White Gold

Hi all,
Probably the problems with the nickel white gold stems from the
fact that silver and nickel can only dissolve each other to a
certain degree. Silver can dissolve only 0.4% nickel, nickel
only 2% silver, so, if there is too much silver in the alloy,
there will be some separation, which will cause cracks in
working. You cannot lower 18k by using silver, or you will get
these difficulties. Also, some premixed metals can only be used
for certain gold qualities, say 18k or 14k, you couldn’t use the
14k premix for 18k, due to silver content. Markus

Hello from a goldsmith in Israel! In the past, I made my own white
gold: 18K high-palladium. I’m now using purchased 14K white for the
first time: Rio Grande’s (nickel-white, I assume) and have been
blown away by how awful it is to work with!! It oxidizes a lot, and
sulfuric acid pickle doesn’t seem to clean it up! Since this piece
has parts which require polishing before soldering (parts not
accessible after), I need a chemical solution to oxidation removal.
What do people who work in this unpleasant material usually do?? I
often have parts that must be at least partially finished prior to

A bit of potassium chromate in a regular sulfuric acid pickle worked
the best. Nitric acid/water (20 to one—suggested by Rio’s
technical staff) did nothing (warmed solution, 10 min. soak) and
required scratchbrushing (glass brush) to see any effect at all.
Anybody have better luck with nitric acid (also suggested somewhere
in Orchid archives)?

How about Rio’s nickel pickle? Will it harm the other elements of
the alloy?

A really heavy coating of boric acid or borax kept the black at
bay, but left a pinkishness (my pickle was fresh and uncontaminated)
which required significant mechanical removal. Normally I would
assume this is copper from the alloy being exposed as a result of
nikel depletion, but the entire surface was pinkish after having
been sucessfully protected from nickel oxidation (no black) by borax
(not boric acid). Normally (eg with silver) I would just heat it
unfluxed to turn the copper to copper oxide and remove it in sufuric
pickle, but I’m afraid this would create more (unremovable) nickel
oxides as well. The pink couldn’t be cuprous (as opposed to cupric)
oxide as there was only very mild heating with a basically reducing

Additional info: propane torch—no air or oxygen; slightly
air-cooled before putting in room temp sulfuric pickle; the sheet
was beautiful material—arrived almost ready-polished! It’s really
upsetting to have to use abrasives on it!

What do those of you who work in nickel silver usually do???

No place in Israel sells paladium white gold sheet. Nor does Rio.

Many thanks,
Janet in Jerusalem.

Janet, I have dumped the nickle white gold entirely and now use only
palladium white. It is a little more expensive than the nickle white
but as you have found, you expend more time in the clean up with the
nickle white. A second benefit is that it is softer than nickle
white and is much easier to channel set or flush set stone. It is
not quite as white as the nickle white, but holding a piece of each
in opposite hands, you could not tell the difference. The palladium
white works better than yellow gold as far as I am concerned.

I get mine from Stuller’s. They have a presence in Israel. You can
check out their site a www.stuller.com for more Their
site doesn’t reference their Israel location, but their catalogs do,
listing their location as Ramat Gan, Israel, but not phone or
address. You might try their E-mail, Info@ stuller.com for


  No place in Israel sells paladium white gold sheet. Nor does
Rio. Recommendations? 

Hi Janet, I can’t answer your questions about pickling white gold
because I don’t have enough experience with it, but I can suggest you
contact Hoover & Strong who do sell 14k and 18k palladium white
gold sheet (and wire, etc.). See http://www.hooverandstrong.com/.
They’re great to work with and will do custom orders as well.


    What do those of you who work in nickel silver usually do??? 

We curse the stuff and suffer mostly. Wait until you try bright
cutting with it, or worse, pav=E9. And then there are those "two-tone=
designs where you have to mate yellow and white along a long seam
without ending up with pits in your solder seam. Seriously, I think
Stuller has a palladium white alloy you can mix with 24K to make your
own. Most of the refiners like Hoover and Strong, Hauser and Miller,
etc., have 14K and 18K palladium white alloys as well as karat gold
casting grain. Take a look at Precious Metals West’s web site and
see what they’re selling. Here’s the URL.

David L. Huffman

Dear Janet,

I work a lot with 18kt nickel white gold. I did suffer a lot from
this oxidation problem. I tried many kind of borax acid with no
success at all. I kept having black or pinkish spots. No pickle
could remove them. So I used the bombing technique (after the item
was finished but before I polish it) to remove those spots. Finally
one day I came across a great product that resolved all this problem.
It is liquid borax from Italy. I know, there are so many kinds of
liquid borax, but this one works. You mix it with water 50/50. Before
soldering the item you dip it into this mixture. you heat it a little
bit then redip it once again, then you proceed with your soldering.
After that, any pickling solution will work. Believe me , no more
spots. The product is liquid borax from Bailo Aldo & Figlio, Via Novi
93, 15060 Basaluzzo (AL) , phone: 0143/489791 fax 0143/489793.

Fady Sawaya
3D Jewelry Designer


Janet, When I fingd that I need to do a chemica strip of white gold,
I will resort to electro stripping or bombing the piece. Information
on these processes can be found in the archives. Do use care as one
should always do when using cyanide compounds.

Bruce Holmgrain
JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler

I have been using the 18kt Palladium white gold but have had a tough
time with the 18kt white solder. The 18 hard I get from Hoover just
does not match very well . Any suggestions other than really tight
seems and clean work. Anyone have a solder that matches color better?

Etienne, Hoover & Strong has an 18kt palladium white gold solder
which matches their 18kt palladium white gold alloy.

Michael David Sturlin, jewelry artist @Michael_David_Sturl1

Michael Sturlin Studio, Scottsdale Arizona USA

Hello Etienne,

I had complained to my refiner about the problem of 18KW solder not
matching 18KPdW gold, and they suggested using easy platinum solder.
Easy is, of course, a relative term and the lowest temp I could find
was 1100 degrees C which is just a little over 2000 degrees
Fahrenheit. This has worked well for me for joining ring shanks once
I got over my fear of that high a temperature. The gold glows red
like a traffic light and my heart is in my throat waiting for the
ring to melt into a lump before the solder flows. I have not yet
found the courage to use it for subsequent soldering operations. If
there are braver souls than I out there who use platinum solder with
gold routinely, I’d love to hear about their experiences.

in balmy (for today, anyway) Massachusetts

Not sure if this is germaine to the thread or not, but the March AJM
has a pair of articles about nickel-free whites. The first is an
overview of alloys in 10k, 14k, and 18k, including high and low
palladium whites, and the second is one jeweler’s notes on trying
out three different alloys (from David H. Fell, Hoover & Strong, and
Precious Metals West) in the shop.

You can find these articles online at www.ajm-magazine.com (The
first is there in excerpt form, as it’s a very long piece!)

John Shanahan
Webmaster & Staff Writer
MJSA/AJM Magazine
1-800-444-6572, ext. 3037

Hoover & Strong has an 18K Pd/Wht solder that has a melt point of
1785 degrees and a flow point of 1840 degrees. It does an excellent
color matching job in this metal.

I have been wondering how Cobb could possibly have a metal that
lives up to the marketing spin. Well, I am not totally objective, I’m
in that business, but my research into white gold issues is years
long and many castings/bars deep. High nickel gives good color.
Acceptable malleability will come from an exact temperature and
timing sequence that keeps the grain structure small. Hey folks we
all understand white is here to stay. The basic compromises will stay
as well. I will be watching to see if the applied for patent stands
up to prior work challenges.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here… There is far more advancement to
be made with technique that with formulas in white gold. Copper and
nickel do no get along well, fire cracking is a problem. That’s
cracking when you heat the gold. Very frustrating-Heat to anneal and
it breaks. Palladium is too expensive for many. AAAGH! The usual
white gold trade offs will always be there.

I had already decided that the next video I do for Ganoksin will be
the Definitive Guide to White gold. Long on metallurgy and method and
nearly bereft of sales pitch, I’ll run down all the things you need
to know to use the right white gold. Shooting began last month. I
hope to finish by before the holiday break. Thanks to Hanuman for
providing the server!

Daniel Ballard
Precious Metals West