Platinum vs White Gold – Which is Better? January 12, 2017 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog

Are you curious to know the difference in looks, cost and quality between platinum and white gold? Despite their general visual similarities, there is much that separates them. Discover everything you need to know about platinum vs white gold in this article!

Physical Properties

Platinum White Gold Rhodium Plated Gold
Price $$$ $$ $
Durability Excellent Average Average
Strength Strong Very Strong Very Strong
Repolishing Never needs repolishing Every few years Every 6 months

Understanding Platinum Properties

Nugget of PlatinumPlatinum is a significantly denser material than gold, and so identically sized rings, for example, will cost more in platinum than in white gold due to the increased weight of the metal used.

White Gold Properties

Technically, there is actually no such metal as white gold. White gold is an alloy, comprised of yellow gold mixed together with (usually) nickel.

The gold used to create white gold is usually 18K gold, instead of pure (24K carat) gold. This, again is an alloy in itself. 18K gold containing only 75% gold, often to increase the hardness and durability required.

Rhodium Plated Gold

In more modern and commercial pieces, the yellow gold is commonly plated with rhodium to give the “white” appearance. Typically, 18k yellow gold is underneath the rhodium plating, but technically any metal can be underneath.

The Cost: Platinum or White Gold

Platinum and Gold Trading Prices

Platinum vs. Gold Trading Prices 2007 – 2017

Platinum and gold trade at similar costs per ounce, and yet the price for their jewelry varies drastically. There are several reasons for this:

  • Platinum is of a higher density and therefore heavier than a visibly identical white gold piece
  • Gold will have other (cheaper) metals added to it, reducing the cost
  • Due to the labor involved in platinum, the craftsmen that tend to work with platinum are usually far superior

As of Dec 2017, Platinum is $890.20 per ounce. Click here for the current rate.
As of Dec 2017, 24kt Gold is $1,249 per ounce (Gold Engagement Rings are usually only 14-18kt). Click here for the current rate.

Another reason that platinum can be significantly more expensive is due to availability. Each year, only 160 tonnes of platinum are mined (compared to the 1,500 tonnes of gold). This can cause the price to fluctuate greatly in periods of high demand. The price of the jewelry will depend on the cost that the craftsman paid for the raw materials.

Platinum Rings vs. White Gold Rings

Platinum Engagement Ring on Artistic Background

Platinum Engagement Ring, featuring an emerald-cut diamond.

We should probably mention that there is a difference between “hardness” and “malleability”. Although gold is actually harder than platinum (due to other materials in gold), platinum is more resistant to shaping.

If you choose a white gold engagement ring, the choice may come down to what already exists. Your eye and heart trumps all the technical differences between the two. If you find a ring that you love, it won’t matter what it is made from.

In contrast, the higher level of malleability in white gold means that it is often unsuitable for setting stones. A flexible ring will cause the stones to work loose quite quickly. This is why during the Edwardian Era they often chose to mix a gold band with a platinum mount.

“For 100 years, platinum has been the supporting act to most of the finest crafted jewelry,” says Benjamin Khordipour.

Platinum also develops a beautiful patina over time, motivating vintage rings enthusiasts to prefer platinum over gold.

Suitability of Platinum and Gold

In addition to any possible cost considerations, there are other things you’ll need to know before deciding upon a metal. Most white gold rings manufactured today are yellow gold with a rhodium plating applied. This method produces a color almost indistinguishable from 95% pure platinum at a lower cost, but it has its drawbacks.

Platinum Engagement Ring

Rhodium plating

Rhodium plating isn’t permanent and, over time, the plating will wear away and allow the yellow gold underneath to show. The plating can actually be re-applied pretty easily, to bring the ring back to its original glory.

Allergic Reactions

There is another common reason for moving away from alloys like white gold. Alloys containing nickel can cause reactions – sometimes severe – in those with an intolerance to the metal.

Vintage gold rings will probably contain nickel, and you need to cautious when purchasing them.

As an alternative to nickel, palladium is increasingly being used in white gold alloys. Palladium avoids any potential allergic reactions whilst also avoiding the need to re-plate the ring from time to time. The drawback of Palladium is that it’s much more expensive than nickel, and is therefore not used as often.

Advantages of Platinum

Platinum, on the other hand, is considered hypoallergenic, and is perfectly safe for almost anyone to wear comfortably. It develops a patina over time, and the original shine of the platinum dulls to a more matt finish. Patina is almost always a desirable quality. It increases the contrast between band and diamond, and appears to improve the clarity of the center stone.

To Summarize

As we said in the beginning, there’s probably no right answer to the question.

If we had to pick an objective option, without any emotional considerations, we would say that platinum is better.

Jewelry shopping however, is anything but objective.

You will need to decide which metal is best for you. It will likely, ultimately come down to cost, lifestyle, health or a combination of all 3. Either way, both metals are beautiful to look at and to wear. Comparing based on quality is never a good idea if you have a leaning towards one.

Choose your ring based on you and your needs, and enjoy it for a lifetime.