White tungsten is a popular choice for jewelry buyers looking to have the same white metal color as platinum or white gold, but with the strength and durability of Tungsten. White Tungsten is made through bonding rhodium, a platinum group metal, to tungsten, which makes it white like platinum.
The rhodium is heated to a semi molten state and then sprayed on to the tungsten ring at an extremely high velocities. This forms a coating which is very scratch resistant because the material is embedded into the tungsten rings and becomes one with the ring.
White tungsten is also good for the small percentage of people who have nickel allergy. Normal tungsten carbide rings contain nickel even though the low percentage. Rhodium is one of the most hypo-allergenic metals.
Even given all these benefits, some people will still compare white tungsten to platinum or white gold instead. The expense of platinum is cost prohibitive to most, which leaves white gold as a serious consideration for the majority of ring buyers. In order to make an informed decision, consider the characteristics of white tungsten vs white gold.
In short, the differences between white tungsten rings and white gold rings are:
- White gold is an alloy of yellow gold and various other elements.
- Some wearers have a reaction to the nickel content in white gold
- White gold is graded (karats) and hallmarked while tungsten is ungraded.
- White gold is softer than tungsten and easier to scratch
- White tungsten does not contain nickel, but rhodium instead.
Now let’s examine those in more detail.
White gold is an alloy. It is derived from traditional yellow gold that is mixed with a white metal like palladium, manganese or nickel. One common formula is 9 parts gold to 1 part nickel.
Copper and zinc are also often used in jewelry formulations. Also, because of the nickel component, some people find they are allergic to white gold and develop a contact rash where the item is worn.
White gold is graded like yellow gold, by karats. The higher the number, the more gold it contains. Although it is cheaper than yellow gold, white gold is still much more expensive than white tungsten.
The alloy is usually covered with a rhodium plating to even out any resulting off-white coloring. Many people mistakenly believe that this is the color throughout. White gold is softer than white tungsten and is much more prone to scratching.
This makes it unsuitable for everyday wear by people who work in professions that are hard on jewelry. Even consumers in less demanding fields have complained of how easily white gold scratches.