History- Belais and White Gold

This classic 18k white gold band was made by Belais. The company was founded by David Belais in 1863 and would remain in business until 1933. They created many beautiful pieces, but they are best remembered as the creators of white gold.

They didn't actually invent white gold, but they were the first US company to patent their formula (in 1917) and it was the gold standard (pun intended) for the industry. In fact, during the 1920s, white gold was often referred to as “Belais metal" in the advertisements of many different jewelers.

Why did they make white gold, and why is it such a big deal? Because it looked like platinum. When the oxy/acetylene array was invented in 1895, it made it possible to work platinum. Hard, white and incredibly strong, it became pivotal to the designs of the new era. Everyone wanted it. Unfortunately, so did the military.

As WW1 progressed, demand for platinum for military efforts increased. The costly metal was becoming harder and harder for jewelers to acquire, and eventually, in 1918, the government enforced a ban on all non-military use of platinum.

David Belais must have seen the writing on the wall, because his US patent #1,584,352 reads “white gold that will have the appearance of platinum and that may be used as a substitute for it, especially in the jewelry trade,” and which “will have more nearly the appearance of platinum, and that will be more malleable and ductile than any white gold previously used for this general purpose” Which is certainly does. Even now, almost 100 years later, every piece I have come in contact with polishes back up to that brilliant platinum white.

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