Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What Color Is White Gold?

By Steven Wasser
President, Verne Q. Powell Flutes, Inc.

We all know the answer to the question, “What color was George Washington’s white horse?”  The answer to the question, “What color is white gold?” is not as obvious.  If you look at white gold from a distance it does appear silvery in color, but if you place it side by side against silver, you will see a yellowish tint to it.

Powell 14k White Gold with 14k Rose Gold Keys
Some jewelry is advertised as white gold, but is really yellow gold which has been plated with rhodium or platinum.  In this case the whiter tones of the plating give the impression of white gold even though the underlying material is actually yellow gold.

The 14k white gold alloy Powell uses is comprised first and foremost of 58.4% gold, calculated as 14÷24.  The balance of the gold alloy can be anything else.  Our alloy contains copper, nickel, and silver, with the latter two metals contributing to the “white” color of the gold alloy.  According to the Metals Handbook: Ninth Edition, Verne Powell’s comment about the hardness of white gold and the difficulty of working it was right on target.  “White golds work harden faster and are harder after annealing than gold-silver-copper-based yellow golds.”

Powell uses 14k white gold for flute tubing.  In limited applications we also substitute 10k white gold mechanism tubing for sterling silver where extra hardness and strength is desired to keep the flute keys well adjusted.

The same characteristics that make white gold hard and difficult to work also produce flutes that are especially resonant.

*Gallery - Photos below show a Powell Custom 14k white gold with 14k rose gold keys (photos on left) next to a Powell Custom silver with silver keys (photos on right).

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