremly well and is
fairly soft if allowed to cool to room temp before devesting.

Robert L. Martin
Goldsmith/platinumsmith
Diamond setter
since 1976


#14

The discussion is quite interesting. However, it does raise a
relevant question.

Are there any no-nickel alloys out there which would

  1. offer a high-white color and

  2. be easy to work with during the manufacturing process?

This question is pertinent because a lot of countries require that
the gold sold there should have very low or no nickel content.

Rasesh.
Mumbai, India.