Controlling Your Personal Finances While Running A Business

Don't Assume What You Have Is Silver – It Could Be Gold And Worth More Than You Think

When you plan to sell gold for cash, you likely look through all the yellow gold you have to see what you're willing to part with. But you might want to look through the non-gold stuff as well. Sometimes what you think is old silver can actually be white gold. It's not always the case, but white gold that isn't covered with another metal called rhodium is often a bit darker than people realize, and that can lead to some interesting discoveries as you go through your jewelry stash.

Why Does White Gold Exist?

White gold is a percentage of yellow gold mixed with silver and palladium. Gold fineness, or the percentage of the metal that is actual gold, is measured in karats, and as the karat number shrinks, so too does the amount of actual gold in the mix. 24-karat gold is always yellow as there are no other metals mixed in — that's pure gold, and is often too soft to be used in jewelry. Yellow gold is mixed with other metals to give it better hardness and durability, and in the case of white gold and rose gold, to give the metal a different color.

White gold allows people who prefer metal colors like silver to still wear gold itself. Not everyone is into that golden glow, so white gold is often preferred in these cases.

Yellow gold alloys include mainly silver, copper, and some zinc at 22 karats. Rose gold alloys are similar but with a higher percentage of copper and no zinc. White gold is a mix of yellow gold, silver, palladium, and a tiny bit of zinc at 9 karats.

White gold is often plated with rhodium to change the color even more. White gold itself, when it is not plated with rhodium, is still white compared to yellow gold. But the metal has a darker cast to it that can sometimes appear either yellowed or almost like older, mildly tarnished silver. It's smooth and clean, and it looks good, but it doesn't have that glittery, icy quality that plated white gold has. That means that what you might think is somewhat tarnished silver could actually be white gold.

Check for a hallmark, which is a marking that denotes the maker and the karat value; if you see something like 10K, 10KT, 14K, or similar, you've likely got gold on your hands.

White Gold Karats Are the Same as Yellow Gold Karats

Keep in mind that the karat mark you see on white gold is the same one you'd see on yellow gold. In other words, if you have 14-karat white gold, that's got the same percentage of actual gold as 14-karat yellow gold. The other metals in the alloy are just different for white gold and create that whiter hue. If you see that hallmark or have the piece tested and are told you have white gold, contact gold buyers about whether or not they'll buy it. Most should, although you may encounter a few who want only yellow gold simply out of preference.

White gold that hasn't been rhodium-plated, or whose plating is wearing off, can often take on a darker hue that can make the item look a bit like older silver that is tarnishing a bit. While silver is valuable, it won't get you as much money as gold will. If you think you might have white gold but aren't sure, contact those gold buyers and ask if they have ways of testing the pieces you have. You could find you've got more money in that metal than you thought.