The white metals are any of several light-colored alloys used as a base for plated silverware, ornaments or novelties, as well as any of several lead-based or tin-based alloys used for things like bearings, jewellery, miniature figures, fusible plugs, some medals and metal type.
Some of the metals that make up a white metal alloy are antimony, tin, lead, cadmium, bismuth, and zinc. Not all of these metals are found in all white metal alloys but are mixed to achieve a desired goal or need. As an example, a base metal for jewelry needs to be cast able, polish able, have good flow characteristics, have the ability to cast fine detail without an excessive amount of porosity and cast at between 230 °C and 300 °C (450 °F and 575 °F).
In compliance with British law, the British fine art trade uses the term "white metal" in auction catalogues to describe foreign silver items which do not carry British Assay Office marks, but which are nonetheless understood to be silver and are priced accordingly.