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White Gold Pearl Ring - Choosing a White Gold Pearl Ring

Pearl Before Shine

pearls rings expensive mollusks

White gold pearl rings consist of any manner of pearl set in a ring of colored gold alloy. They are sometimes used as an alternative to diamond engagement rings or used to augment the traditional gold wedding band. Understanding the relative values of white gold pearl rings requires familiarity with both white gold jewelcrafting and the relative values of different pearls.

White gold is a platinum substitute made by alloying gold with a white metal such as silver, palladium, or nickel. The choice of alloyed metals has a slight impact on the white gold, with silver being lustrous, nickel cheap, and palladium common. The least expensive alloys are more of a pale yellow than white—these are coated with rhodium to stain the metal white. Rhodium jewelry tends to yellow with age as well, but jewelers can recoat the metal for a nominal fee of $20-$40. A rhodium-coated white gold pearl ring would cost roughly half as much as its platinum counterpart, and only discerning eyes will notice the difference.

Pearls are formed in many ways. Fake pearls, or “faux” pearls are manufactured in factories and used more often in costume jewelry than white gold pearl rings. Faux pearls can be easily identified by their smooth texture. Organic pearls are a true gemstone, however, formed by mollusks in response to foreign irritants within their shells. True “wild” pearls are both rare and expensive, which is why more common by far are “cultured” pearls, which are formed on pearl farms by hand-placed irritants that provoke the pearl-making cycle of mollusks. Both types of pearl are slightly rough to the touch, and the only reliable way to tell the difference between cultured pearls and the far more expensive wild pearls is by x-raying the gem to see whether the initial irritant is natural or manmade.

Pearl prices are also affected by the region from where the pearl was harvested. Saltwater pearls are more prized than freshwater pearls, as freshwater mollusks tend to produce inferior sizes and shapes compared to their saltwater cousins. Some areas are known for producing pearls of exceptional color or quality as well—Tahiti, for example, is known for producing lustrous black pearls; Australia for its golden south sea pearl. Japan is renowned for its skill in cultured pearl production—its “akoya” pearls are some of the most expensive cultured pearls on the market, available in a wide variety of colors due to the unique process by which they are made.

Birthplace alone has only a marginal effect on price, however. Mostly, pearl prices are determined by size and shape. Pearls cannot be cut like most other gemstones, which makes perfectly round pearls the most valuable on the market, followed by visually pleasing shapes like nearly round, oval, teardrop, and button pearls. Uneven or “baroque” pearls are the least valuable of all, as these are difficult to set and all-too-often an eyesore to behold.

Selecting a white gold pearl ring for an engagement or other purpose is an economic choice for some, an esthetic choice for others. As a valid diamond alternative, white gold pearl rings provide a means to opt out of the often unsettling reputation of the diamond industry while still equipping a lady’s finger with an artful gemstone.

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