10, 14, 18 and 24 karat gold

Pure gold is referred to as 24 karat gold. 12 karat (or 12 kt) gold is 50% gold and 50% other metals, typically copper, silver, palladium, zinc, nickel, and/or platinum. Mixing gold with other metals makes the jewelry stronger and can change its color.
We purchase gold casting beads for our custom work that looks like this:
Gold bullion

How is white gold made?

white gold ring without rhodium plating
Gold is yellow when mined but mixing with white metals such as silver, nickel, zinc, palladium or platinum will remove most gold's yellow color. The result is shown at right. Since some color remains, most white gold is electroplated with rhodium to give it its final bright finish and color.

White gold ring with worn rhodium electroplating

Why does my white gold look yellow?

Most likely the rhodium electroplating has worn off, allowing the white gold to show through, as shown at right. We can polish the piece piece and apply rhodium via electroplate for just $36 for an all white gold ring. 

Can white gold be made without rhodium plating?

Yes. Higher concentrations of more expensive and harder to work metals can be used to make plating unnecessary. Our goldsmith does work with such metals in our custom designs.

What is platinum?

Platinum is a metal that's much rarer than gold. All the platinum ever mined would fit in an average sized living room. Its natural color is bright silver gray, and it's about 80% heavier than 14 kt gold. Platinum is cast into jewelry at 90 to 95% purity rather, than 58% for 14 kt gold. Its rarity, its higher weight to volume, and its higher purity all add to the cost. Platinum's toughness also makes it harder to work.

Is platinum or white gold better? Which will look best and last longest?

When new, platinum and rhodium-finished white gold look very similar. Gold is the softer metal, and so small scratches tend to be polished out by simple things like putting your hands in your pockets. However, white gold can be polished less frequently because the rhodium plating will wear away.

Because platinum is tougher, it won't wear away as quickly. However, platinum will scratch and show the scratches more, and it will develop a gray patina finish which some find objectionable. More time and pressure are required to polish platinum. But, one can polish platinum more often than white gold because there's no electroplating to polish away.

What about palladium?

Palladium is one of the newest precious metals used in jewelry. It's as rare as platinum, and is naturally white in color. Some consider palladium a bargain because it enjoys the advantages of platinum at about the cost of 14kt white gold. Working with palladium requires special equipment and a tightly controlled environment. Therefore, not all ring manufactures work with this new metal. Fortunately, Unique Settings of New York does a great job with it. In fact, we just made Katie's newest ring from this great metal and are very pleased.


Please give us a call at 503-682-1100 or stop in