White gold is simply regular yellow gold alloyed with enough white metals such as palladium, silver and nickel to give it a white color. White gold was first created in the 1920’s as a substitute to a new-found metal in the jewelry industry, platinum. Platinum was and still expensive because it is more rare than gold.
White gold has a more grayish color to it, so it is often coated with another metal such as rhodium, which is in the platinum family. Rhodium is highly reflective and gives the white gold a whiter look.
Unlike pure yellow gold, some people can have allergic reactions to white gold and some low carat yellow gold. About 12.5% of people are allergic to the nickel alloyed into the yellow gold. Most reactions are just rashes on the skin and aren’t life threatening, but more of a nuisance than anything else.
On a more positive note, you can feel safer wearing white gold jewelry over platinum jewelry because white gold is stronger than platinum, more rigid than platinum and the real kicker, half the price. However, platinum does have its benefits over white gold. Read our platinum page for further details.