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32. Our White Gold Journey (To Date)
Sunday, 08 Oct 2017

Ever since we started offering it, white gold has been causing us problems.

Our earliest castings were produced in Bangkok, by a company that didn't like to give away much information about the composition of their alloys. Their product was fairly white, but oh-so-hard to work with. It was so #^&&*## hard that in the end I gave up on it altogether, and informed potential customers that we would no longer offer white gold at all.

Then I came to know of the existence of Legor, a reputable Italian company with an outlet in Bangkok. They have many white-gold master alloys, among which was one that contained only silver as the whitening agent (unlike the previous company, which used nickel as the whitening (and hardening!!!!) agent). Using this master alloy produced a white gold that was relatively soft, which made re-sizing castings quite easy, so that is what we have been using for quite some time.

There were a couple of drawbacks though : there were some problems with porosity in the castings, and silver isn't a particularly effective whitening agent, meaning that even 10K white gold looked a bit yellow. With the proportions of gold and silver needed to create 14K gold, the result was so-called green gold. 

Because of these drawbacks I looked for, and found, an alternative caster of white gold here in Chiang Mai, so tested him out. He said he used a United master alloy (United PM is an American company with a branch in Bangkok) called T5, which I understood to be nickel-free. The result was pretty good, as you can see from the photo, so we thought our problems with white gold were over.

Not so.

During the latest Bangkok Gem Show (Sept '17) I visited United's booth, and discovered that T5 did in fact contain nickel, meaning that T5 was off the menu. I was introduced to another master alloy that did not contain nickel, but silver and Indium, among other things. I thought I would then have to experiment with this new alloy upon my return to Chiang Mai, but fate intervened.

Because I had in the back of my mind that I needed a small square diamond for a potential customer, I noticed as I wandered around that some guy was putting up a small sign advertising a diamond sale. I discovered that the company he works for does a bit of just-about-everything concerning jewelry, and happened to start moaning to him about my problems with white gold. That is when he told me that his company casts white gold, and that, being British, their white gold was nickel-free. 

Apart from nickel, about the only metals used as a whitener in gold are silver (mentioned before), and palladium. I had already made a few inquiries before about palladium-containing master alloys, since Legor has a number of them, but discovered that my usual casting guy in Chiang Mai has never had success casting gold that contains it, due to the "stickiness" of the molten metal.  

Despite all this, here was Dave telling me that not only did his company cast its own palladium white gold, but that they were willing to accept small orders from people such as myself.


Now I need to place an order so that I can check for myself that there are no unforeseen problems, and so that we have a sample to take some photos of, so that we can show you what it looks like.