White-colored metal is one of the most popular options for engagement rings and jewelry in general. Among the several options, platinum and white gold are typically the most sought-after for fine jewelry. Although these two metals might appear similar to the naked eye, each has unique advantages and properties that might tip the scales in their favor. So, let’s explore how platinum and white gold compare to help you decide which white metal should be a part of your next jewelry purchase.
- What is Platinum?
- What is White Gold?
- Platinum vs White Gold
- Pricing Chart of Platinum vs. White Gold
- Talk to a Jewelry Expert
What Is Platinum?
Platinum is a precious metal, highly valued for its rarity and special physical properties. This naturally white metal is predominantly mined in South Africa, with only a few hundred tons extracted annually. Thanks to how ductile platinum is, it can have many applications, including in the chemical, automobile, and electronic industries.
When it comes to jewelry, the metal is too soft to withstand daily wear and tear alone. As a result, it’s typically formulated as an alloy featuring cobalt or palladium. Still, these elements usually make up less than 10% of the alloy, meaning platinum is used in a nearly pure form for fine jewelry.
What Is White Gold?
White gold is an alloy of pure gold and durable white metals, such as silver, nickel, zinc, or palladium. Besides the signature white color, these materials strengthen the gold, making it more suitable for lasting jewelry applications.
Since the white color can only be achieved by mixing gold with other metals, there’s no form of pure white gold available.
The exact composition determines how many karats the white gold has. Also, the percentage of the metals used in the alloy affects the resulting color of the white gold.
For example, 9-karat white gold utilizes 35.7% gold and around 62% sterling silver. As for the most popular ring options, the metal breakdown is as follows:
- 14-karat white gold: 58.3% gold, 32% sterling silver, and 9% palladium
- 18-karat white gold: 75% gold and 25% palladium
Platinum vs. White Gold
Both platinum and white gold have a sleek, modern look that might appear identical to the untrained eye. However, despite their visual similarities, these metals differ in numerous aspects. Among their many differences, composition and price stand out the most.
Namely, platinum is a purer metal, typically consisting of 95-98% platinum. In contrast, white gold contains a higher percentage of added metals. Since platinum jewelry requires a substantial amount of this metal in manufacturing, its price can be up to 50% higher than that of white gold pieces. Furthermore, the scarcity of platinum further contributes to the higher price tag.
Having covered the fundamental difference between platinum and white gold, let’s explore these precious metals in more detail.
Pros and Cons of Platinum
Platinum is a trendy choice for engagement rings and wedding bands, perfect for couples who have set their sights on forever. Here’s what you should know about platinum before saying yes to this precious metal.
1. Platinum Is Hypoallergenic
In its pure form, platinum is a biocompatible material. Since platinum jewelry uses almost a pure form of this metal, it’s considered hypoallergenic. Simply put, platinum jewelry is safe to wear and doesn’t cause reactions in people with metal allergies.
Interestingly, the only other metal used for jewelry with a purer composition is 24-karat gold. But, jewelers rarely use this gold for everyday pieces of jewelry due to its susceptibility to damage. Therefore, platinum remains the most hypoallergenic metal used for making jewelry. This property makes it perfect for people with sensitive skin.
2. Platinum Is Rarer Than White Gold
Platinum jewelry is ideal for people who like to stand out and possess something unique. Namely, there’s a massive discrepancy between the amount of platinum and gold mined annually. To put it into perspective, around 180 metric tons of platinum were mined during each of the last 10 years. In contrast, the annual gold production surpassed 3,000 metric tons during the same period.
3. Platinum Is Viewed as a Symbol of Prestige
Thanks to platinum’s rarity, the metal has long been associated with exclusivity and wealth. This view reaches far beyond jewelry. For example, platinum credit cards have greater privileges than gold credit cards. The same goes for music awards, with platinum being the second highest certification for a single or an album, topped only by diamond.
4. Platinum Is More Robust Than White Gold
Platinum is a much denser and heavier material than white gold. These properties also make it the more durable option of the two. For this reason, platinum jewelry is the right choice for people who lead a more active lifestyle or have a manual job. Moreover, platinum’s density guarantees a secure fit of the central gemstone, regardless of the stone you choose.
5. Platinum Is Less Malleable Than White Gold
Over time, platinum will hold its form slightly better than any form of gold, including the white variety. This advantage over white gold comes from platinum being less malleable. In layman’s terms, platinum is more challenging to bend or shape out of place.
What’s more, platinum doesn’t lose metal when you scratch or dent its surface. It simply moves from one place to another, creating the satiny finish platinum is famous for called patina.
6. Platinum Is More Expensive Than White Gold
Although market prices constantly fluctuate over the years, platinum jewelry is typically significantly more expensive than white gold pieces. Interestingly, the prices per ounce for platinum and gold aren’t that far off. However, several factors dictate platinum jewelry’s higher price.
- Platinum is rarer than white gold, with only a few key mining locations worldwide.
- Platinum is denser than gold, resulting in a heavier piece of jewelry.
- More platinum is necessary to manufacture a piece of jewelry compared to white gold since platinum pieces are usually 95% pure.
- Crafting platinum jewelry requires specialized tools and greater expertise.
7. Platinum Requires Frequent Upkeep
Servicing platinum pieces requires the same specialized tools, technology, and skills as manufacturing them. For this reason, this might be a more costly process.
Moreover, you need to clean and polish platinum jewelry every few years as it can easily get scratched and dull over time. Although necessary to maintain the metal’s smooth appearance, these processes strip away some of the platinum from the surface.
Fortunately, due to platinum’s purity, you won’t need to re-plate platinum rings and fine jewelry. Also, some jewelry lovers don’t see platinum’s shine fading as a defect. This is due to the natural patina that can build up over time thanks to platinum’s softness. This charming occurrence allows the center diamond on a ring to shine even brighter.
Pros and Cons of White Gold
While a lower price might be the most important selling point to some, it’s not the only aspect that sets white gold apart from platinum.
1. White Gold Is Harder Than Platinum
Yellow gold is a relatively soft metal on its own. However, creating white gold involves adding harder metals like palladium, copper, or silver into the mix. These strong metals make white gold more durable and scratch-resistant than platinum. Owing to its purity, platinum jewelry is more prone to scratches. However, keep in mind that if you manage to scratch your white gold piece, the metal will be lost.
2. White Gold Is Lighter Than Platinum
Not only does platinum’s density contribute to a higher cost of jewelry, but it also significantly affects its weight. Therefore, if you’d like to rock a sizeable center ring, it doesn’t help if the band is equally as heavy. Similarly, white gold is better for people who prefer more understated and lightweight rings.
3. White Gold Requires Low Maintenance
Unlike platinum, white gold doesn’t have to be re-polished frequently. But, it does have to be re-plated in rhodium to retain its color and luster. Without this process, the yellow hues can start to show due to the high concentration of gold in the alloy. Fortunately, this process is inexpensive and can be done by almost any jeweler. In addition, you need to do it every four to five years, which is relatively infrequent.
If you want to ensure the rhodium plating lasts even longer, avoid exposing your jewelry to toiletries or household chemicals. Moreover, removing your jewelry during intensive activities can help slow the discoloration process.
4. White Gold Is Not Hypoallergenic
Apart from deteriorating the jewelry’s appearance, the plating wearing off can cause issues for people with sensitive skin. Namely, white gold alloys often contain nickel that can cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction when coming into contact with your skin.
In theory, choosing a different metal to mix with gold can make white gold jewelry more suitable for people with skin sensitivities. Still, due to its purity, platinum is generally a safer choice.
Chart of Platinum Versus White Gold
If you’d like to understand the major differences and similarities between platinum and white gold, have a look at our chart.
|Price||Raw materials are roughly the same price; jewelry pieces are up to 50% more expensive than white gold||Relatively affordable|
|Rarity||Extremely rare||Relatively common|
|Durability||Excellent under all circumstances||Average; durable enough for everyday wear|
|Malleability||Lower, more challenging to bend||Higher; easier to work with|
|Hardness||Relatively soft||Harder due to added metals|
|Scratch-Resistance||Low; no metal is lost||Medium; metal is lost|
|Composition||95-98% platinum; other metals include cobalt or palladium||Up to 75% gold; mixed with other metals like silver or nickel|
|Appearance||Naturally-occurring silver-grey hue||A slightly warmer hue plated in rhodium for a silver finish|
|Hypoallergenic Properties||Yes||No, unless not mixed with nickel|
|Jeweler Preference||Platinum for its malleability and versatility|
|Craftsmanship Ability||High skill level and specialized tools||No specialized tools and techniques are necessary|
|Servicing||Requires special tools, techniques, and skills||Easily serviceable|
|Upkeep||It needs to be re-polished frequently||It needs to be dipped and re-plated every four to five years to retain the color and luster|
Platinum vs. 14K White Gold vs. 18K White Gold
At its core, platinum is stronger and more durable than gold. However, white gold consists of additional metals that rival platinum’s natural properties. The higher the percentage of metals in the alloy, the more robust and durable the white gold jewelry.
Basically, this means that 14-karat white gold is stronger than its 18-karat counterpart since it contains a higher percentage of added metals. This means that the white gold’s composition doesn’t only affect its purity and quality. It also extends to durability.
Since 18-karat white gold is softer and more malleable, it’s more vulnerable to scratches, making it more similar to platinum. Also, this white gold variety contains more yellow gold. As a result, it can be less white and shiny than the 14-karat variety. However, both gold varieties are typically plated in rhodium, improving the white hue and virtually removing any visible difference.
If your primary concern is the price, you should choose a 14-karat gold piece. Alternatively, people who use their hands a lot during the day should pay more attention to durability. For this reason, service industry personnel, doctors, and craftspeople should probably go for platinum jewelry.
White Gold Engagement Rings vs. Platinum Engagement Rings
If you’re looking to reduce the overall weight of your engagement ring, white gold should be your go-to choice. This metal is much lighter than platinum, allowing you to sport a large central gemstone without the extra weight.
Moreover, white gold is also an excellent choice if you prefer a shinier look to your ring. Make sure to re-plate it every few years, and your ring will be as shiny as the day your significant other dropped down on one knee.
Finally, couples on a budget should probably consider white gold engagement rings first.
However, platinum engagement rings might be a better long-term investment if the price isn’t an issue. Platinum is among the most durable materials used in making jewelry. As a result, a platinum engagement ring should last you a lifetime without re-plating.
If you want your center gemstone to pop, you’ll probably welcome the patina that develops over time. People who prefer a shinier and smoother look can simply take their ring to be re-polished.
Best of all, platinum is also the most hypoallergenic of all metals and highly non-reactive. For this reason, platinum engagement rings are a no-brainer for people with sensitive skin.
Shop Platinum Engagement Rings
Here are some of the platinum engagement rings from our collection. Click here to view our entire collection of platinum rings.
Shop White Gold Engagement Rings
Here are some of the white gold engagement rings from our collection. Click here to view our entire collection of gold rings.
Pricing Chart of Platinum vs. White Gold
Platinum has historically fetched a significantly higher price than white gold. However, recent economic factors and material access have caused a shift, leveling out the playing field. Keep in mind that the price of raw materials isn’t the only factor impacting the final jewelry price.
|Platinum; Price per Ounce||Gold; Price per Ounce|
Talk to a Jewelry Expert
If you’re still unsure which metal to choose, reach out to our jewelry experts at Estate Diamond Jewelry. We’ll help you choose the perfect metal to complement your ring or any jewelry piece you have in mind.