Platinum vs White Gold – Which One Is Better?
When buying engagement rings, most people choose either gold or platinum. They hold their value, will look stunning and both are quite durable. In choosing platinum or white gold it means that you prefer a more contemporary modern design. But, before buying your engagement and wedding rings you should know the differences between them. You might be surprised to know that they differ in purity, composition, durability, and more importantly, price.
White Gold – Most Important Facts
White gold has a silvery white tone to it and is a very popular choice for engagement rings. It’s made up of a combination of gold alloys, along with white metals like palladium, nickel and silver. The quantity of alloy vs. gold content determines the karat or level of gold purity.
Pure gold is 24 karats, but the problem with pure gold is that it’s so soft it can be easily damaged. Therefore, it just doesn’t make sense for everyday wear. Also, there is no such thing as “pure white gold,” as gold is inherently yellow in color.
To increase the durability of gold and to change its color, it is mixed with alloys. For example, 18k white gold is 75% gold and 25% metal alloys, which helps it maintain its high value. But, 18k white gold jewelry is still soft and can easily dent or otherwise get damaged. Thus, 14k white gold may be a better choice.
Jewelry made with 14k white gold contains 58.3% gold with the other 41.7% being made up of pure alloys. Alloys add significantly more strength and durability, making 14k white gold far less prone to scratches than pure gold. Plus, jewelry made of 14k white gold is initially much less expensive.
Platinum – What You Need to Know
Platinum is naturally a white cool-tone in color. It does not need to be mixed with any other metals or alloys to achieve its look. Nearly all platinum jewelry is comprised of approximately 95% pure platinum with 5% consisting of other pure alloys. This is why platinum is more expensive.
Platinum’s distinctive soft white tone is gorgeous, but that’s not its only asset. The metal is also extremely strong, very durable and heavier than gold. In fact, it was not even available on the open market during past wars, as it was needed by the military. Platinum is an excellent choice for people seeking durable long-lasting engagement and/or wedding rings.
The truth is that of all the metals, platinum is the densest and most durable, which explains why it costs the most. Since platinum is denser than white gold by about 20%, it’s 2.5 to 5 times as expensive as white gold.
However, since it’s less pliable, platinum is not at all easy to work with. This means that labor costs are higher for molding platinum jewelry, increasing the price. While jewelry will inevitably get scratched, when platinum gets scratched no metal is lost, which is the case with white gold. Instead, the color and metal shift, creating what’s called a patina finish.
Pros & Cons of Platinum vs White Gold
Allergies – For the Sensitive Skin
One advantage that platinum has over white gold is that it is naturally white in color. This means that nickel, which is an allergen to some, does not have to be incorporated into the mixture. One of the various alloys needed to create white gold’s color is nickel. This is a problem for people whose sensitive skin has an adverse reaction to nickel. But, if you have white gold coated with rhodium plating, it can reduce or eliminate the allergic reaction. However, the plating will likely wear off over time. The metal will acquire a yellowish hue and a jeweler will need to replate it, which costs money.
Price – Expensive vs. Very Expensive
The primary advantage of choosing white gold rings over platinum rings is that white gold is far less expensive. Of all the precious metals, platinum is the costliest, due to its superior durability and incredible beauty.
Over time, white gold jewelry may end up costing you more because it requires so much more maintenance.
Maintenance & Durability
However, the disadvantage is that you may need to recoat your white gold item in rhodium due to wear and tear which can cause the diamond ring to turn yellow.
The rhodium plating on white gold rings could last up to three years depending on whether they are being worn every day or just occasionally. The argument that platinum is less expensive over the long run is valid since it won’t require coating or recoating.
Rhodium is about four times as expensive as platinum, but rhodium plating just requires “dipping,” which is not very expensive. You could spend $60 to $120 on having a ring recoated, depending on how complex the setting is.
Appearance – Is There a Visible Difference?
Platinum’s natural color is a radiant silvery white, which is absolutely stunning. And because it has the added advantage of being hypoallergenic it’s in high demand for jewelry. Eighteen-karat white gold looks similar, having the same silvery white color, which makes for gorgeous jewelry as well.
However, 18k white gold is not recommended for people allergic to nickel. Some people say that white gold has a slight yellowish tint, while others refute this. Realistically, nickel-based alloys tend to have a yellowish tone, while palladium based alloys tend to have a darkish grey tone compared to platinum.
Being truthful, it’s hard to see any difference between white gold and platinum. This is not at all like comparing yellow gold or rose gold to platinum. Eighteen-karat yellow gold is a vibrant rich golden color with a beautiful luster. Rose gold is an alloy mixture of copper and gold that creates a beautiful blush-pink hue.
Overall Conclusion Platinum vs White Gold
Both platinum and yellow gold have distinct benefits. Platinum is considered hypoallergenic, which means it requires no plating or replating. It has greater durability and its natural color is white, although not pure white. White gold engagement rings are the most popular, mainly due to their lower cost. However, white gold is very durable and slightly outshines platinum.
A white gold engagement ring may be your best option if you’re on a strict budget and would rather spend your money on a more elaborate setting or a higher quality diamond. But, if you prefer platinum, you may as well splurge.
Precious metals slowly increase in value over time. While the basic values of 24k gold and platinum are nearly identical, 14k white gold is not nearly as valuable as platinum because of it lacks purity.