Which white precious metal should you choose for your jewellery? In the high street all white gold, platinum and palladium rings are rhodium plated to make them look the same colour in the display widow. However rhodium plating is a temporary finish and especially on rings where they rub against things daily, it will wear off within a few months. This can leave you confused and wondering why your ring does not look as bright as when you first purchased it. A trip back to the jewellers will mean a charge of £40-60 to have the plating put back on. This is why when we are designing a bespoke ring or piece of jewellery we like to explain the different properties and colours of every available precious white metal. This way you can manage your final result to match other pieces of jewellery and have the white shade you prefer without the hassle of rhodium plating often. The eye is incredibly sensitive to colour shades. If you look at any of the metals pictured in the ring stack on their own they will look white. It is only when they are put next to each other that you will notice that they are different colours. This is why rhodium plating makes a ring look worse as it wears off, because the whiteness of the rhodium will make your white gold not look white to the eye. Also bear in mind that you will want all the rings on one hand to be in the same white metal or your eye will pick out the subtle variations in white shade and make some rings look white and others darker or coloured.
The different white metals have different hardnesses and densities from each other making each one appropriate for certain types of design, they also are very different in price to each other.
From the bottom up: platinum, 18ct white gold, 9ct white gold, palladium, silver
Platinum is a very pale grey white, it is twice as dense as silver. If you hold the same size ring, one in platinum and one in silver in each hand, you will easily notice the difference in weight. This makes platinum the best choice for fine metalwork such as diamond claws. The density of the metal also means that we can put on a higher degree of polish on the ring and that it will maintain it for longer than the softer alternatives.
Platinum was the idea material for these interlocking engagement and wedding rings. Tough enough to be worn every day
18ct white gold looks brownish grey and is the darkest shade of white precious metal available. It looks fantastic in a two tone wedding ring paired one of the other white precious metals or on it’s own as a wedding ring in a brushed finish and at 1.5 times the weight of silver will feel valuable. We do not recommend it is used with white diamonds or in fine jewellery as it can look dark against the paler stones and would ideally need rhodium plating to look it’s best. It will always be worth paying that little bit extra for platinum which is much stronger too.
Rough hammered wedding rings in various widths and metals
9ct white gold looks pale yellow against the others so if, as your rhodium plating wears off, your ring begins to look yellow it is probally 9ct white gold underneath. Once the rhodium is gone the ring will start to look white to you again. So why not start with the colour that it is? It holds it’s polish well and if platinum and 18ct gold is out of your price range 9ct white gold is a good choice over silver as it does not tarnish quite so quickly to black. Where weight is a concern, perhaps for earrings with a high metal content it is only 1.2 times as heavy as silver.
Square 9ct white rose and yellow gold bangles
Palladium is a dark grey and it’s main use is in heavy wedding bands. It looks similar to platinum but is a cheaper option. It is quite soft, this and it’s dark colour means it is not an ideal material for mounting diamonds and for making fine jewellery.
Brushed palladium wedding ring
Silver, so called because of it’s colour is a true silver colour and the whitest of the white metals. It is of a similar hardness to 18ct white gold so soft compared to platinum. The main reason for not using it in fine jewellery apart from this is that it tarnishes quite quickly to black. the places it will tarnish most quickly will be around your stone and behind the gems reducing their brilliance. If you want a vintage look or if the jewellery is designed for large cabochons it can look fantastic. A pattern can be picked out in a process called oxidisation so that it looks stronger from the start.
Silver and diamond oxidised dress ring
We also can remake your old white gold or platinum jewellery. Generally 950 platinum can be remade with no difficulty and with a good cost saving. We remake in the other white metals only if there is a sentimental reason for doing so. This is because older white gold alloys sometimes contain metals that are now banned for jewellery use such as nickle and cadmium. These metals used to be added as whitening or hardening agents but have been found to be irritants. You may think that you are allergic to white gold or silver because of these metals. Silver is relatively cheap and the cost of reclaiming it is often more than using commercially recycled and prepared silver so we replace it like for like in commissions unless you tell us not to.
If any aspect of choosing which white precious metal is for you call one of our expert team for a chat on 01273 846338