White gold is a popular material for necklaces and other jewelry. Let’s take a look at the most important factors you should pay attention to when buying a white gold chain.
How White Gold Chains Are Made
White gold chains are actually made of regular yellow gold mixed with other metals that make the resulting alloy white.
Even after the mixing, white gold is not completely white but has a yellowish tint.
This is why white gold jewelry is usually coated with rhodium, which has a perfectly white color.
However, the downside of rhodium plating is that it wears away with time, and at some point, you will need to have your white gold chain replated.
Buying a White Gold Chain: Choosing the Karat
The meaning of karats in white gold chains is the same as that in yellow gold jewelry: The higher the karat number, the more gold the chain contains relative to other metals.
For example, a 14-karat white gold chain contains approximately 58% pure gold (14 divided by the maximum possible 24 karats), as does a 14-karat yellow gold necklace.
In general, the higher the karat of your chain, the softer it will be since pure gold is a very malleable metal.
The rhodium plating of white gold compensates for that softness to an extent by making the chain’s surface a bit harder than that of a similar yellow gold piece.
Nevertheless, a higher-karat white gold chain is still going to be relatively softer than a lower-karat one made of the same material.
Does the Chain Contain Nickel?
Some people are allergic to nickel, which is sometimes used in white gold jewelry.
It is true that the rhodium plating of your chain will protect your skin if the underlying material contains nickel, but when the plating wears off and the exposed white gold alloy touches your skin, you might get a rash.
So, if you are allergic to nickel, it is recommended that you look for a white gold chain that is certified as nickel free.
Should Your White Gold Chain Be Solid or Hollow?
Hollow white gold chains are remarkably light and are also cheap. However, keep in mind that such necklaces are also easier to damage as they are less robust than solid pieces.
It is not hard to dent or even break a hollow chain, so if you buy one, you should be very careful when wearing it. If durability is one of your concerns, pay a little bit more and get a solid white gold chain.
Choosing a Link Type for Your Chain
When choosing a link type for your white gold chain, remember that some designs are more prone to kinking and catching on your clothes or hair.
For example, the herringbone chain, the snake chain, and the omega chain are more likely to twist, and the resulting kinks are often very hard to repair without removing links from the necklace.
Good choices for chain links include the curb chain, the wheat chain, the mariner chain, the rope chain, the anchor chain, the Figaro chain, and the box chain. These link types are flexible and not easy to break.
Don’t Forget the Clasp
The choice of a clasp for your white gold chain is crucial as a bad clasp can easily open or break, causing you to lose your jewelry.
One of the best choices is the so-called lobster clasp, which does not open easily by itself and has a robust body.
Spring-loaded clasps, which are usually round, are popular and cheaper, but they are also more likely to break or open accidentally.
How Thick Should Your White Gold Chain Be?
The thickness of your white gold chain is something that comes down to personal choice, but there are a couple of factors to consider.
First, if you are going to put a pendant on your chain, make sure it is thick enough to carry the additional weight; otherwise, if it is too thin, the chain might kink permanently and even break.
Also, consider that thinner chains are easier to twist and get tangled.
Where to Buy White Gold Jewelry?
For white gold jewelry with diamonds, emeralds, rubies, or sapphires, we recommend James Allen (read our review) because it allows you to take a 360-degree look at any stone before buying it. (Also, read our Diamond Buying Guide.)
Don't forget to take a look at the great selection of white gold pieces at Amazon as well as Ross-Simons and Reeds Jewelers.