A common question many people have with regards to white gold is whether it has the same value as yellow gold. The short answer to this question is yes. It is the gold content in the white gold that primarily determines its value and price.
White gold is an alloy, made by combining gold with other metals. When considering the worth of white gold, we have to take into account the purity of the gold as well as the types of other metals used.
White Gold Alloys
White gold was initially created as a more affordable substitute for platinum. While it has the color and luster of platinum, it does not have the high cost. In order to create white gold, pure gold is mixed with other metals, commonly manganese, palladium, platinum, silver, nickel or zinc. White gold is actually not really ‘white’. In fact, it can range from faint yellow to brownish tints. It is the rhodium plating that gives the metal its platinum look and lustrous finish.
The higher the percentage of these added metals in the alloy, the ‘whiter’ the gold. The most common white gold alloys are gold-silver-palladium or gold-nickel-copper-zinc. Palladium and nickel are the main metals that lighten the gold to white.
While white gold that includes nickel is the most durable and the strongest of white gold alloys, as well as the whitest, nickel allergies is fairly common so this can cause reactions for people with such sensitivities.
While the critical factor in determining the worth of the white gold lies in the amount of gold in it, the value of these other metals can also have an impact. If more expensive metals such as platinum is used in the alloy, it can raise the price slightly. The rhodium coating on the white gold can also add to the price of the metal.
Calculating the Pure Gold Content in White Gold
Regardless of the alloy, all white gold must contain least a minimum of 50 percent of gold. The total number of karats in pure gold is 24, but because 24K gold is generally considered too soft to be used in most types of jewelry, it is mixed with other metals to increase durability and strength.
The purity of gold in white gold is stated in karats. So, in order to find out the worth of your white gold, you first need to know how many gold karats it contains. Check for the hallmark, or the number, stamped into the metal which indicates this karatage. White gold is commonly found in 9K, 12K, 14K and 18K varieties.
But how much gold do these numbers refer to?
To find out you simply have to divide the number of karats in your jewelry by the total value of karats in gold, which is 24.
For example, divide 12 by 24 and you know that 12K white gold contains 50% pure gold and 50% alloys. 18K gold contains 75% pure gold.
White gold does not have its own hallmarks but is generally stamped with the same hallmarks used for gold. These include: .417 for 10K gold, .587 for 14K gold, .750 for 18K gold. As is obvious, these numbers refer to the percentage of gold in the alloy.
If you want to find out how many grams/ounces of pure gold is in your white gold, you will first need to weigh it. Take care not to include the weight of gemstones or other components in your white gold when checking its weight. Once you know how heavy your white gold is, apply the percentage of gold purity to its weight.
For example: If a 14K item weighs .5 ounces, then the amount of pure gold in it is .29 ounces (.5 x 58%).
Now that you know how much pure gold you have, you can simply check this against the current gold market price. Bear in mind that as white gold is an alloy and will need to be refined, the price you receive for it may be lower than the market price for gold.