White Gold Engagement Rings: Nickel or Palladium Alloy?
Posted: Oct 21, 2014
White gold engagement rings seem like both a blessing and a curse for many people. One of the benefits of white gold is that it achieves the look of platinum at a far lower price, and of course, you can still say your engagement ring is made from gold, which has often been associated with wealth, wisdom and divinity. However, the primary problem with white gold engagement rings is that white gold is still gold - which is yellow - so in order to make it white, manufacturers must add either nickel or palladium. But which one is best?
Nickel alloy in white gold engagement rings is most commonly used by commercial jewellery manufacturers in the US as it is a fairly inexpensive alloy, as well as being very durable and heat treatable. However, the problem with nickel is that it is ferrous metal and prone to stress-cracking, breaking and corrosion, especially with everyday use. It also is yellow-tinted in colour which requires nickel-alloyed gold to be rhodium plated in order to resemble platinum. However, this plating is not permanent and will gradually wear away, leaving your ring a yellowish-white in colour.
Palladium white is considered the best white gold alloy available and is most often used in Europe, which has restricted the use of nickel, as some people are allergic to the metal. Palladium has many advantages in that it does not corrode or stress-crack, so it is more suitable for secure stone settings. And best of all, it does not have a yellowish tint but is a lustrous silvery-white and thus does not need to be rhodium plated. However, palladium white gold does require a temperature in excess of 2000 Fahrenheit, which is above the temperature where investment castings begin to suffer from porosity. Despite palladium white gold’s being the better metal and the most similar to platinum, nickel is still often used in commercial jewellery where price and profits tend to trump quality, particularly when you consider that nickel is perhaps seven dollars per pound while palladium is around $3, 600 per pound.
While jewellers do sometimes offer clients the choice between nickel or palladium when it comes to the creation of white gold engagement rings, many choose the cheaper alloy, not realising its long-term effects. It is entirely up to you and your partner which one you choose, though if you must compromise on the colour for good working properties and a lower budget, make sure you use good, durable rhodium plating.
Frederick Holm is staff writer for of the F&L Designer Guides, compiled and written to help consumers choose a unique engagement ring design. Whether you want white gold engagement ring a princess cut diamond or an engraved band, we have ideas and opinions covering all the options. Offering advice, tips and suggestions on how to choose that perfect ring, F&L will accompany you on every stage of your search to find the right designer.
Writer and Online Marketing Manager in London.