Dear Orchidians: After working for quite some time in silver, I am
about to embark on working with white gold for a special order. I
have been reading and thinking and now am ready to order the
materials and proceed. Has anyone got any suggestions, caveats,
etc.? The first project will be a fairly large project using 11 x 21
mm druzey and mabe pearls. Please help! Susan Ronan
in overcast Coronado.
Dear Orchidians: After working for quite some time in silver, I am
Susan; I use United Precious Metal Refining Inc. white alloy #930 for
both casting and fabrication. It is not brittle and the hardness is
reasonable. I sometimes machine my white gold castings on a watch
makers lathe to detail them. The color is white with a sort of gray
tone to it. I suggest you look into available alloys for your specific
needs. This is the one I have found that fits as an all around alloy.
I use it for mill stock as well as casting, I even use it to pave’.
Frank Goss UPM phone is 1-800-999-FINE ( usual disclaimer goes here)
I guess this is the only way I can find any info about how to work
with white gold… Is it possible to work with white goldwith the
fabrication method or is it too pretentious. will it always crack or
is there a correct way to do it I will be grateful for any help you
coud give me JUlieta Odio designer/metalsmith
Julieta, working with white gold can be frustrating. It is hard to
set stones in, and it is prone to fire scale when soldering it.
That is true for 14K nickel. The 14k Pladimum though is a lot
easier to work. It works a lot like 14k yellow. It solders
cleaner. It is softer to set stones in. It does cost a little more,
but for the time saved at the bench, I only use it now.
I guess this is the only way I can find any info about how to work with white gold... Is it possible to work with white goldwith the fabrication method or is it too pretentious. will it always crack or is there a correct way to do it I will be grateful for any help you coud give me JUlieta Odio designer/metalsmith
If you use palladium based white golds, you’ll find it fabricates
with the same ease as yellow golds. Nickel white golds, though, are
indeed nasty to work with. But you should be aware that there are
different alloys, some better for fabrication than others. In
particular, many casting alloys employ deoxidizers which can make the
metal harder to roll and draw. When you buy the metal, specify a
"rolling" alloy, rather than just using the same alloy you cast with.
of course, you CAN fabricate with the casting alloys too, but they
can be harder to work with.
A couple pointers: When rolling or drawing white golds, usually
they need to be annealed after only a 40 to 50 percent reduction.
Yellow golds can usually withstand a 90% reduction between anneals,
so if you’re using white gold, you’ll have to anneal much more often
than you may be used to.
When annealing, don’t overheat the metal. just a low red glow is
enough. Then, as soon as the red glow is gone (the metal around 900F
or so), quench in ALCOHOL, rather than water, especially cold water.
If you don’t have alcohol, then quench in boiling or near boiling
water. The idea is to cool the metal reasonably quickly, but without
quite the shock of a cold water quench, which can crack the metal.
But before following this advice, check with your metal supplier for
their annealing recommendations. As I said there are many white gold
variations, and while many will anneal well with this technique,
some will do better with a slow cooling in air, with no quench.
Others, when slow cooled, age harden. So you may have to experiment
to see how best to anneal your alloy.
When you melt white gold for ingots, (or casting), a natural gas or
propane fuel with oxygen is usually the best for torch metling.
Avoid hydrogen/oxygen for meling white golds, since this can give
hydrogen embrittlement. Your flame should be slightly reducing, but
not extremely so. Too reducing a flame, with a yellowish flame, for
example, can give carbide formation from the excess carbon, which
results in hard spots in your metal, and cracking.
Nickel white gold is never going to be all that easy to fabricate,
but it can be worked if you need to. Switching to palladium white
gold will make it easy to work. Learning to work in platinum
instead, will make you wonder why you ever bothered with white gold in
the first place… (grin).
Some of us have looked at white gold very thoroughly. White gold can
be fabricated. The best for working behavior is palladium based
alloys if the money is available for the job or use a lower nickel
white gold. Cost comparison- Nickel white $11.86 per dwt, low
palladium 14k is $13.04 (fair color) or high palladium 14kt is $14.72
all metals at the same $$. (Sorry for price specifics in the forum,
but the comparison is compelling, competitors will have a similar
difference I’m sure)
The color is less white with less nickel, but you will have far less
trouble working the gold. For fabrication-Make certain the gold is
silicon free, that’s for casting and increases hardness/cracking.
Rhodium plate anyway for a great look in the end. Many are too stingy
on rhodium plating, good plating lasts years, poor lasts weeks or
months. I wrote an alloy guide for jewelers, I can send a copy if you
reply to me offline and ask for it. AJM magazine is worth a back
issue search for tips on working white gold. The Santa Fe Symposium
papers sometimes have white gold papers, last year about “fire
cracking”. Well worth the reading.
Since the subject of white gold alloys has come up…
I plan to fabricate my wedding rings in a couple months. Having
never worked with gold, I’m a bit nervous. I’ll definitely be using
white gold, and while I’ve heard from everyone the difficulties of
using the nickel rather than the palladium alloy, can I work with the
palladium alloy without any special setup? My teacher will work with
me to melt down the grain, roll, and fabricate into a band, most
likely joined with an inlay (or some such) of sterling (because we
want two different tones of a white/silver color and I can’t think of
anything else besides sterling to use). Can this be done with an
oxy/acy torch or an oxy/natural gas one, in a normal soldering
New to gold,
Jessica in SF
Has anyone tried fusing white gold? I’ve been enjoying fusing silver
and gold, using high karat gold. Just wondering whether palladium
white would work-- it could be an interesting addition to my
We have had some extremely limited success with fusing 18k palladium
white gold, mostly in fusing bezels together. But as with all new
techniques in this field, you should just get out there and try it
yourself and see what happens.
Daniel R. Spirer, GG
I’ve found 14k palladium white gold, both and high and low
(palladium content wise) to fuse (weld) w/ excellent results. You
should wear platinum welding glasses for fusing the higher palladium
whites though. I use oxy/propane. I over build the welds, then
hammer (compact) them and file to profile. occasionaly you get some
pits, but these can be rewelded. I’m not sure about 18k.
Nickel whites can be torch welded w/ limited success. It tends to
pit, etc. I have filled casting pits via welding w/ mixed results.
It’s always worth a try.
As an aside, I have not had a lot of luck w/ casting palladium
whites, mostly the “low” variety. They tended to pit. It’s been
years since I tried. Palladium whites are a very nice material to
work with. I try to market it for it’s brown to gunmetal hue.
Hope that this helps.
Jessica, I have following this message of yours regarding the use of
white gold for fusing. I believe this is your question.
Okay, I am making an engagement ring in a white metal color with
graulation and fusing. The BEST metal to use for this is ELECTRUM.
You cannot buy it, you must alloy it yourself. You can fuse it to
itself and you can apply gold granulation to it.
the mixture is simple. 50% .9999 gold and 50% fine silver. Alloy
it and make sure it is mixed well. the ratios must be absolutely
I is a beautiful metal, white in color, won’t tarnish, and pure of
Please contact me offsite for more instruction and if
you are interested.
Jennifer Friedman in Atlanta, GA
Jennifer, I was just catching up on my Orchid reading and saw your
post. I’m just curious… would a 50/50 alloy consisting of fine
silver and .9999 gold be considered 14k?
(Hope this isn’t a dumb question. I do not make jewelry yet but I do
enjoy reading Orchid!)
I’m not Jennifer, but I’ll take a shot at this.
The karat is a measure of a gold-bearing alloy’s proportions which
indicates how many parts out of 24 are pure gold. A fifty/fifty
alloy would have 12 parts out of 24 pure gold, not 14. The electrum
alloy under discussion would be a 12 karat alloy.
NO, 50/50 gold to alloy makes 12 karat gold. You need to make
14/24 or .5833 karat. If you need the formula it is as follows:
Reducing the karat of Gold
example: If you have 9 dwt of 18K and want 10k. multiply 9 X .800 Alloy needed= 9dwt X .800 = 7.2dwt.
Alloy needed = original Gold weight X reducing factor.
Reducing factor for Karat Wanted
22K 18K 14K 10K
24K 0.0910 0.333 0.7140 1.4000 1.6670
22K 0.2220 0.5710 1.2000 1.4440
18K 0.2860 0.8000
This is a very helpful little chart and makes alloying very easy.
Technical Support & Sales
In reply to Dan’s question on 50/50 gold/silver, it would not be
14K, but rather 12K. Just take the percent (by weight) of gold, in
this case 50%, and multiply times 24 (as in 24K or pure gold) to get
the carat value of the resultant alloy.
An interesting aside is how much gold - by VOLUME, not weight, you
get with various alloys. This will help understand how the new
"hard" 24k ALLOYS can be alloys and still be labeled 24K.
When you determine carat value you use relative WEIGHTS of the parts
of the alloy, yet VOLUMES can be dramatically different. By using
the specific gravity or density of the metals you will see that in a
10K alloy of silver you would use about two and a half VOLUMES of
silver for every volume of gold. With Nickel and Copper, three to
one, Palladium, two and a quarter, Platinum, one and a quarter. If
you were able to alloy the lighter metals it would be dramatic,
Aluminum 10 to 1, Calcium 17 to 1, and Lithium over 50 to 1. The
resultant alloy would be lighter weight. Anyone out there know the
weights for an equivalent size sheet of 20 gauge nickel vs.
palladium wt gold? I see from Hover and Strong that 18KY is 1.3
times as heavy as 10KY.
It is my understanding that the high carat hard gold alloys use this
to advantage. Even with 24k being .995 pure, that would still be a
3% volume of calcium (which is 1/12 the weight of gold), and given
that the atomic size of Ca is much smaller than gold, each volume of
Ca would have a lot more atoms than an equivalent volume of gold-
the end being a hefty number of atoms to interfere with the crystal
structure of the gold and making it harder. The literature from the
World Gold Council suggests that early hard .995 golds used Ca and
rare earth metals, but the most recent are hardened by the “small
additions of antimony and cobalt” which makes them more reusable.
Now if someone would explain the various spellings of carat vs.
karat and the abbreviation of ct vs. K. The World Gold Council uses
the former, I always used the later.
Enough ramblings for one day here in cold snowy Denver.
Wondering if someone can help me out with white gold. I have been
working with silver for the last 7 years. I have worked with gold in
some cases such as lost wax castings, polishings, and setting stones.
However, I’ve never soldered it. I was recently asked to make some
wedding bands using white gold. Simple, half-round bands. I have 14kt
white gold hard solder, will this work? How is this process different
from working/soldering with sterling silver? I use acetylene.
I use 19K “white weld” solder on 14K white gold. This way I do not
get any solder seams after polishing. It does take a lot of heat and
some practice as you will be close to the melting temperature of the
Take care and good luck, Paul LeMay.
With no intentions to sound harsh, this question has been gone over
extensively in the past.
The Orchid archives would be a good place to start as one could
almost build a career on the diversity and complexities of working
with white gold
best regards g hoefs
I would use 19AA white gold solder. It is harder and won’t polish
out easily. On that note, make sure you polish across the seams when
done. 14kt white gold hard solder is not bad, but if you use it make
sure you emery down the rings to about a 2/0 level before polish and
you should be fine. The characteristics of gold are different than
silver. The whole ring does not have to be heated up to make the
solder flow on gold as in some silver pieces. It my mind it is