White gold is not silver. People often times refer to white gold as silver since it appear and feels like the latter. Partly it is true, since in reality white gold is an alloy of gold and another white metal usually silver or palladium.
The combination of silver or palladium eliminates the yellow gold look and creates the rather white silver appearance. But even if it is an alloy, white gold is still measured in Karats just like ordinary gold. Other white metals used to combine with gold include nickel and platinum.
Each metal used to combine with gold yields varying properties. A nickel based gold alloy, for example, creates a strong and hard metal which makes it ideal to be used for rings and pins. While, white gold-palladium alloys are relatively softer and flexible which make them great for gemstone settings.
However, the disadvantage of using white gold-nickel alloy in body jewelry is that is could cause various skin reactions since nickel is not bio-compatible. Some may have very mild reactions to the metal with only mild itchiness and skin rashes. However, these reactions might turn uglier if they lead to infections. It is therefore best to consider your body chemistry first before buying any type of body jewelry.
Nevertheless, white gold is quite popular as body jewelry. You could find white gold gemstone rings, ladies jewelry, nipple and navel rings, nose studs, earrings and tongue piercing. The reliability of the material has been proven. A lot of people compare white gold to platinum especially when both are used in body jewelry.
Platinum is better as far as jewelry is concerned since it is more abrasive resistant than any other metal available. It has a real white color unlike white gold which is actually a grey steel-like color. Platinum is heavier than gold and lasts longer. However, the most disadvantageous part in platinum based body jewelry is the cost. Whether you believe it or not, pure platinum costs a lot more than gold.
Actually, white gold was created exclusively for jewelry precisely to find less costly alternative for platinum. It was in the 1920s when the alloy was first manufactured for the jewelry and gem industry.
Today, the alloy is a well established material for body jewelry and has its own fashion sense and value. White gold is often used as settings for diamonds and other gemstones enhancing their appeal. Like what was mentioned earlier, white gold is also measured by means of karats. However, white gold can only be produced up to 21 karat.
Now when hear a higher karat white gold, it doesn't mean the gold is whiter. White gold is a combination of gold and other metals. The color is affected by the properties of the metals we add to gold and not the amount of gold. Basically, white gold can be either nickel-whites or palladium-whites.
The main difference of which is that nickel-white gold have a colder white color wherein the palladium whites' color is a little warmer. Also it is very hard to achieve a good nickel white unlike with palladium whites which tends to be softer thus easier to process. Because of the price of palladium, however, palladium whites are a little more expensive.
When buying white-gold, always remember that majority of white gold on the North American market are nickel-whites. The problem with nickel is that around 12-15% of people are allergic to the metal. Skin contact with nickel can cause red skin rash or irritation.