The White Metals Used in Jewellery Making

As an escape from jewellery made with yellow gold we often look for other coloured metals. There is of course rose or pink gold, green gold and green gold as well as some other varieties. However, the traditional other color which has been and still is highly popular is white or silver. Silver is a great color but some people want to see more glitter and silver has that awful negative aspect of tarnishing. So what are the choices of white? We have silver, white gold, platinum and palladium. These are our major choices today.

Let's look at Platinum first. It commands the highest price because it is more precious than gold. It is out of most people's budget today.

But is has some wonderful qualities. It can get a fantastic high polish and is a very tough, scratch resistant and tarnish free metal. It can be combined with yellow gold to make a two tone item.

In the 18th century Louis the fifteenth considered it the metal fit for a king. South American natives called it Platina or little silver and thought of it as an impurity in their silver. Today it is still on the top of the tree for white jewelry.

Then there is white gold itself. What is white gold? It is an alloy of more than one metal. It starts off as yellow gold as we know gold, and then we mix in bits of other whiter metals until the whole thing turns into a white alloy which we call white gold.

White gold looks great and can be combined with yellow gold to make very attractive combinations. It has a downside in that the yellow gold wants to show through. We have a solution for this: we plate the item with another expensive white metal called Rhodium.

Next comes Palladium which is one of the platinum group of metals. It has been used as a jewelry metal since 1939 and is becoming very popular now as gold is becoming so expensive. Why do I think this metal is on the rise? Think about it this way: it is lighter, stronger, cheaper, brighter and more attractive than 18 carat white gold. Finally let's come back to Silver. Silver is a cheap precious metal. It is easy to work with and freely available.

It is a good alternative to more expensive gold. The disadvantage of silver is that it tarnishes. Well there are two ways around that. The first is common practice and is the same treatment that is used for white gold: we plate it with Rhodium.

But today there is an even better alternative. A clever Australian jeweller from Victoria has made an alloy of silver which is still called Sterling Silver which almost does not tarnish. It costs a tiny bit more than normal silver which tarnishes.

Gary Hocking makes custom jewellery specializing in Australian opals. He has his own website Feel free to use this article as long as you keep the bio and the live link to his website.

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