Will White Metals Soon Unseat Yellow Gold in Fine Fashion Jewelry?

We’ve been hearing rumblings for more than a year now. Yellow gold, the undisputed queen of fine jewelry metals, may be headed for second-banana status among lovers of fine fashion jewelry.

White metals—platinum, silver, and white gold—are suddenly coming on strong. And while yellow gold is obviously one of jewelry’s oldest and most enduring materials, it does cycle in and out of style—its cycles are simply longer than, say, those guiding denim or handbag trends.

Several fashion eras have sidelined the precious metal.

Yellow gold was, if you remember, deeply uncool in the 1990s, in both high fashion and pop culture. Before Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) made the gold nameplate necklace a must-have accessory, fashionable girls hadn’t been investing in it for years.

I may be simplifying history a little here, but it was Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and their Kitson-shopping crews who helped usher the “daily gold” look into vogue in the early ‘aughts. Designers, and jewelry lovers, ran with it.

Since then, yellow gold has had incredible staying power—and played a pivotal role in bringing the jewelry industry back to life from the Great Recession.

But now that the industry is firmly back on its feet, and designer fine jewelry has arguably become as coveted as designer apparel, are consumers hungry for a change in tone (literally)?

Signs point to yes.

First off, some of the most creative fine fashion jewelry designers out there seem excited to play with white metals. They’re not only launching more new white metal pieces—they’re also casting their most popular styles in whites.

Jewelry designer Marla Aaron, for example, recently debuted a series of her famous locks in bright platinum. She told me she likes working with the white metal because “it makes the word precious tangible, even on the smallest scale. It’s like, Boom, this is jewelry.”

Designer Ariana Boussard-Reifel makes her tribal-inspired Despina cuff (a favorite of Beyoncé’s and Solange’s) in brass and sterling silver. Fashion editor and style star Gio Battaglia recently posted the style in silver with other stunning white metal pieces with the phrase “My summer friends.”


Speaking of Europeans, Iconery CEO Ivka Adams—JCK‘s Innovative Retailer for Nov./Dec. 2018—told me yesterday that she recently caught up with a stylish German friend who told her that yellow gold isn’t the thing at all in Europe anymore, and that many Europeans view the warm metal as “very American.” Huh.

Then there’s the relatively sudden adoption of white metals by hip-hop’s reigning queens—the very influencers who’ve launched so many important yellow gold jewelry trends over the past several decades, including huge hoop earrings and chunky chains.

Earlier this month, rapper and pop star Nicki Minaj appeared on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert in a black velvet gown accessorized with beautiful chunky white metal-and-gem bracelets. The icy look felt sublimely fresh.

At the Video Music Awards earlier this month, Jennifer Lopez—a yellow gold devotee from way back—rocked white gold and diamond Tiffany & Co. pieces with her gold column gown.

Instagram fashion influencers and models are also embracing white metals. Alexa Chung, Hailey Baldwin, Charlotte Groeneveld, and Gigi Hadid have all stepped out in silver, white gold, or platinum looks this summer.

In reality, pale metals probably have a long way to go to depose yellow gold (and a full overthrow may not even happen).

In more rural parts of the U.S., the yellow gold wave has only just begun—and jewelers in those regions will likely enjoy years of robust sales with it.

But considering how quickly trends rise and fall, thanks to the warp speed of social media, urban stores would be wise to up their orders of icy-white baubles now.

Top: Model and influencer Hailey Baldwin in white metal jewelry (via: @haileybaldwin)

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JCK Senior Editor

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