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White Gold - needs some plaining


#1

On another (non-jewelry) newsgroup there is some confusion as to
what is white gold. I have run thru my knowledge of the material so I
need help from you experts. Most of this was in relationship to
earring posts & nickel allergies.

The first mis-statement was that all white gold is plated with
rhodium. I’ve never heard of this as I think white gold looks fine
by itself.

  1. Do earring posts in white gold get rhodium plating?
  2. Or is the rhodium plating to hide a base metal?
  3. Why plate white gold?
  4. And how does rhodium plating work with people with nickel
    allergies?

Also it was stated that white gold doesn’t have nickel in it. What I
(think I) know is that American white gold is still made with
nickel. European white gold is made with palladium…and America
should follow their lead, but haven’t so far.

  1. Am I right about the alloy?
  2. What is Canadian white gold? Nickel or palladium?

That seems to cover the basic confusion. Any other info you might
have to add would be helpful.

Thanks.
Carla
www.carlamfox.com


#2

Ummm…hmmmm…where do I start here…???

  1. Much of commercially cast white gold is indeed rhodium plated if
    it is yellow gold that has been alloyed with nickel.

  2. You probably wouldn’t bother with the plating on a post alone as
    it is such a small element, but yes, it would be plated if it was
    already a part of an earring as there would be no valid reason for
    taking the time and effort needed it to omit the earring post from
    the plating process.

  3. White gold is made of yellow gold, alloyed with either nickel,
    palladium, silver, or tin, to obtain a “white” color. 4. There is no
    "base metal" ie: copper, brass, pop metal etc…to “hide”.

  4. White gold is plated because the natural color of white gold is
    not really a true white, unless it is a high quality palladium
    alloy.

  5. There is no nickel in rhodium. It is a high white metal found
    along with platinum and palladium. Although someone with a nickel
    allergy will certainly have a reaction to nickel alloyed white gold.
    That can be remedied by having a pore-free heavy layer of either
    rhodium or platinum plating over the piece.

  6. Most white gold in the US has nickel in it. The natural color is
    grey. If the alloy is tin, the natural color is more yellow. thus
    the need for plating. If the alloy is a high grade of palladium, the
    problems associated with other alloys do not arise, and the color is
    whiter.

  7. Plating will wear off eventually, so be sure to let your
    customers in on the plating process so that they won’t be surprised.

  8. White gold all by itself with no plating is pretty darn ugly,
    unless its the platinum alloyed variety.

Hope that helps a bit. Interesting the info that is swimming around
out there. Personally, except for clasp tongues, I hate the stuff,
and only use it if a customer insists, but I bitch non-stop about it.
:slight_smile:

Here’s a nice plating site that might further correct your
misperceptions: http://www.artisanplating.com/faqs/
whitegoldfaqs.html Its pretty informative.

Lisa, ( making a custom ring right now, where the customer keeps
changing her mind…sigh…guess she really wants to pay a lot)
Topanga, CA USA


#3

Dear Carla

Whit gold is generally plated in in the commercial jewellery markets
of the world with Rhodium for the purpose of making the white gold
look “bright white”…the naturay colour of white gold if some what
steely grey…but slight warmer in colour thanks to the Yellow gold
content…Commercialy speaking customers prefer the "bright white"
look expecially when diamonds are involved as it makes the stone
appear larger in its setting…

Talking of earrings or any other piece of jewellery…usually you
would complete the entire piece’s assembly, buff, polish, set the
stones, buf again and then plate. This process really goes for any
kind of plating.

The other reason for rhodium plating to mention is that white gold
alloyed with palladium is a lot softer than rhodium and would scratch
a lot more…therefore by rhodium plating you add durablity to the
piece especially if its a ring…but this has alife span of about 6
months to a year before you would have to replate.

Nickle alloyed white gold is far more durable and far whiter than
its palladium alloyed counterpart but has the allergy factor.

There when I work with a white gold, I alloy my gold with palladuim
and offcourse silver for caratage…but i dont rhodium plate any of
my white gold work as I nor my clients have any issues witht he
natural colour of the palladium alloyed white gold.

So to answer your questions:

Do earring posts in white gold get rhodium plating? 

Yes the do…

Or is the rhodium plating to hide a base metal? 

It is possible but more likely to add a bright white colour or for
the durablity factor.

Why plate white gold? 

As stated above to allow for less sctraching and for a bright white
finish especially for stone setting.

And how does rhodium plating work with people with nickel
allergies? 

The way it works is that the layer of metal that touches the skin is
actually the rhodium layer…which keeps the nickle part from comming
in contact with the person who is wearing it…but it depends on how
thick the plating is…it should be atleast 8 microns of plating

Also it was stated that white gold doesn’t have nickel in it. What I
(think I) know is that American white gold is still made with nickel.
European white gold is made with palladium…and America should
follow their lead, but haven’t so far.

Am I right about the alloy? 

Yes you are right in that Yellow gold is mixed with either nickle or
palladium to bleech and acheive the white colour…yes the USA
predominantly uses nickle alloyed white gold, which is more difficult
to work with than the palladium alloyed white gold…When I worked in
Littleton Colorado, I met a really nice gentleman that was atleast 50
years in the business of setting stones and he refused to set
anythingmade in white gold becoz it was all alloyed with nickle and
too hard to set…I showed him how to alloy the gold with palladium
and he was quite happy to use that…

What is Canadian white gold? Nickel or palladium? 

I am unaware of what is used as an alloy in canada.

I hope this helps…let me know if u should have any more
questionsab out this topic ofline if need be. I have worked in the
USA and and from South Africa and an currently working in India so
have a bit of knowledge from a few places…

Take care
Raakhi


#4

White gold is simply 14kt.(or 18kt.) gold with stuff in it to make it
white. There really isn’t a “Canadian white gold”, as in some
national formula. If anyone wants to put manganese in it, that’s fine
as long as it’s.585 gold. Rhodium is one of the whitest metals, plus
it’s very hard and durable. All of your questions, above, are
unanswerable, because people may or may not plate any given item -
it’s also not a “rule”. But even the whitest white gold has a
yellowish tint to it, and any soldering will be even more yellow, and
rhodium plating will make that uniformly white and bright. We will
make a wedding ring to match a customer’s engagement, and then
rhodium
so the metals look to match each other, being different alloys.
Rhodium will protect an ear from nickel allergies, AS LONG AS IT
LASTS. It begins to rub off in the ear immediately, and after no more
than 6 months or a year, with frequent wear, it will expose the base
metal. Rhodium plating is hardly ever used to make “Plated” jewelry,
like costume - it’s very expensive - today it’s $4810/oz. It’s used
to make a uniform color, and take away the “dingy” look that white
gold can have, mostly.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#5
The first mis-statement was that all white gold is plated with
rhodium. I've never heard of this as I think white gold looks fine
by itself. 

While not all white gold is plated the vast majority of industrially
made white gold goods are indeed plated with rhodium. Because of
this most people have no clue what white gold looks like as all they
know is rhodium plating.

Do earring posts in white gold get rhodium plating? 

Again, industrially produced goods almost always hand made small shop
goods maybe

Or is the rhodium plating to hide a base metal? 

Not if it is quality marked as 14k

Why plate white gold? 

Because with the exception of the very high nickel white golds they
are not white but some form of pale yellow. The high nickel goods
are very difficult to work with, they are very hard prone to cracking
and a pita to cast. So to get costs down the manufacturers use a more
yellow easieer to work material and plate it

And how does rhodium plating work with people with nickel
allergies? 

As long as there is no break in the plating surface then it will
keep the nickel away from the skin and there will be no reaction. The
tricky part is keeping the plating surface whole. In items like
earring posts the nut constantly abrades the post and the underlying
material will be exposed fairly soon.

Also it was stated that white gold doesn't have nickel in it. What
I (think I) know is that American white gold is still made with
nickel. European white gold is made with palladium...and America
should follow their lead, but haven't so far. 

The vast majority of white gold is still nickel based. The EU has
laws about nickel release not nickel content. The law says that an
industry product may not release more than a certain amount of
nickel in a certain period of time when in skin contact. There is a
lab test that is used to determine the release rate. Many
manufacturers that sell in the EU have decided to go to palladium
white golds which are a little bit grayer than rhodium plating but
still very white. This totally bypasses the nickel issue but makes
for a very expensive material, 14k palladium white cost about what
18k yellow does per oz. so this has quite an impact on the price of
the finished goods. I love palladium white and wish all makers would
go to using it but the cost is a big problem.

Am I right about the alloy? 

See above

What is Canadian white gold? Nickel or palladium? 

I don’t know

That seems to cover the basic confusion. Any other info you might
have to add would be helpful. 

There is a large amount of confusion about white gold even in the
trade so it is not surprising that the customer is confused.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#6

Is there any great problem casting palladium white gold? Any
favorite alloys?

I just recently tried a higher nickel casting alloy from United.
Their metalurgist told me that their alloy number 915 is whiter than
the ever-so-slightly-yellow 930 I have been using, without being too
much harder. It definitely is whiter, but I have only used it once
so I don’t have much experience. Like Jim Binion I really like
palladium white. I use it in wire and sheet form, but have not cast
any. Contrast with other colors is a big issue for me. You can see
what I am doing with it at

http://www.celtarts.com/Rings/frame_rings.htm

Steve Walker


#7

I’ve never heard of tin being used as a whitening agent in white
gold alloys…

Andy


#8
The high nickel goods are very difficult to work with, they are
very hard prone to cracking and a pita to cast. 

Introduced to it by Andy Cooperman on this forum, Winter White gold
alloy by David Fell has reduced my problems with nickel white gold.
Cracking has not been a problem, and my diamond setter has not
complained, and some setting has been flush setting. I have been
able to do significant bending of ring shanks without cracking, as I
cast a ring as it comes out of a rubber mold, and it is easier clean
up for me to size after casting. I have rolled it and pulled white
and had less problems than with traditional white gold alloys.
Casting temp is 975-1000 F for the flask.

Richard Hart


#9

James, I usually read your contributions, I find that most of your
to be of great value to a lot of novice jewelry
professionals ( some of your thoughts may be a little advanced for
some newbies and me). The debate over white gold alloy seems to be
the never ending story. In the last few years many new alloys are
appearing on the market. Many of them are formulated for easy
casting, but look very yellowish and have the properties of
mud.These really need to be plated. I have had a number of
complaints from customers about the yellowish color of the white
gold, so I rhodium plate. Also I am coming across some low end third
world manufactured Bling Bling that is both nickle plated with a
dash of rhodium over it. What a pain. Nickle seems to cover casting
issues a little more effectively than rhodium. I think they may
flash it with rhodium just to tell the buyers its rhodium plated,
and possibly to try and reduce the reaction some folks experience. A
very good source of is in the Stuller catalog. They show
a scale of the whiteness of the white alloys they market, and the
temperatures for casting.I have experimented with a number of these
products. One of the newer ones I really like from Stuller is the
X1. It has an unusually high casting temp, and takes a little time
to learn its particulars properties. My first attempt at casting it
was completely successful. I hope Stuller will jump in on this, as I
don’t know the composition of this alloy,(may be a secret). Any way

  1. it is not cheap,2) they recommend using an X1 solder which I have
    not used, and 3) it is hard but not brittle, setting stones was not
    a problem. It’s a little harder to polish, but the trade off is you
    do not need to rhodium plate. This alloy is as white as rhodium
    plating, or as close as one can get. Love it. If any one else has
    experience with this alloy or knows it’s composition I would really
    like to benefit from your experience. Thank you, Sorry, it looks like
    I wrote a book.

Regards, Craig


#10

Something that is mentioned in relationship to white gold is nickle
allergy. In the last 15 years, I have not had a customer who has had
any reaction to white gold. I have had customers who are allergic to
yellow gold, sterling, and hypo-allergenic findings, none of which
contain nickle. I would like to know how many problems others have
had with customers having reactions to white gold. The worst problem
I
had was using palladium white gold. I was trying to avoid the rhodium
issue. The customer wore the ring for a few weeks, and came back
because she did not like the grayish color. I remade it thinking it
was something I had done wrong, recast it, and the same thing
happened. Remade it in white gold, rhodiumed it, and have not hade
any other proble ms.

Richard Hart


#11

Dear Mr. richard,

I have gone through all the mails exchanged so far on the white gold
issues, it seems that it is the same problem that every one faces
while working with white gold. My problem is that after casting and
during the finishing process the product develops small pits or call
it porosities affecting the required quality standards.Have tried
altreing temps. for casting. Can any one suggest a process or an
alloy that would not work like alladin’s genie but atleast solve a
part of the problem which hounds every process personels.

Khushroo kotwal


#12
Is there any great problem casting palladium white gold? Any
favorite alloys? 

hi steve, I always have my castings done in palladium white, they
work fine - the alloy contains Au, Ag, Pd, Cu, Zn, cheers, Christine


#13

Hi Craig,

If any one else has experience with this alloy or knows it's
composition I would really like to benefit from your experience. 

I’ve been casting X1 for over a year, and it is the only white gold I
use now (unless my customer has a nickel allergy). I have never had
to rhodium plate it for a customer. In fact, it is white enough that
I made a ring which had cast platinum/ruthenium heads attached to a
cast 14X1 shank (at the customer’s request, I’ll add), and he could
not see the difference in color. It is by far whiter than my most
recent palladium white casting.

I have found that it is absolutely necessary to use at least 50% new
shot for each melt, and occasionally I’ll do a 75% new mix to
freshen up the buttons (about every 20 or so melts). Otherwise, the
raw castings are not as clean as I like them to be, which are
typically so white and smooth-grained that I can practically throw
them into my magnetic tumbler with no other surface finishing (I’m
really keen on a highly finished wax, though).

I find that it is no harder than any other nickel white gold that
I’ve cast, and actually have found it to be slightly more malleable
than some (especially Stuller’s standard white alloy).

I’ve used the mill products as well, and am equally pleased with the
consistent white color from batch to batch. However, I have not had
much success with the X1 solder. I have a sheet of medium, and find
that is does not flow as smoothly as I’d like, so I end up using
standard white solder when required.

All told, I am very happy with this product.

Matthew Crawford
www.MatthewDesigns.com


#14

Hi All;

Is there any great problem casting palladium white gold? Any
favorite alloys? 

I need to interject here. Casting palladium gold alloys does require
some specific considerations. First, standard investment is not
advised. The palladium alloys have a much higher melting point, and
the mold needs to be hotter. With conventional, crsytobalite based
investments, this causes the sulfur in the investment to react with
the surface of the metal, which gives you tiny cross hatched patterns
of sulfides on the surface of your casting. This can be ground away,
if your design alloys you to access all surfaces. Nonetheless, this
produces a less than satisfactory casting. You should use the same
type of investment used for platinum, or some of the new ones
formulated for palladium alloys. Also, to cast at the lowest
possible temperature, which is the best way to avoid porosity, you’ll
need a heavier sprue system to get the metal into the cavity faster.
Finally, these alloys tend to absorb carbon, which contaminates the
metal, therefore, melting in an electric melter with a carbon
crucible is not preferred. Best to melt with a torch, using a neutral
flame. And avoid hydrogen torches, because of the tendency to
hydrogen embrittlement. One caveat to this I am not as
expert at casting as some of our posters, so I’ll defer to their
expertise if they offer it.

David L. Huffman


#15

Hi All,

Sounds like we’re back on the white gold issues again.

The feedback I get from my customers is that the high nickel bright
white golds are difficult to work with. Jewelers in the South and
West, where swimming pools and hot tubs are prevalent, are
particularly concerned with the effects of chlorine and bromine on
nickel alloyed white gold.

The 14K palladium white golds are easier to work with but don’t
possess the bright white finish they’re looking for.

While there are no “perfect” metals, you may want to consider 950
Palladium products. I feel that the white color, look, and
workability are superior to the white golds on the market. Pricing,
depending on the metal markets, is very close to 14K white gold.
Purity is 95%.

Gene Rozewski
R-Findings


#16

Dear Gene

At the risk of seeming ignorant…what is 950 palladium? what are
the alloy ratios? By my understanding of what you have written, his
950 palladium alloy seems to be whiter than usual palladium
alloys…I use 15% palladium of the total weight of 24kt…Please
explain if this is the same alloy…i am interested to know as i would
like to see a palladium alloy that is whiter than usual.

Thanks in advance…

Raakhi Rana
Jewellery Designer
Gurgaon
India


#17

950 palladium is not a gold alloy. It is an alloy of 950 parts of
palladium and 50 parts of ruthenium(??) or whatever else the
manufacturer is using.

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


#18
950 palladium is not a gold alloy. It is an alloy of 950 parts of
palladium and 50 parts of ruthenium(??) or whatever else the
manufacturer is using. 

I have some other from johnson- matthey called the
investigation of 950 palladium jlry alloys

Andy " The Tool Guy" Kroungold
Tool Sales / Technical
Stuller Inc


#19

Hi Raakhi,

950 Palladium is 95% Palladium and 5% Ruthenium (with a trace of
other elements). Palladium is from the Platinum family of metals
which also includes Rhodium, Ruthenium, Iridium and Osmium. It is a
naturally white metal, virtually the same color as Platinum and does
not require rhodium plating. It is not as dense as Platinum; its
about the same density as white gold but is more malleable and
doesn’t have a “memory” like white gold.

Price is also one of its advantages. Today’s market price per ounce,
October 6, 2006, is $298.00 for Palladium; $572.60 for gold and
$1080.00 for Platinum. Can you believe that Rhodium is $4730.00/oz?
Most palladium products I have in stock cost slightly more than the
same in 14K white gold and substantially less than Platinum.

Those of you who are interested in Palladium can go to the Palladium
Alliance International website www.luxurypalladium.com which is a
good source for many questions that you may have.

FYI, Raakhi, China is the world’s biggest user of palladium for
jewelry.

Regards,
Gene Rozewski
R-Findings