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How to Differentiate White Gold?

As treasure hunters, we often uncover white metallic objects from our excavation sites. And if you are an amateur, you will most likely come up into a conclusion that it is probably just another piece of ordinary metal scrap that you found. What most amateurs do not know is that, there is actually a so called “White Gold” which has very close similarities to silver and platinum in terms of their physical looks or appearance.

When it comes to the market price value of gold, white is comparable to yellow but provided that, the two objects being compared are equal in “purity”.

So in order not to throw any of your precious findings by mistake, it is very important that you must know how to identify and differentiate white gold objects from ordinary silver metals that you found.

White Gold do not tarnish

The easiest method to differentiate and recognize white gold from silver is due to a natural cause of metals from being “tarnished”. Majority of ordinary metals including silver when tarnished will turn dark gray or slightly darker from their original or polished color. If silver get tarnished, it requires polishing in order to restore back its white gold appearance.

If it happens that the object you found does not tarnish, it means that the object you found is either white gold or platinum. You should be a lot happier if the object you found is a platinum because this kind of precious metal is a lot more expensive than the white or yellow gold. The reason is that, platinum is actually 30 times more rare than gold. Thus, there is a higher demand for this type of rare metal which makes it the most expensive type of metal on the market today.

Durability or Hardness

In terms of hardness, white gold in comparison to silver is softer but not to the point that it can be easily scratched. In comparison to the yellow gold, white version is more durable. The durability of gold is actually dependent on their “Karats”. If gold has a high number of karat then it is more likely to be soft. Thus, white gold being used and crafted by jewelry makers are from 10K to 14K and are often plated with rhodium to enhance wear resistance.

Composition

White gold is actually made of yellow gold but mixed with other metals that can strongly influence the gold’s yellow color to turn into white. Commonly used white metals are nickel, palladium, platinum and manganese. Copper, zinc or silver are also added. However, when it was found out that copper and silver produce undesirable color oxides from being exposed on air. If worn as a jewelry (such as ring, bracelet, chain necklace and etc…) especially when it makes prolonged contact to the skin, it will leave bluish-green stains in the process.

Color

Majority of individuals got the wrong knowledge about white gold having the color of shiny white metal. This color is actually due to “plating”. The most commonly used material for plating white gold is “rhodium”. Without such plating, the true color of white gold is not really white but something close to gray, dull brown or pale pink.

Aside from rhodium, another commonly used plating for white gold are platinum alloys. This type of platinum used for plating is commonly alloyed with iridium, ruthenium or cobalt for the purpose of making the white gold more durable. Platinum is actually naturally white which makes it perfect for plating.

Nickel and palladium are also commonly used coating for white gold.

Testing White Gold

The best method to test white gold is through the use of sophisticated equipment that only individuals working at the gold industry or certified jeweler have access. There is also an “Acid Test” method but most of you my dear readers may have some issues with the availability of such product in your region.

Thus on this post, let’s discuss the most basic methods that you surely have access to the tools required and perform the test at the comfort of your home.

1. Magnet Test

On this method, you only need a magnet and the stronger its attraction to metals the better. The trick here is that, any objects made of pure gold cannot be magnetized. However, there are some white gold objects mixed with small amount of magnetic materials particularly jewelries which makes them slightly magnetized. If this is the case, it could actually give confusion and doubts about the authenticity of the object where you must perform other testing methods.

Note: Aluminum is also a commonly used material mixed with gold and it cannot be attracted by a magnet. Be aware that many scammers use aluminum mixed with gold to trick their buyers or victims.

2. Float Test Method

You need a cup or bowl filled with water then drop the object in test and observe if it will either float or sink. Any authentic gold will immediately sink down at the bottom while a fake one will either float or hover above the bottom of the container.

3. Smartphone Apps

Surely, majority of you guys already have their own smartphones. And through such amazing devices, you can actually perform a test to a certain object to determine the presence of gold in it. There are actually several lists of available apps that can perform such task but there are currently only two of them that I best recommend. For iPhone users, I recommend the “CoinTrust” application while “Bullion Test” for Android users. If you know any other similar apps with better accuracy then you might want to share them on the Comment Form down below.

Moreover, if you determined that the gold you found (white or yellow) is less than 10 Karats, it is actually considered as “fake” by American Standards.

View Comments (13)

  • Anonymous says:
    • Anonymous says:

      Sir Elmo, happy new year.

      Have you heard about this crab like gold detector? maybe you have knowledge about this. Thank you.

    • No, I haven't heard about it unless you can tell me the exact brand and model of that equipment.

  • Good day Sir Elmo, I have found marking of signs on a big rock. It is shape with a heart and hole inside it. What does it means Sir? Please reply. Thank you.

    • The heart is a marking that confirms that presence of a hidden deposit on that area. Since there is a hole inside it, it means that the deposit is hidden on that particular spot.

  • Sir Elmo Good day! I have an on-going project here in PH. I just wanted to ask something about flat-like-blue color and slippery cement(very hard to break). Before that blue-like-color cement, we came across a very hard cement, brown-like-color and slippery too. The cement is positioned with an inclination. What can you say about it? Are we near to the object? Thanks for your answer and any advice you can give is very much appreciated.

    • Pardon me Sir Elmo. my statement is wrong. The explanation of one of the diggers in our project is wrong. Please let me rephrase my statement awhile ago. The "blue-like-cement" is not actually like the "brown-like-cement" which is flat and slippery. The blue-like-cement which the digger is talking is actually part of the brown-like-cement. It's actually inside the brown-like-cement. Half of our hole is only what they excavated so far and based on their observation, this cement is still thick because they only ground up approximately 1 foot of the half of the hole. And beyond that 1 foot, it's still so very hard.

      To add further Sir Elmo, the blue-like-cement is like a stone and surrounded by a white cement. I can draw a picture of the layer of the cement as our operation continues so far. Just give me an email I can send it to. Please Sir, I really need your reply to this. I'm going to visit the site on Saturday. Thanks.

      • Sir, I got the picture of our project. I can send it to you for you to analyze it. Thanks.

        • Send it to may FaceBook page account. You can PM it to me.

      • It's obviously a marker. Encountering cement or concrete that is so hard to penetrate usually means that you are dealing with the seal. Anyway, it's a good marker where you just have to keep breaking your way through it. There is a chemical that can help you break such kind of specialized cement but sad to say that they are really hard to acquire these days.

        • Sir thanks for your reply. I have already PM it on your FB account (treasures and antiques). My screen name there is Pedro Penduco. Pardon me Sir, but it is necessary to protect my identity so I have to use another account. Hope you understand me. Thank you very much!

        • Sir? I already PM it on your account. Please check the photos and drawing. We are already in the 4th layer cement (hard). But as we proceed even further, the cement seems to be getting softer. And on the 4th layer, a black cement is mixed in the brown cement. It's not an asphalt but looks like a dust charcoal.

          • Okay, I still need to check the photos first. There is a long list of other PMs that's why I still haven't check it yet.

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