It does sound like you are having a reaction to the nickel that can be used to make white gold. All white gold is not the same. There are many different metals that can be alloyed with gold to make it white, and the higher the gold content, the more difficult this can be. As far as a metal allergy, both 10kt and 14kt white gold can contain nickel. Different suppliers use different white gold alloys, and nickel is a less expensive metal that will make the gold very white. There are 14kt white gold alloys that don’t contain nickel; however these either can be more expensive (due to the fact that the metal used to ‘whiten’ the gold is more expensive), or are possibly not as ‘white’. White gold is often plated with rhodium to give it a very white finish.
This is actually becoming an issue within the jewelry community, as people like you need to know if their jewelry contains nickel. Some countries have actually severely limited the use of nickel in jewelry because of this. The ring company should be able to find out which of the alloys they are using contain nickel. If they are telling you that their 10k product has less nickel, then maybe that is something you should try.
Here are some journal articles that I have found on the subject:
1. Search for the perfect alloy, by Carol Besler, Canadian Jeweller, [2002Feb-2002Mar]; v. 123, n. 1; p. 34-36. Abstract: White gold can turn a dull, yellowish color. The problem is that the rhodium plating has worn off. White gold is made by mixing gold with nickel or palladium, and smaller parts of silver and copper and sometimes zinc. Nickel mixed with gold creates the purest white color in gold, but it makes the gold brittle and hard to work with, and increases the chance of an allergic reaction. Reducing the nickel makes the gold more workable, but less white. Using palladium makes an extremely white gold, but is very expensive. Last year it was over $1,000 an ounce. To reduce the cost of the gold, manufacturers reduce the amount of palladium, and end up with a less-than-white product. To make the piece white, it must be rhodium plated. If done right, the plating will last decades, however much of the plating is applied to thinly.
2. Look on the white side: an overview of nickel-free white golds, by Stewart Grice, American Jewelry Manufacturer (AJM), [2002Mar]; v. 47, n. 3; p. 43-47, 49-50, 53-54. Abstract: The predominant type of white gold alloy used in the U.S. today is nickel white. While nickel white golds have good color, they can be hard to work with and many people are allergic to the nickel. Nickel-free white golds were developed in the 1920s using palladium. This is still a good alloy, but palladium costs much more than nickel. Most 10kt nickel-free alloys require rhodium plating as a final finishing operation to get the optimum white color. (AJM articles can be purchased through their website at http://www.ajm-magazine.com/article_index.php)
3. Task force to address white gold standards, by Barbara Green, National Jeweler (www.nationaljeweler.com
), [2003Apr]; v. 97, n. 8; p. 1, 52. Abstract: The Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America (MJSA) and the World Gold Council (WGC) are assembling a white gold task force that will address a range of issues, including voluntary regulations, alternative alloys, rhodium plating and color grading. The group will also look at regulating nickel use in white gold.
4. Task force moves toward standards for white gold, by Glenn Law, National Jeweler (www.nationaljeweler.com
), ; v. 98, n. 13; p. 8. Abstract: The White Gold Task Force hopes to develop a set of industry standards and recommendations to help define white gold.
5. Task force defines white gold, by Peggy Jo Donahue, Professional Jeweler, [2004Apr]; v. 7, n. 4; p. 12. Abstract: The White Gold Task Force formed last year by MJSA and WGC has proposed three grades to define white gold. Premium is for alloys that do not need rhodium plating to make them white; standard for alloys where plating may be needed, but is optional; and off-white for alloys where plating is definitely needed. (http://www.professionaljeweler.com/a...0304story.html
6. Right white, by Randi Molfsky, Jewelers' Circular-Keystone, [2004May]; v. 175, n. 5; p. 114, 116, 118. Abstract: The W.R. Cobb company of Rhode Island have created a 10k, 14k, and 18k white gold nickel-based alloy that has improved hardness, luster, brittleness and durability. The company has had the nickel release rate of this alloy tested by an independent laboratory to make sure it passed the strict European standards. The company also has a 14k and 18k palladium-based white gold, but it is slightly darker in color and it costs more. The White Gold Task Force has proposed a three tier system, Off-White, Standard White, and Premium White.
7. Jewelry manufacturer introduces patented white gold, www.jckgroup.com
, [2004May]; Abstract: W.R. Cobb and Co., from Providence R.I., has developed a patented white gold called Precise White Gold, which it says it never needs to be rhodium plated, it retains its shine and luster, and it lowers manufacturing cost because there is no plating cost. (http://www.jckgroup.com/article/CA41...gold%22+nickel
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8. WR Cobb introduces new rhodium-free white gold alloy, Jewellery News Asia, [2004Jul]; n. 239; p. 80. Abstract: WR Cobb has developed a white gold, marketed as Precise White Gold, which will not require rhodium plating. The alloy has been evaluated and meets the European Union Nickel Release Test, and is not brittle like some other white gold alloys,
9. MJSA/ World Gold Council announce creation of White Gold Whiteness Index, Press Release, [2005Mar]; Abstract: MJSA and WGC has developed the White Gold Whiteness Index, which is based on the definition and color grading system developed by the industry's White Gold Task Force. The index "provides manufacturers and retailers with a template showing the various color grades, ensuring greater communication between manufacturers and retailers." The grades are Grade 1: Good white - measuring less than 19 on the Yellowness Index, does not require rhodium plating; Grade 2: Reasonable white - measures between 19 and 24.5 on the yellowness index, rhodium plating is optional; Grade 3: Poor White - measures between 24.5 and 32 on the Yellowness Index and does require rhodium plating. Anything measuring higher than 32 is not considered white gold.
Additional link to article on white gold: http://www.professionaljeweler.com/archive...p03/0903mm.html
I hope this information will help you. Please let me know if you have any further questions, as this can be a fairly complicated subject