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Is white gold naturally found?

White gold is an alloy made from mixing pure yellow gold with white metals like silver, palladium or nickel. This gives the gold a white color, instead of its natural yellow tone. White gold is commonly used for jewelry, but is it actually found in nature?

What is white gold?

White gold is an alloy containing gold and at least one white metal, making the naturally yellow gold appear white in color. The most common alloy mixes gold with nickel, silver or palladium.

The white metals dilute the yellow color to create a white looking metal. The gold content in white gold varies, but generally ranges from 75-91.7%. The remaining composition is the added white metal(s).

Here is the typical composition of white gold:

Metal Percentage
Gold 75-91.7%
Nickel 0-20%
Silver 0-20%
Palladium 0-25%
Zinc 0-20%

The most common white gold alloy is 75% gold, 4% silver and 21% copper. The copper provides durability while the silver creates the white color.

Nickel was historically the most popular white metal for white gold. But many people are sensitive to nickel, so palladium and silver are growing in popularity.

Is white gold found naturally?

No, white gold does not occur naturally. It is an alloy created by mixing yellow gold with white metals.

In its natural form, gold is yellow in color. While grains of pure gold may occasionally be pale yellow, gold does not naturally occur as a white metal.

The white color is only achieved when extra metals like nickel or palladium are added to the gold. This dilutes the warm yellow tone and creates a silver or gray appearance.

There are a few reasons why white gold does not exist in nature:

Gold alloying does not happen naturally

For a white gold alloy to form, the gold would have to randomly mix with 20-25% white metals in nature. This does not happen.

When gold is mined, it may contain small amounts of silver or copper. But not enough to turn the appearance white.

The intentional alloying only occurs when gold is refined and processed. Jewelers deliberately add palladium or nickel to create white gold for jewelry and décor.

The conditions are not right

Natural gold forms in metallic veins deep underground. The temperature and pressure cause gold atoms to take on the distinct yellow color.

These conditions do not allow for the incorporation of other metals at a concentration high enough to mask the yellow color.

While minerals like nickel, copper and silver may be present in the surrounding ore, they do not bond with the gold at high enough percentages to make it appear white.

Gold readily forms pure deposits

Due to gold’s chemical properties, it readily forms in concentrated, pure deposits. When liquid gold cools and solidifies, it separates cleanly rather than mixing with other metals.

This makes it very easy to mine veins of nearly 100% pure yellow gold. There is no natural dilution effect turning the gold white.

Are there white metals similar to white gold?

While natural white gold is not found, there are a few naturally-occurring white metals with a similar white color and shine:


Silver is a naturally-occurring white metal, often mined from the same regions as gold. When polished, silver has a high shine and white color that resembles white gold alloys.

However, silver is less malleable than gold. It tarnishes faster and is overall less durable. Silver is around 75% less expensive than the equivalent weight of gold.


Palladium is a precious white metal in the platinum family. It has a brilliant white luster when polished.

Palladium is one of the metals used for making white gold alloys. It is also used in electronics, dentistry and jewelry by itself. Palladium is rare and costs around 50% less than gold.


Platinum is another precious metal that is white. It is extremely durable with a lustrous shine. The white color stays very stable.

Platinum is denser and around 50% more expensive than gold. It is also used in jewelry. While not a perfect match, platinum has a similar white color to palladium- or nickel-based white gold alloys.

White metals summary

Here is a comparison of natural white metals versus white gold:

Metal Naturally occurring? Color Properties
White gold No White to gray Malleable, durable, scratch resistant
Silver Yes Bright white Tarnishes over time
Palladium Yes White Durable, rare
Platinum Yes White Dense, durable


In summary, white gold does not occur naturally. The white color is only achieved when extra metals are alloyed with gold under industrial conditions.

While natural white metals like silver, palladium and platinum exist, they have slightly different properties from white gold alloys. The color may be similar, but the metals are not exact matches.

So in its pure form, gold remains a sunny yellow color. The brilliant white luster of white gold is only possible thanks to modern metallurgy and jewelry manufacturing.