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Best white gold fabrication alloy


#1

I have been working in 14KY and 18KY gold with no issues, but have
some upcoming commissions that require white gold. In preparation, I
bought some RA13 (Stuller) alloy, made up some 14KW, and began to
fabricate a ring with setting. I was disappointing at the working
properties–it seemed harder to solder than the yellow alloys,
different surface tension when heated, showing different flow
properties to what I am used to (affecting ball making and casting),
and the white gold seemed to work harden faster, requiring more
annealing steps while drawing and rolling… I got the project done,
but found it more difficult than 14KY.

My primary concern is not whiteness, but workability. I can rhodium
plate if necessary. I am looking for a good set of white alloys that
I can cast and fabricate with, primarily 14KW, and occasional 18K
(although how white can 18K be?) I would appreciate knowing if
there’s a particular favorite choice among you, the readers.

I’d prefer Stuller’s products, as I do most of my dealings with
them, but if they do not have an easier working white, I will go to
other metal suppliers… Am located in Canada, and Stuller provides
an excellent local outlet service here (order by Friday noon, get on
Monday). Other larger USA firms like Hoover and Strong, RIo Grande,
etc., do not, to the best of my knowledge.

Thanks!
Joris
JorisArt.com


#2

The best white gold alloy, for workability and super white color in
my experience? 950 Palladium and pure gold! 18K- 75% pure gold, 25%
950 PD. 14K- 58% pure gold, 42% 950 PD. The 950 palladium itself
works great as an alloy for gold, and I prefer it to specially
formulated “palladium alloys for gold” I’ve tried…too hard to roll
or draw easily.

You just can’t beat how easy an 18k 950 PD white gold rolls out,
draws, solders, polishes, and the super white color. Forget rhodium
plating it, it’s so white you won’t need or want to plate it.

Jay Whaley


#3

Hi Jay!

My experience of palladium whites is the same, except that I describe
the color as either brownish, gray or gunmetal…

Andy


#4

Just out of curiosity, how are you guy hallmarking it?


#5
My experience of palladium whites is the same, except that I
describe the color as either brownish, gray or gunmetal.... 

The brownish alloys are low palladium alloys, less than 12% in 14k
alloys. Most commercial alloys are gold, silver, palladium and
copper. If it has 12 % or more Pd in 14k it looses the brown tone and
is a grey white color. Due to the high cost of palladium most
commercial alloys are made with much less palladium than Jay is
talking about, the highest I have found is the 12% Pd in 14k. The
other down side to high Pd alloys is they are quite soft, Jay is
saying that is a good thing. I am less inclined to agree as I like a
little tougher metal for resistance to wear and stone loss. I find
the 12% Pd alloy to be white enough and strong enough and given the
current cost of Pd and gold the lower Pd content is much more
affordable.

Jim

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#6

I agree, softness-wise, Jim. I have used both “high” and “low” PW’s.

Fell co makes a high 14k pw white and AAA makes a low. Fell’s is,
indeed, grayer --more gunmetal-- but I still see brown in both.

Happy 4th.

Andy


#7
Fell co makes a high 14k pw white and AAA makes a low. Fell's is,
indeed, grayer --more gunmetal-- but I still see brown in both. 

I have been using Fell’s 14k Pd white for years and don’t perceive a
brown tone to it. I must be less sensitive to that coloring than you
are.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#8
Fell co makes a high 14k pw white and AAA makes a low. Fell's is,
indeed, grayer --more gunmetal-- but I still see brown in both. 

Subject of color is rather difficult to address in non-technical
terms, but I am going to try it anyway.

If someone sees brown in any of white golds, it is not the fault of
the alloy, but a fault in polishing technique. Let me explain why it
is so.

The color of any object is a sum of diffused color, ambient color,
specularity of the object finish and surrounding surfaces,
reflectivity of the material comprising the object and reflectivity
of it’s surroundings, smoothness of the object, nature of light
itself, and frankly too many to list other attributes of diminishing
importance.

It is a mouthful of a statement, so let’s dissect it. What is
diffused color of the gold? The answer is very dark brown. Anybody
who does refining knows that. It is the color of the dark deposit on
the bottom of the glass. In this form gold does not reflect any
light, there is no ambient influences so the we can see it’s true
color.

When gold is shaped it starts to reflect light. The nature of
reflections is dependent of shape of an object. Fresnel equation
shows that reflectivity varies depending on the incidence angle,
which is another way of saying that it is shape dependent. It starts
been affected by ambient illumination. Amount of reflected light
depends on how smooth the surface is a.k.a. quality of polishing. All
this combines to create this bright yellow color that gold is known
for.

When gold is alloyed, part of the work of reflecting light falls on
alloying component(s). When dealing with castings, the inferior
crystalline structure is not conducive to good optical
characteristics. We know it as “difficult to polish”.

If surface is not polished well, the base color of the gold becomes
more visible, since there is not enough of the reflected light to
mask it. The answer to brown alloys is careful surface preparation
before polishing commences. Burnishing step is even more important
for white golds than for yellow alloys. In general, hand-fabrication
techniques leave metal in far better crystalline state and with far
better optical characteristics, so browning of alloys is rarely a
problem, unless preparation for polishing was inferior.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#9

Hi Christine,

Just out of curiosity, how are you guy hallmarking it? 

I hallmark as specified in the Australian standard.

Kindest regards Charles A.


#10
If someone sees brown in any of white golds, it is not the fault
of the alloy, but a fault in polishing technique. Let me explain
why it is so. 

Two points. First, the brownish tone of Palladium white golds, or
the “warm” tone of lower nickel white golds, or the sometimes very
white colors of some high nickel white golds, can be seen clearly
whether or not the metal is polished. It shows up in sanded metal
even more than in rough castings. While a very good polish on solid
fabricated dense metal tends to hide the color differences, holding
samples of two such alloys next to each other in good light will
always be visible to anyone with a good eye for color. Good polishing
helps, but cannot totally cure these differences.

Second, your description of how white golds or yellow golds or
metals get their various alloyed colors suggests that it works much
like simple mixing of pigment paints. That simply isn’t so. The
source of color in metals (or anything else, for that matter), even
pure metals, gets complex, involving the way photons and atomic
particles and crystal structures react with each other, blocking,
transmitting, and reflecting various wavelengths. It’s anything but
simple. Changing the crystal structure of the metal by dissolving two
metals together will change the color, but it’s not simple addition
and subtraction of the effects of the two or more metals individual
colors. If it were, you’d never be able to get a very white 18K
nickel white gold where the strong yellow color of the gold is
totally overwhelmed by the alloy, even though the alloy is partly
reddish copper, and substantially less than 25 percent nickel. Even
22K nickel white golds can be made so that the color of the gold is
almost totally masked…

While this does not affect or negate your statement that polishing
is a prime consideration in the apparent color of white golds (it
is), the complexity of the source of metal colors (just as in
gemstone colors, which are similar issues) deserves some mention.

Peter


#11

Leonid,

Subject of color is rather difficult to address in non-technical
terms, but I am going to try it anyway. 

You have a way of making everything seem too complex. If it walks
like a duck and makes the right noises guess what it is :slight_smile:

Colour perception is highly personal. Differences a friend doesn’t
see can give me fits.

jeffD
gmavt.net/~jdemand


#12
Second, your description of how white golds or yellow golds or
metals get their various alloyed colors suggests that it works
much like simple mixing of pigment paints. That simply isn't so. 

It suggest no such thing. Study of Fresnel equation should be
helpful.

The source of color in metals (or anything else, for that matter),
even pure metals, gets complex, involving the way photons and
atomic particles and crystal structures react with each other,
blocking, transmitting, and reflecting various wavelengths. 

So photon and atomic particles and crystal structures react with
each other ! Did you find that pearl of wisdom on the Web? Can you
give example of atomic particles which are capable of reacting with
photon. Also, can you explain the mechanism of how crystal
structures interact with these particles. I also very much interested
in the way they simultaneously block and transmit and reflect.
Awaiting explanation with great impatience.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#13

You make the assumption, Leonid, that I am polishing the various
white golds. I rarely, if ever, employ a high polish with my gold
work. And, in any case, color, to my eyes, is much more easily
observed in matte finished surfaces than in those that are highly
polished.

Andy


#14

It seems to me that the perceived color of the various jewelry
metals with their alloys is a highly subjective matter. Everyone sees
the colors differently, depending on light conditions, surface
finish, etc.

So why doesn’t someone come up with an objective metal color grading
system like GIA uses for diamond grading? If we had that, then the
subtleties of metal color could be categorized objectively, finally!

Jay Whaley


#15
You make the assumption, Leonid, that I am polishing the various
white golds. I rarely, if ever, employ a high polish with my gold
work. 

But that exactly the point. Polishing affect the color of the object.
When I started in this business, the finishing was separated in 3
stages: buffing, polishing, and coloring, which is the final stage to
bring alloy to proper color. This simple fact kind of fell into
obscurity.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#16

Leonid,

So photon and atomic particles and crystal structures react with
each other ! Did you find that pearl of wisdom on the Web? 

Sometimes I am amazed. I do believe that all would agree that a
primary purpose of Orchid is to further knowledge. Above all, I also
believe that it doesn’t have to be furthered in an adversarial
fashion. Yet constantly, a man of your knowledge, training and talent
takes a position in your posts that is not in the spirit of
harmoniously arriving at the heart of the issues.

Perhaps it is a cultural thing or perhaps it is just the written
word of the posts. I’m sure if I met you in person and we had the
opportunity to have an exchange I would you find you to be a most
interesting and likable gentleman. However, I often find your quest
to “one up” or to “prevail” with superior knowledge on these posts
becomes as a bit harsh and abrasive.

I am asking you to reread Peter’s input about the color of metal
alloys being complex and see if you can decide that what he is truly
saying is there is much going on which isn’t entirely predictable; in
part that he is describing the way the alloy forms and its resultant
surface structure will have a lot to do with the color we perceive it
to have.

Come on Leonid, let’s see your charming side instead of the other.

All the best,
j

J Collier Metalsmith
http://jlcollier.com


#17
It suggest no such thing. Study of Fresnel equation should be
helpful. 

I didn’t say you intended to suggest this. Only that it seemed to me
that a reader might come away with this impression.

The source of color in metals (or anything else, for that matter),
even pure metals, gets complex, involving the way photons and
atomic particles and crystal structures react with each other,
blocking, transmitting, and reflecting various wavelengths. 
So photon and atomic particles and crystal structures react with
each other ! Did you find that pearl of wisdom on the Web? Can you
give example of atomic particles which are capable of reacting
with photon. 

Oh C’mon, Leonid. Photons are energy, whether gamma rays, infra-red
rays, radio waves, or visible spectrum light, it’s all photons.
Photons react to all sorts of things. If they didn’t, they’d pass
through everything without being affected. That is a perhaps a good
definition of the elusive dark energy. IT, doesn’t seem to interact
that we can tell, other than with the effects of gravity. If it
interacted, we could see it. We can’t. Photons, on the other hand,
do. They get reflected by some things, absorbed by others, their
vibration directions twisted/polarized by yet others. Wouldn’t you
call these things interactions? How about a sunburn? if photons
didn’t interact with matter, we’d not be absorbing energy from UV
light in a manner that causes damage to cellular structures, ie a
sunburn. The heat from your torch that warms up your metal when you
solder, is infra red photons transferring energy to the atoms in your
metal, thus disrupting the crystalline structure of your metal when
it melts. Is this not an interaction?

Photons do indeed interact with other particles. Atoms can absorb
photons, reemitting the absorbed energy as other photons with
different wavelengths or energies (phosphorescence, fluorescence).
Some forms of radioactive decay involve atomic nuclei emitting a
photon as part of the decay process. Fusion reactions also do the
same (where do you think all that light from the sun comes from? It
started out as a ball of mostly hydrogen, not a ball of photons
waiting to come our way.

Also, can you explain the mechanism of how crystal structures
interact with these particles. I also very much interested in the
way they simultaneously block and transmit and reflect. Awaiting
explanation with great impatience. 

First, understand I’m not a physicist. I’m a goldsmith. (I did,
however, have one once-well-known physicists in the family…) So
don’t expect me to get all the fine nuances of how and why it works
just right. But the fact that these things do indeed happen is basic
high school physics, and I do remember those classes, even if they
were many years ago, and no doubt by now, way out of date. But
examples of blocking, and transmitting and reflecting all at the
same time (a beam of light, mixed frequencies, not all at once to the
same photon perhaps). But consider a beam of white light hitting, for
example, a transparent gemstone. Some of the light will be reflected
by the surface, some will enter the transparent material (this
governed largely by the angle of incidence versus the refractive
index of the material. That interaction is with the crystal
structure itself, I think (though I’m not sure) rather than
individual atoms. But the crystal is also visible to the eye, and not
merely by reflected light from the surface, but by light
returned/reflected from inside the gem. Thus we see it’s color in
reflected light. It has color because not all frequencies reflect or
absorb the same. Some are reflected, others may be transmitted
unchanged and unabsorbed, others may be absorbed totally, and some
frequencies will be polarized, and more. That the photons are
affected by the material (an interaction) even if transmitted and not
absorbed can be seen in the refractive index, and it’s consequences,
which can alter the direction of that light beam and it’s photons,
and do it in part by actually changing (slowing down) the speed with
which the light travels within that material. Again, an interaction,
wouldn’t you say? Interactions of photons with materials do not have
to involve direct impact of the photon with an actual atomic
particle, but certainly such events can occur, and do. If I recall
right (I’m not gonna go look it up) but certain types of radioactive
decay depend on photons being absorbed by an atom (In addition to the
better known types involving neutrons doing so) I could be wrong on
that one. But still.

Oh, and your question about simultaneously block, transmit, and
reflect? Um, that’s kind of basic quantum physics. Mr. Heisenburg’s
cat and all that. If a photon has the potential to take more than one
path, or interact in more than one way, or otherwise has “options”,
then quantum physics says that all these things happen
simultaneously, so long as one doesn’t try to find out which one
actually happened. Without an observation, all states are true, and
the observation itself determines which happened. I’ve probably not
worded that properly, and the physicists in the group (are there
any?) most likely cringed. But that’s the gist of it. The weird part
gets when you start looking at the implications in the larger world,
where the uncertainty principal still applies. I cannot, for example,
walk through a wall. Or can I? The math says that it’s not
impossible, only very very very (and a whole lot more very’s)
improbable…

In one probability, perhaps an alternate universe located right
here, same place, separated by some infinitely small dimension we
can’t detect, I just did walk through that wall.

And in anther, perhaps you’ll concede what I was talking about…
(grin)

But I agree that this is also highly unlikely and improbable.

Oh, and a suggestion. If you’re ever up in the evening not making
jewelry and looking for entertainment. tune into the Science channel
on Cable. Yeah, I know it’s all pretty dumbed down. But Morgan
Freeman does have an entertaining show called "through the wormhole"
that actually touches on physics in a way that’s not always totally
lame, and is still accessible to non scientists. Fascinating. That
field has moved way past anything my great uncle, Alfred Lande
imagined. (google him. Obscure for much of his later career, though
he was a respected physics professor at Ohio state, especially after
he refused, on moral grounds, to join Oppenheimer and crew on the
Manhattan project. He admitted it had to be done, but couldn’t
himself be part of it. I have wonderful memories of visiting him as a
child (I was the child, not him) and wondering what a neat job he
had, since he’d be sitting for hours on end out on his cabin porch
in summers, overlooking North Lake Michigan. Rocking chair, a couple
pads of paper, a glass full of pencils already sharpened, and a stack
of Lindt chocolate bars. Just sitting, thinking, writing… My aunt
used to tell us not to disturb him 'cause he was working. I thought
that must be the greatest sort of job in the world…)

Ah well. and in some other alternate universe, I’d be able to write
a short, sweet, concise Orchid post without ending up rambling on
with fond memories. But to the point, one of his more interesting
books (to me) was a short one which attempted to simplify, explain,
and illustrate the principals of relativity and quantum physics in
non mathematical terms. It was aimed at young people. It was my
introduction to the ideas of physics. I think I first read the thing
at about age 7… That I understood it, and it made sense, is more a
testament to my uncles writing than to any unusual ability on my
part, and don’t you dare ask me to recite any of the math associated
with any of that. Other than the famous E=MC2, I haven’t a clue. But
should I ever decide I need those equations, I know where to look.
For that, perhaps I WOULD start with Google (and then likely the
local university library itself)

Peter


#18

I believe that there is one for white golds, Jay.


#19
So why doesn't someone come up with an objective metal color
grading system like GIA uses for diamond grading? If we had that,
then the subtleties of metal color could be categorized
objectively, finally! 

It already exists it uses a colorimeter and the Lab colorspace (
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/y7 ) it is used to characterize the
yellowness of while gold and describe the other colored golds. It has
been in use for at least a decade to define colored golds MJSA and
the World Gold Council helped to set up the system. The problem is
that very few manufacturers bother to test and publish their alloys.
You can try asking your vendor for the Lab data some may have it
available.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#20
Oh C'mon, Leonid. Photons are energy, whether gamma rays,
infra-red rays, radio waves, or visible spectrum light, it's all
photons. Photons react to all sorts of things. If they didn't,
they'd pass through everything without being affected. 

Here is the problem. Photon is a quant of energy, not just energy.
The difference is important. But the bigger problem is the dual
nature of light. In some applications, light is considered as stream
of photons, but in others the wave theory is used.

Color of material depends on material refractive index. Yes, metals
have refractive induces as well. Refractive index is a measure of
slowing down speed of light insight the material. That means that
refractive index is an animal of wave theory. You see, photon is a
pure representation of light. Einstein has proved that speed of light
is constant. It is foundation of modern physics. One cannot slow
photon down under normal conditions, but light wave is a different
matter. So photons and refractive index are not compatible concepts.
Viewing light as stream photons is destructive to the notion of
refractive index. If all this appears confusing, it is. The dual
nature of light is still a puzzle.

Subject of color in the ways that goldsmith can control, is the
subject of controlling refractive index. This is done via alloys
compositions, surface finish, and object shape. Gemstones
interactions should not be over-looked as well.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com