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Why is white gold cheap?

White gold is an alloy made from gold and white metals like nickel, silver, or palladium. Compared to yellow or rose gold, white gold is often less expensive for several reasons.

Lower Gold Content

One of the main reasons white gold is cheaper is that it contains less pure gold than other types of gold. Yellow gold is typically made with 75% pure gold or higher. White gold, on the other hand, often contains 50% or less pure gold.

The remaining composition of white gold is made up of white metals like nickel, zinc, palladium, or silver. These white metals give white gold its silvery color, but also reduce the overall gold content and therefore the cost.

Nickel Content

Many white gold alloys rely on nickel as the primary whitening agent. Nickel is an inexpensive metal compared to gold and palladium. Using nickel allows jewelers to produce white gold at a lower cost compared to gold alloys with more palladium or platinum.

An 18 karat yellow gold alloy contains 75% pure gold. An 18 karat white gold alloy, on the other hand, might contain 75% gold, 16% nickel, and 9% zinc. The nickel and zinc make up 25% of the alloy, reducing the gold content and cost.

Easier to Work With

In addition to lower gold content, white gold alloys are typically easier for jewelers to work with compared to yellow or rose gold. White gold’s hardness makes it suitable for delicate designs and diamond settings.

The malleability of yellow gold requires more time and expertise to craft into intricate jewelry pieces. This added labor increases the jeweler’s production costs. The more workable properties of white gold allow jewelers to produce jewelry faster and cheaper.

Less Demand

From a consumer standpoint, white gold is not as sought after as yellow or rose gold. Through history, yellow gold has been the most popular type of gold for jewelry. Even today, over 80% of gold jewelry sold is yellow or rose gold.

The higher demand but limited supply of yellow gold drives its price higher. The lower popularity of white gold means less demand-driven cost pressure.

When Is White Gold Priced the Same?

While often less expensive, white gold isn’t inherently cheaper than other gold alloys. Certain qualities of white gold may raise its price to be on par with yellow or rose gold:

  • High karat white gold with less nickel – 18 karat white gold with palladium instead of nickel has a higher percentage of pure gold. This makes its intrinsic value closer to 18 karat yellow gold.
  • Labor-intensive craftsmanship – Unique or hand-crafted white gold jewelry will understandably increase the price for the extra time and skill required.
  • Use of platinum – Platinum-based white gold alloys are rarer and therefore command a higher premium.
  • Added gemstones – The type, size, quality, and number of diamonds or other gemstones will factor more into the total cost than the white gold setting itself.

Price Difference Example

To illustrate the typical price difference, let’s compare two simple 14 karat gold wedding bands – one yellow gold, one white gold – with the same weight and design. The yellow gold band contains 58.3% pure gold, while the white gold contains 58.3% gold and nickel to whiten the color.

Wedding Band Gold Content Price
14K Yellow Gold 58.3% pure gold $500
14K White Gold 58.3% gold, Nickel $300

As you can see, simply changing the gold color results in a $200 price difference for the same style ring. This example illustrates the cost savings from both lower gold content and less consumer demand associated with white gold alloys.

Factors That Influence White Gold Pricing

Several factors go into determining the final price of a white gold jewelry piece beyond just the intrinsic metal value:

Karat and Gold Content

The karat denotes the purity of gold in an alloy. 18 karat white gold contains 75% pure gold, while 14 karat white gold contains 58.3% pure gold. Higher karat white gold jewelry commands a higher price.

Metal Mix

As described above, the specific mix of metals impacts the price. Nickel and zinc are cheaper than palladium and platinum. The more gold or pricier palladium in the alloy, the higher the cost. Rhodium plating also adds cost.

Labor Costs

Hand-crafting complex jewelry designs takes considerable time, skill, and labor compared to casting a simple ring. These labor costs get incorporated into the final retail price.

Jeweler Markups

Jewelers apply their own markups or profit margins to the base cost of materials and labor. This allows them to cover their inventory costs and keep their businesses profitable. Typical retail markups range from 100% to several hundred percent.

Brand Name

You’ll pay more for white gold jewelry from top luxury brands like Tiffany & Co. or Cartier. Branded jewelry sells for more than no-name white gold pieces to cover marketing and the customer perception of quality.


Like most retail goods, jewelry prices vary based on where you shop. White gold will be cheaper at online-only retailers compared to physical boutique jewelers in major cities.

How to Get the Best Price on White Gold Jewelry

Here are some tips for getting white gold jewelry at the lowest possible price:

  • Compare prices from multiple retailers online and in-store.
  • Ask about discounts for insured customers or cash/check purchases.
  • Avoid high-markup branded jewelry and go for generic designs.
  • Shop end-of-season clearance sales and holiday promotions.
  • Buy online only or from mass retailers like Costco or Walmart.
  • Purchase pre-owned or vintage pieces through consignment shops and pawn shops.
  • Negotiate prices for unwanted estate jewelry or unique commissioned designs.

Caring for White Gold

To get the most value and longevity from white gold jewelry, proper care and maintenance are essential:

  • Prevent scratches by storing pieces safely in a lined jewelry box.
  • Clean regularly with warm soapy water and a soft cloth.
  • Avoid exposing white gold to chlorine, perfume, lotions, or other chemicals.
  • Remove white gold jewelry before bathing, swimming, exercising, gardening, and cleaning.
  • Be careful not to bang white gold jewelry against hard surfaces which can cause dents.
  • Have white gold checked annually and re-plated as needed to maintain the white color.


At the end of the day, white gold jewelry provides the same elegance and sophistication as yellow or rose gold, just at a more affordable cost. Savvy shoppers can find high-quality white gold pieces at reasonable prices by understanding what makes white gold less expensive and shopping smart.

With proper care and maintenance, inexpensive white gold can still look beautiful and last a lifetime.