Walking in a White-Gold Wonderland

This cool metal pairs perfectly with diamonds for a sleek, modern look, whether it’s for wedding jewelry or a holiday present.

September 20, 2023  |  Francesca Fearon

Bridal: Fresh and elegant

Yellow gold and platinum have dominated the bridal market in recent years, but designers are reporting a resurgence of white gold, reflecting fashion’s current minimalist mood.

Los Angeles-based designer Suzanne Kalan has witnessed a massive revival of white gold in the past year. “It’s the one colorway I’m asked for time and time again from both our key buyers and direct customers,” she says. While the combination of 18-karat white gold and colorless diamonds “has always been up there in popularity with 18-karat yellow gold and rainbow sapphires, this year…white on white has taken center stage.”

Fourth-generation diamantaire Harakh Mehta believes the renewed interest lies in the more modern image the metal projects. “The fact that white gold is considered a younger, trendier color makes it topical and popular with today’s bridal couples,” says the founder of jewelry brand Harakh, who uses a special 18-karat alloy with high palladium content to showcase the colorless nature of his diamonds.

There’s also been a gravitation toward innovation and personalized details, he observes: little surprises like a diamond tucked underneath the ring, or accent diamonds that aren’t visible at first glance. “We believe bridal rings should be distinctive pieces of art that are uniquely yours.”

With that mood of modernity comes an interest in unusual shapes and settings, such as Los Angeles-based jeweler Katkim’s off-center pear-shaped diamonds on swooping bands of pavé, and New York brand Jade Trau’s plain or pavé bands with off-set diamond solitaires. Harakh’s Cascade collection clusters pear, marquise and round diamonds with rose cuts to make the design truly pop. Marei New York’s arabesque-inspired marquise diamonds, meanwhile, are elegantly clasped in serpentine twists of white gold.

“White gold is a classic choice for bridal jewelry, as it allows the diamond or gemstone to stand out beautifully,” says founder Angie Marei, whose Pythia, Ayla and Dorian engagement rings are currently bestsellers. “White gold’s natural rarity and resistance to tarnish [also] make it highly prized.”

The serpentine effect is a feature of her men’s wedding bands as well. Among those catering to the groom are Kay Jewelers, with its range of diamond bands, and David Yurman, which offers a wide choice of beveled, chevron, diamond-set and faceted band rings.

The fact that [it’s] considered a younger, trendier color makes it topical and popular with today’s couples.

Although engagement rings are traditionally diamond designs, gems are also making an appearance. Marei finds that white gold with cornflower-blue sapphires is a popular combo; she sets the stone as a “floating teardrop” on a pavé ring. There are sapphire and diamond wedding bands for men at Kay, and Suzanne Kalan’s favorite stone to use, aside from white diamond, is emerald.

Kalan, whose signature is the baguette cut in multi-angled settings, admits that designing bridal pieces is one of her favorite things to do. “Both our tennis earrings and necklaces are having a moment, especially in the white gold,” she says. “The elegance of the drop earrings [which range from subtly short to dramatic shoulder dusters] makes them suitable for any face shape.”

Danish designer Sophie Bille Brahe is better known for her pearls, but she launched a bridal line early last year in yellow gold and diamonds. That said, she’s drawn to white gold for its clean simplicity; she has created a series of diamond tennis necklaces and bracelets that are perfect for brides, featuring rosette-shaped clusters that taper in size or form a centerpiece for the jewel.

Gifting: Understated chic

The red carpet this year has been awash with diamonds in white gold, which the fashion world sees as a classy complement to the cool, futuristic vibe of the latest collections. Many of the influential performers popular with Gen Z are wearing the icy metal, including Beyoncé, Rihanna and Taylor Swift.

Brands like Messika specialize in white gold and diamond styles that look as chic on celebs as they do in accessibly priced collections like the Paris-based jeweler’s Move line.

Bigger brands are similarly featuring white gold in their fine jewelry, comfortably priced for gifting or for the woman who just wants to treat herself. Tiffany & Co.’s Tiffany T and Lock collections fit this profile, as do Dior’s Bois de Rose bangles, Piaget’s Possession bracelet, and the latest edition of David Yurman’s industrial-looking cable bracelet, which launches in September. Anita Ko combines white gold and diamonds in safety pins that make fun gifts, and Yvonne Leon has funky white gold signet rings with diamond dots.

There is something straightforward and serene about white gold that [fits] nicely with the [‘quiet luxury’] vibe.

“We have always had strong demand for white gold and diamond pieces, but recently we’ve seen an increased interest in solid white gold,” says New York-based fine jeweler Melissa Kaye, who has recreated several of her bestsellers in the metal this year. Over the past few years, women have been exploring more relaxed ways to wear fine jewelry, and “solid white gold pieces can have a more understated look that pairs well with casual dressing,” she observes. “Depending on the application, white gold can have an industrial feel that works well with modern designs like ours.” 

Also seeing a trend toward what some are calling “quiet luxury” is Eva Zuckerman, cofounder and designer of Eva Fehren. “There is something straightforward and serene about white gold that I think would fit nicely with the vibe,” she says.

Her own designs channel the modern appeal of monochrome by setting fancy-cut diamonds in her signature blackened white gold. “The grit that is New York City’s backbone is something I wanted reflected in the jewelry, and blackening it is the perfect way to incorporate that,” she says. The contrasting effect creates an edgy look that really makes the diamonds pop and “resonates closely with my personal aesthetic: graphic, delicate and a little bit tough.” The X necklace and Continuum VII ear climber are both pieces she’d be happy to receive as a gift or purchase for herself.

For retailer Zadok in Houston, Texas, white gold is always popular for classics like diamond tennis necklaces and hoop earrings, and the jeweler’s customers like to mix it with yellow for neck messes and wrist stacks. Co-owner Gilad Zadok wonders whether factors such as seasonality and regionality are contributing to white gold’s appeal.

“In the winter, especially in the north, women may prefer white gold, since it is more understated,” he suggests. “In southern states, particularly in summer, women tend to wear yellow gold, as it works especially well with a tan and is a more flashy look.”

Kaye is more cautious about calling it a seasonal effect, but given that white gold with diamonds tends to be a more formal look, “we will often see an increased appetite around the holidays,” she says.

Main image: Eva Fehren white gold jewelry with diamonds. (Eva Fehren)

This article is from the September-October 2023 issue of Rapaport Magazine. View other articles here.

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Walking in a White-Gold Wonderland

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