Ask The Jewelry Expert... WHITE GOLD: Nickel or Palladium Alloy?
White Gold jewelry has been both a blessing and a curse to manufacturers as well as clients. The blessing is that you can get the look of Platinum for about 1/4th the cost. The curse is that 14k White Gold is still 58.4% pure Gold & 18k Gold is 75% pure Gold. Pure Gold is Yellow. To make it white manufacturers add Nickel or Palladium as a whitening alloy. Nickel is cheaper, but corrodes and turns yellow over time. Palladium does not yellow and wears better over time, but is more expensive.
Nickel Alloy 14K Nickel White is the formula most used by commercial jewelry manufacturers in the USA. Nickel is an inexpensive alloy and very white. 14K Nickel White (14KW), often called "Standard White", "Bright White", or "Soft Nickel White", is easy to cast, finish and set translating into less expensive 14KW gold jewelry. The problem with 14KW jewelry is that Nickel is a Ferrous metal and is prone to stress cracking and corrosion. It is also yellow tinted in color. Chlorine and Bromide (found in cleaning agents, hot tubs, swimming pools, etc.) react to the Nickel and other alloys in 14KW causing corrosion just like rust on iron. Nickel is also brittle and will crack over time due to the stress of everyday wear. In commercial jewelry Price trumps Quality, so all 14KW jewelry is Rhodium plated to look more like Platinum. But the plating will wear down within weeks exposing the jewelry's true color...Yellowish White.
Palladium Alloy Palladium White is the best White Gold alloy available. It is the European Standard Hallmark. Palladium is a Precious Metal and does not corrode like Nickel. 14KPW has good durability, is white/grey in color like Platinum, is 15% more dense than standard 14KW, is suitable for secure stone setting and malleable (does not stress crack), it does not have a yellowish tint and does not need to be Rhodium plated. So why is it not used commercially? 14KPD is 35% more expensive than 14KNW. Commercial jewelry retailers and manufacturers are more concerned with short-term Profits than long-term Quality. Since 1999, JWD has offered clients the option of inexpensive standard 14KW or more expensive 14KPD. Most choose the cheaper alloy not realizing the long-term effects.
The long-term benefit of Palladium and the corrosive effect of Nickel is too important to ignore. Please consider 14kPW or 18KPW as your white gold of choice.
Compare the "whiteness" difference between each popular white jewelry metal alloy.
J. West Jewelry Designs Independent Custom Jewelry Designer Since 1999 . 8465 KEYSTONE CROSSING, INDIANAPOLIS, IN 46240 By Appointment Only.