White color is a popular choice for gold, gold that’s used in jewelry that is. The reason why that is the case probably lies in the fact that it’s the cheaper alternative, or should I say was a cheaper alternative to platinum jewelry. Platinum has a similar color, but in the past it was more expensive than gold, now price of gold and platinum are somewhere around the same, that’s why more and more people are starting to be interested in jewelry made from platinum. It’s also possible that white gold was more popular because gold has been used in jewelry for quite some time now, while the same is not true for platinum. In any case if you are in the market for jewelry made from white metals you should probably know how to read between various markings that can be found on white jewelry, because there are several different metals that can be mistaken for each other.
People usually have problems telling apart between white gold, platinum, palladium, silver and stainless steel. These three metals, and two alloys have very similar color, some of them like palladium and platinum also have very similar physical characteristics, they are members of the platinum group. Notice that I said three metals and two alloys, that’s because white gold and stainless steel aren’t elements, you won’t find the in the periodic table of elements. White gold is a mixture of gold and some other white metal, it can be a non-precious metal like nickle but in most cases silvery-white precious metals like palladium or silver are used. Stainless steel is also an alloy, it’s a mix of steel and chromium sometimes other metals can be found to improve the color, at least when we are talking about jewelry. Stainless steel jewelry isn’t as popular as that made from white gold, platinum and all of the others, but it exists, and if you are interested in jewelry made from precious metals and someone tries to sell you stainless steel under false pretenses, then it would be a good thing to know, at least to some extent how stainless steel can be spoted. If you don’t, you will pay too much for something that’s worth only a fraction of the price of white gold or platinum.
We’re gonna talk about simple methods that you can use in order to detect these metals, something that you can use quickly and without any kind of additional tools, like acids, scratch needles which are by the way destructive. Simple methods like the ones that we’re gonna talk about can be used at the counter in the jewelry store where it’s very impractical to conduct acid tests, not that you would be allowed if you would be willing to do so. Something as drastic as an acid test isn’t necessary if you shop around in well reputed stores, even if they cost a bit more, that way you decrease the chances of the jeweler selling you fake precious metals.
Markings together with shopping at well known jewelry stores are the best thing which you can use in order to find out from which metal a certain jewelry piece has been made of. White gold will have the same markings like regular gold, its purity stamped in karats. So if you come across whiteish jewelry which has karats written somewhere on its inside, then you are probably dealing with white gold. Important thing to note when it comes to white gold is that there’s no such thing as 24 karat white gold. I’m sure that you can see why, in order for the gold to be white it has to be mixed with other metals, the maximum purity that white gold can have is 22K, the remaining two karats have to be some kind of white metal so that gold starts exhibiting white color.
Platinum and palladium are two very similar metals, in color and also in physical characteristics. Their markings are different, most platinum and palladium manufacturers do not use karats in order to declare the purity of the metal from which the jewelry is made of, they use words like “Plat”, “Pt”, “Platinum” for platinum or “Pall”, “Pl” and “Palladium” for palladium. Purity isn’t declared specifically because it’s been agreed that purity of palladium and platinum is always somewhere around 90 and 95%, but it’s not that uncommon to find purity of the metal declared next to words, not in karats though, rather in millesimal fineness, so the full marking on platinum and palladium would be “Plat 900” or “Pall 900”, respectively.
Silver has a similar marking methods and similar methods of production, in fact according to the FTC regulations, an alloy has to contain minimally 90% of silver in order to be considered genuine silver. This is the same like it is with platinum and palladium, so like with these other two, on silver you can find words “Ster”, “St”, “Sterling” which is the name for silver alloy that is minimally 90% pure. Next to markings another thing that you can use in order to detect silver is it’s color. Unlike platinum, palladium and white gold, color of silver is dull, it doesn’t have the luster that the previously mentioned metals have.
While we’re talking about colors, it a good idea to mention that stainless steel, even though its color is similar to those of previously mentioned metals, stainless steel color is bit more grayish, plain stainless steel at least. You can find both silver and stainless steel with highly reflective finish, but tone of the color will be darker than those of platinum, white gold and palladium. These three usually have the same color, because white gold is in a lot of situations plated white rhodium, another metal from platinum group, in order to have higher luster and shine. Weight is another thing that can be used to differentiate between stainless steel, silver and precious metals. Jewelry of the same size made from white gold and platinum group of metals will weigh more because it has higher density. Stainless steel also has markings, which represent quality grade, one that’s used in jewelry is 316L.