White gold became a popular metal in the 1920s. Engagement rings started to be made of it and it was often included in the new Art Deco style. It was considered to be the traditionalists’ response to the modernists’ newer metal and experimental designs.
The metal is not very old and although it looks like platinum, it is actually a much cheaper alternative. Platinum has always been costly and even today it is not particularly a metal for every pocket. After the First World War, more people wanted to break free from the Victorian lifestyle their parents led. Hollywood stars and their jewelry also influenced the style of the mass. White gold actually became, in a way, a “poor man’s platinum”. People could easily emulate the luxury platinum items of the rich class using white gold, which is much more affordable.
White gold engagement rings from this period were beautiful and elegant but they had an appearance of dullish grey. This is mostly because this is not pure gold and depending on what other metal has been used, the shades varied.
In the 1930s, Rhodium was used on the silverware so it can shine equally with less polish. This practice then became common for white gold as well and this new element gave white gold the shining look we are accustomed to, nowadays. Rhodium itself is a very expensive metal as it is rarer than platinum as well and it is a very hard metal by itself.
However, only after the Second World War, Rhodium plating started to become a more common practice. This is exactly when diamonds also started to become popular, mainly due to the huge advertising from De Beers. When these two were brought together, people realised how the white gold can enhance the dazzle and shine of the diamond, another white stone. That, consequently, led to the popularity of white gold engagement rings.
Nowadays, people are more concerned with how gold and gemstones are procured. Rhodium plating has become a complicated practice as sulphuric acid is used in the plating process which leads to environmental hazards once it enters the water system.
However, white gold engagement rings continue to become more popular every passing day. You can choose from the vintage designs or the ultra-modern designs. This metal is just perfect to accentuate the brilliance of other gemstones like diamonds, sapphires, rubies or emeralds. Many women chose a contrasting gemstone to enhance the complexion of the stone.