Is white gold really hot?

All,

One of the things that I would like to explore is the gold color
issue. I find that many of my suppliers have over committed to white
gold while many of my customers continue to demand yellow gold…how
about some feedback on that consideration ? Happy hot summer !

Ron Mills, Mills Gem Company, Los Osos, Ca.

Ron,

I think this is very specific to an area. I am in NW New Jersey and
my customers are still asking for Yellow…The younger customers are
asking for White and the kids still like Silver. The trend I think is
starting to sway back to yellow though.

This is my reflection for the last year an a half…(since I opened
my store)… In NE & E New Jersey the white trend & plat were very
predominant. It was scary for me when I opened my store because as
you said the vendors had over committed to white gold and I was
afraid I was behind the curve and didn’t want to commit too much
myself to it but think that is coming full circle again and they are
showing more yellow again.

Be well,
Mark

i just got three commissions for white gold rings, none in the
yellow gold category that’s really the only basis for my answer!

have a great day!
beth

Well, from my limited perspective, having started out as a
stonesetter before I began my forays into fabrication, I never bought
a single white gold setting. Why pay the extra for gold when you can
make a silver piece look just as good ? I never understood the appeal
of white gold. There are other attractive white metals. I always felt
that if it’s not “gold” in color it’s not gold, no matter what the
composition of the metal is.

Brian Corll
Vassar Jewelers

Hi Ron;

One of the things that I would like to explore is the gold color
issue. I find that many of my suppliers have over committed to
white gold 

I remember when the Madison Avenue set began to really push white
gold back in the 90’s. The movie “Titanic” seems to have had an
impact of public tastes, or at least that’s what the marketers ran
with. Since then I’ve seen a steadily increasing demand from my
accounts for white gold. I must assume they know their market, so I
comply. Recently I received an order for a number of custom pieces,
heavy bezels in 18 karat white gold, to be set with… bolder opals.
I’m insisting this be done with a high palladium alloy. This is
really pushing the envelope, but then, I seem to get all this kind of
extreme stuff. I’m doing a lot of work with Stuller new X-1 alloy, as
per the requests of my accounts. Nice color, but a stubborn metal to
work with. It’s hard to solder, doesn’t really anneal appreciable,
but boy, it’s white compared to other white golds. Frankly, I can’t
see taking a beautiful metal like gold and contaminating it to the
point of making it look like nickel. And 18 karat white seems
mindless to me. Pure marketing hype. What’s the point? It’s usually
not even as white as 14 karat, just that you can charge more for it.
But it’s working characteristics, unless it’s the more expensive
palladium alloy, is miserable. I call it, “the Devil’s metal”. Talk
about the public’s perception being manipulated.

I hope to soon see the demise of white gold’s popularity. I now
refuse to do bright cut and pave in anything but palladium alloys,
unless it’s a good client and for some reason it has to be done
otherwise. It’s just a good way to ruin your hands, as far as I’m
concerned.

It seems now that the demand for white gold can’t go any further. I
hope that’s the case. I’d love to do all my gold work in 18 karat
yellow and the white in platinum, but that will have to wait until
and if I end up working exclusively on my own line for my own
customers. I haven’t done much with pure (or near pure) palladium,
but I think it has possibilities. It has better working
characteristics (other than the high casting temps) and more But the
market will have to be educated about it to see it as a jewelry
metal, and that will take years. Meanwhile, I’ve gotten good enough
working with white gold that it doesn’t give me a lot of grief. What
seem worse to me than the demand for white gold is the obsession with
"micro-pave". It’s all over the place, and we know that a good part
of it is very poorly made. I’m frankly sick of jewelry design that’s
just so much formless shapes of glittering white metal smeared all
over with tiny diamonds that you don’t dare put in your ultrasonic
for fear you’ll be re-setting half the stones. Its done, done, done
to death.

David L. Huffman

Brian,

I never understood the appeal of white gold. There are other
attractive white metals. I always felt that if it's not "gold" in
color it's not gold, no matter what the composition of the metal
is. 

Please give me that list of other attractive white metals. Other
white metals are not as durable as white gold. All hype aside,
platinum loses it’s polish pretty easily. Prongs can be bent easier
than white gold.

Different metals have different characteristics, and white gold is
so far superior to sterling that no one should sell sterling wedding
bands without a disclosure. They will not hold up. Wedding and
engagement jewelry using diamonds are not made out of sterling. I
cannot cast palladium myself, so that is a deterrent for me.

Kind of an unusual concept, my customers determine what metal I use.
I don’t have to think about what appeals to me. My customers are
about 75% white gold for wedding bands and engagement rings.

Facts apparently have no relevance, but an alloy containing.585 is
14 kt gold, regardless of what color it is. And, actually, I really
like rose gold, myself.

I make a signature piece that is very popular, two interlocking
bands, and they can be any combo of rose, white, or yellow gold.
Most choose both in white gold, one with a brush finish. I
personally like the white/red, or red/yellow, or red/yellow combos
best. I think they have more character. Rarely does a customer ask
my opinion on what color metal they should use. They really seem to
know how they feel about that.

I do a lot of custom work in sterling. It is a great metal for
fashion jewelry. Perhaps you have not had the experience of paying
attention to the difference in how a piece would have to be
constructed, sterling

must be thicker than white gold to be as durable, and that can
affect design, which is important to me. I have some delicate long
pearl drops that I make out of gold, silver would bend too easy just
in normal use, and platinum would make the price too high.

White hot heat wave in Denver, where my lethargy is at an all time
high,

Richard Hart

Mark,

I think that you are right on the money. Gold color preference is a
product of locale and demographics. The older the customer, the more
likely he might prefer yellow gold. Young customers, on the other
hand, want to be trendy and some of this category even go so far as
to convert to white or,gawd forbid, plate yellow with rhodium. As for
the suppliers, I have one coming this week who wants to blow off his
remaining yellow gold at a big discount.One of the things that I have
noticed is that Stuller has never gone one way or the other, but has
maintained a panoply of options as reflected in its catalogs, flyers
and ads. I think that a lot of Stuller’s success is attributable to
not over-reacting to fads while at the same providing the widest
possible choice of metals. Good luck and be well,

Ron Mills, Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca.

Brian,

I agree to disagree. Being quite new to the forum (only 6 months or
so) but for almost 20 years in jewellery industry I can see the
growing fashion for white gold for last 5 years or more. It’s most
likely temporary thing but even if it’s not in fashion tomorrow there
always will be customers who dislike yellow gold but find silver to
cheap and platinum to expensive.

From the goldsmith’s prospective it gives us a real challenge to
find that perfect white gold alloy that it’s not brittle, it can be
rolled or casted and it doesn’t have that yellowish tint covered by
rhodium plating and starts to show few years (sometimes month) after
the purchase. And white diamonds look better in white gold setting,
wouldn’t you agree?

Danuta Cieslukowska
Gold Cast

Heh David!

I'm frankly sick of jewelry design that's just so much formless
shapes of glittering white metal smeared all over with tiny
diamonds that you don't dare put in your ultrasonic for fear you'll
be re-setting half the stones. Its done, done, done to death. 

I love your design critique! I have been using 18K yellow and 18K
palladium white (from Imperial) combination in a number of pieces. I
like the working properties of 18K pw - more malleable than 18K y -
and I also like the way the 18K pw refracts light to create areas of
dark shadow.

All the best,

Donna
Donna Hiebert Design

And white diamonds look better in white gold setting, wouldn't you
agree? 

Actually no I don’t agree. Frankly I think it’s one of the biggest
fallacies in the industry. A really white (D-E-F color) diamond
actually gets lost in a platinum setting. The stones and the metal
all look like one mass as opposed to a beautiful diamond in a
beautiful setting. Additionally if you are selling D-E-F color stones
in yellow settings, the whiteness of the diamond actually stands out
in much higher contrast to the yellow metal around it. On the other
hand if you’re selling that commercial grade stuff, it will all look
yellowier in yellow metals.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
617-234-4392

Richard,

Please give me that list of other attractive white metals. 

Since you seem to never tire of arguing about everything someone
else says, here’s my short list:

Sterling silver
Fine silver
Argentium
Platinum
Palladium
You can find the rest on your own.

Brian Corll
Vassar Jewelers

so far superior to sterling that no one should sell sterling
wedding bands without a disclosure. They will not hold up. Wedding
and 

Who said anything about selling sterling wedding rings ? Me, sell a
wedding ring ? I’d no more do that than sell a wedding gown. Not my
bag…I can’t deal with that wedding stuff, or prospective brides
either (making the sign of the cross).

My business is in its infancy, but it will never include wedding
anything.

Brian Corll
Vassar Jewelers

My business is in its infancy, but it will never include wedding
anything. 

So, you’d turn down a commission for custom wedding bands? Or an
engagement ring? I’d say that 60% of my business is making and
selling custom wedding jewelry. It’s very lucrative, and you may want
to rethink this decision. Do you really want to throw out the
possibility of making diamond (or other center stone) sales, read:
easy money?

And let me also address the “prospective bride” issue. Perhaps you
are not a people-person, salesperson, or person otherwise inclined
to look toward your fellow human with an open mind, but there is no
“typical” bride from whom you would wish to hide. To be evenhanded in
my response, both the bride and groom can be a handful sometimes, or
any other person interested in a custom piece of jewelry at any time
in their life. But more often than not, both people are excited to be
involved so intimately in the creation of what is, essentially, an
expression of their love for each other. That may sound awfully
gooey, but it is pretty cool to be included in this process, with so
many different people.

Matthew Crawford
www.MatthewDesigns.com

My business is in its infancy, but it will never include wedding
anything. 

How incredibly self limiting you are being. Do you know that bridal
jewelry makes up close to 60% of most jewelry sold? And since almost
all jewelry is a sentimental purchase why restrict yourself from
selling the most sentimental jewelry of all? Not knowing the type of
business you have (wholesale/retail/internet) I can’t say for sure
that it will negatively impact you, but if you are a retailer and you
refuse to sell any bridal stuff you are most assuredly shooting
yourself in the foot.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

Hallo Daniel,

Everybody is entitled to his or hers opinion and “beauty is in the
eye of beholder” (I had a huge discussion about this one with my
designer goldsmith who is also a painter and who also thinks that
that is the biggest lie ever) so I should let it go. Just so you know
we seldom make or sell pave or bead set glittery stuff. Our motto is
the simpler the better… Actually our motto is “if you can think it
we can make it.”

Well, at least we both agree that diamond quality matters.

Cheers.
Danuta Cieslukowska
Gold Cast

Different metals have different characteristics, and white gold is
so far superior to sterling that no one should sell sterling
wedding bands without a disclosure. They will not hold up. Wedding
and engagement jewelry using diamonds are not made out of
sterling. 

Not yet but soon they could be… I just have to pop in here to talk
about the platinum/sterling alloys. I don’t own stock in the product
or company but I wish I did! The platinum/sterling alloys work like
14K yellow gold and are strong enough to hold up over time. You could
make wedding ring from these alloys. Plus they are naturally white,
bright white, and resist tarnish six times better than standard
sterling. You got to try these alloys. They can be cast like gold
would be, no special crucibles or torches. They can be engraved and
bright set. When working with them it feels like working karated
gold. And they cost at a quarter of the cost of gold.

If white gold should go the way of the dinosaur (which it really
should) then these platinum/sterling alloys could clearly take its
place. If I where still running a production line I would be
switching to these alloys and then I’d sit back and watch my profit
margin soar.

Nanz Aalund
Associate Editor / Art Jewelry magazine
21027 Crossroads Circle / Waukesha WI 53187-1612
262.796.8776 ext.228

Dan,

I don’t consider it self-limiting at all just because I don’t want
deal with wedding stuff. Go to any mall and all of the commercial
jewelers have cases chock full of wedding items. Why try to compete
with that ? I want to create one-off “art jewelry”, and I consider
most wedding jewelry to be somewhat limited in its variations. At
the moment, with my business being in its infancy, I can’t really
afford the gold/platinum/diamond materials which are required for
most wedding jewelry. I work mostly in silver and colored gemstones,
and soon enamel. I’m happy with that. I have an especial dislike for
diamonds, which most people want to see in wedding jewelry (you know

  • “a diamond is forever” - meaning some poor groom is paying for it
    forever ;-).

Brian Corll
Vassar Jewelers

Matthew,

At this point, I don’t do anything custom, just what I want to
build, and I work only with colored I really don’t
like/can’t afford diamonds right now (I’ve never liked diamonds -
they’re as common as coal) so I don’t work with them. I’m not sure I
want to do custom or commission work. It’s just not my game plan.
That may change with time, but I need my business to evolve further
first.

Brian Corll
Vassar Jewelry

I had an experience today. I had customers come in and pick up their
wedding rings today. I feel so completely honored to be a part of
the process. But, I was having a really hard time recently, feeling
really out of it, lethargic because of the heat, just returning from
a trip to Texas where my wife’s family was having a reunion, about
1000, yes, 1000 people. As hot and humid and as uncomfortable as it
could be, it was. The trip threw my schedule off, trip was really
tiring, and I had to really work hard to finish the rings I had
started before the trip, and I was about as grumpy as I could be and
still have self control to not take it out on anyone, employee or
customer.

The couple to be married on Saturday came in with groom’s mother and
his sister, and I start to realize, this couple have something in
common, they seem to have a really good connection, and I start
understanding that whatever I am going through in my personal life
and my trials and tribulations (like taking my wife to the doctor
today unexpectedly as she has a fever, and a compromised immune
system and she can end up in the hospital from a common cold, and
the customers are coming but I don’t know when and I have not priced
the rings, and I put them off already from having them done
yesterday). Fortunately they come in just after I am back from the
doctor. And all of a sudden, I realize I am part of something that is
about commitment, love, understanding, accepting responsibility…and
I realize there is a bigger picture. The bride was giddy, both were
really thankful and appreciative, and I had to stop and surrender to
what was happening. The result of my effort was making two people
really happy.

And that seems to be what it is all about, for me. The money was
important, but the satisfaction meant more.

And there is another whole story about how the rings were made, with
a wax carver in Nebraska that I have known for 10 years, a colored
stone dealer from Calif. I have known 20 years, a jeweler here in
Denver I have known for 12 years. I have created a community of
cooperative people who help get the job done.

And one more thought, what other piece of jewelry will be worn for
decades, every single day and passed down as part of family history.
But I can understand that making wedding jewelry might not be for
everyone, it has it’s trials and tribulations. And I know some
people are opposed to the concept of marriage, or have suffered from
a bad one.

Richard Hart

Hello Nanz Aalund,

I commend you on your article in the current issue of Art Jewelry.
You did a good job describing this platinum-sterling alloy, and I
appreciate it.

Orchidland, if you’ve not seen recent issues of Art Jewelry, check
them out. I’m enjoying every issue, Judy in Kansas - since I’m in
the middle of nowhere, it helps a great deal to have all these new
ideas delivered to my door!