Platinum vs White Gold – Which is Better? July 15, 2020 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog
Did you know that the oldest platinum decorative pieces date back to ancient Egypt? As for white gold, it’s actually an alloy of more recent vintage. Regardless, a white gold setting can be a perfect match for engagement jewelry, for example.
The differences in color, durability, and maintenance may affect your final choice. And then there’s the price – platinum can be as much as 50% more expensive than gold, at least on today’s market.
Furthermore, there are lots of other nuances that separate platinum and white gold. And you’ll also find within a few examples of rings of either metal that you’ll be able to get your hands on right away.
Platinum vs White Gold
Platinum and white gold may seem similar to the untrained eye, but once you start analyzing them, you will realize that they are, in fact, very different.
|Repolishing||Never needs Repolishing||Every few years|
About 80% of the world’s platinum comes from South Africa. Some of it has Russian origin, and a small percentage from North and South American mines. In contrast, there are far more gold-producing countries and the U.S. comes in fourth according to a 2018 survey.
It’s not surprising then that mines worldwide extract almost 14 times more gold than platinum. Of course, the relative rarity affects the price. In addition, there are numerous industrial applications for platinum, yet the supply isn’t abundant. If you’re wondering, only about 30% of the metal production ends up in jewelry.
So, it’s safe to assume that platinum may have the power to appreciate more than gold. However, there are external factors that influence trading prices. Probably not enough to affect the value of your diamond platinum ring.
Be that as it may, the interesting facts have to do with the physical properties of the two materials. Let’s have a closer look.
The two metals differ in hardness, density, color, and composition. Highlighted by a few samples of platinum and white gold pieces in the Estate Diamond Jewelry collection.
The composition of jewelry platinum is 95% to 98% pure platinum. It’d indicate that there are far lower amounts of metal additives like copper in platinum as compared to white gold. In general, this isn’t going to affect the color too much.
Both precious metals are white or rather, have a silver luster. However, there will be slight variations depending on the auxiliary metals in the alloy. For example, platinum jewelry that contains more palladium could appear dark grey, which doesn’t necessarily affect the value or desirability of the alloy.
Platinum is also a lot more ductile and not as malleable as gold. The metal’s density of 21.5g/cm3 and relative atomic mass of 195.1u contribute to this. Not to mention its heat resistance, for which ancient peoples believed it was an unmeltable metal.
It’s important to stress that platinum settings are much harder to design, repair, and keep in pristine condition. Special tools and expertise are required to work on platinum. And if the ring is to hold gemstones, extra maintenance would be required to preserve the stones.
The bottom line is that platinum is more durable, despite the fact that it’s more prone to scratches than white gold. And yes, you’ll need to service and polish it more often. But this is true of any jewelry or precious metal if you’re to keep it at the display best.
Three Examples of Platinum Rings
The best way to learn about jewelry is by studying examples of the finest jewelry. Here are 3 examples of platinum rings.
Crafted at the onset of the Art Deco era, this vintage piece is what people would call a show-stopper. It features an H color SI2 clarity 0.90-carat diamond of Old European cut.
Fine filigree adorns the shoulders and the under-gallery, and engravings on the shank. Knowing how tricky it is to manipulate platinum, this ring is an example of top-notch craftsmanship.
Learn more about this ring.
This is a vintage-style engagement ring with an Old European cut center stone dating from 1920. The diamond is of VS2 clarity, J color, and 0.90 carats. In addition, there are sixteen small gemstones in the halo that combine to weigh about 0.28 carats.
On the under-gallery and the shoulders can be found intricate filigree. What catches the eye in particular is the flower-like design of the setting, which accentuates the brilliance of the diamonds.
A mixed cushion cut diamond takes center stage on the Tuena ring. It sits on a platinum mounting with a square halo of smaller diamonds.
The diamond has a bezel setting and fine milgrain on all the bezels. This platinum piece features triple-wire shank and an open-work filigree in the under-gallery.
We’ve mentioned the cut is cushion, and the rest of the 4Cs go 1.05 carats, VS1 clarity, and I color.
Understanding White Gold
The standard 18-karat white gold has 75% gold and other metals that are usually copper and nickel. In comparison, 14-karat white gold is only 58.3% gold and considerably more affordable. And since we’re talking about white gold rather than yellow gold, the 14-karat and 18-karat varieties may not look as different to the eye.
Like its yellow gold counterpart, 14-karat white gold is stronger and more durable and scratch-resistant than purer white gold. However, the composition of the auxiliary metals may affect the quality of the gold. As a result, the long-term value of 14-karat rings might be less than you expect.
The silver (white) luster of the gold comes from the auxiliary metals, which are also there to strengthen and harden the alloy. The density of pure gold is 19.3g/cm3 with an atomic weight of 196.9u. As indicated, gold is quite malleable and ductile and has a much lower melting point than platinum.
This is why gold is easy to manipulate and shape, and why it’s commonly used in jewelry. However, 24k pure gold is not as common in the United States as jewelry pieces since the alloys are much stronger and durable.
By its nature, white gold is never pure or it wouldn’t look white. And the metal additives also allow white gold rings to better withstand everyday wear. But it’s still recommended to take it off and clean it periodically.
As indicated, the maintenance of white gold is not as challenging as platinum. Generally, every four or five years is enough to keep its luster and color.
Three Examples of White Gold Rings
The Berge Ring center stone is a 0.75-carat diamond of VS2 clarity and I color. Fine milgrain encircles the diamond and the bezel is square with tapered corners. The design extends to the shoulders where there are two pronounced sections on each side.
The piece is a vintage engagement ring that extends all the way back to the Retro era. Overall, the Berge is a classic ring with clean lines that can fit any style.
Aqua Halo Ring
If you’re on a tight budget the Aqua Halo Ring can be a great option for an engagement ring. For all other intentions and purposes, it serves to commemorate an important event with your loved one.
As for the main highlights, a 0.80-carat aquamarine is the center stone. The halo of full-cut smaller diamonds that capably brings out the color and brilliance of the aquamarine. The ring itself is 14-karat white gold with subtle open-work filigree in the under-gallery.
December Monroe Ring
Despite the relatively low price, the December Monroe Ring is fully capable of wowing its beholder. As you might guess, December birthstone is the center stone. It’s actually a London-blue saturation 1.70-carat topaz of stunning clarity.
Rounding off the design is a white-diamond halo and the combined weight is approximately 0.13 carats. Also of great interest is the intricate open-work under-gallery.
The December Monroe is an 18-karat white gold ring of a rather large stature. The center topaz alone measures 4.3mm x 6.0mm x 8.0mm.
Lastly, this is a low-profile ring where the diamond is about 5.4mm above your finger.
By now, you should already be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of the two precious metals.
To the untrained eye, the two metals may look exactly the same. However, the type and amount of auxiliary metals in white gold often result in slight variations in the color. With this in mind, jewelers may offset any lack of luster or silver color with a rhodium coating.
On its own, rhodium is also a precious metal of the same family as platinum. Aside from adding a white surface sheen, a coat of rhodium also makes the white gold stronger and more durable. As you may expect, the coating can wear off over time and that’s when you’ll have to take it in for another coat (dip).
Conversely, you won’t usually have to resurface a platinum ring. But as mentioned, this precious metal scratches more easily, which is why you might have to visit the jeweler more often, like every or every other year, depending on the use.
The silver lining is that most reputable jewelers would offer free annual or biannual maintenance for any platinum jewelry sold.
Platinum is quite a bit more expensive and may appreciate even more, despite the fact the spot price of gold is currently more expensive than platinum in the commodity market (as of June 2020). But this may not readily translate to jewelry and its long-term valuation.
That’s because you’d also have to consider the type and the 4Cs of the center stone, in addition to embellishments such as filigree, milgrain, halo, etc. Furthermore, the rings of a certain era and cut of diamond may fetch higher prices. Their popularity at any given period would have to be countered with the relative scarcity or oversupply.
Which Precious Metal Is Better?
In all frankness, it’d be wrong to assume that platinum is automatically better. These precious metals are different including their properties. But if properly preserved, both platinum and white gold rings can look as good as new after 100 or more years.
So, why is platinum jewelry up to 50% more expensive? The answer lies in supply and demand as well as the skill required to manipulate the material. What’s more, platinum is scarcer as pure metal ore.
Platinum is often a by-product of the mining of other metals, which makes the extraction more expensive.
When scratched, a platinum ring isn’t going to lose any of the metal. You actually get a patina finish that in a way changes the color of the ring. Interestingly, certain cultures prefer the platinum patina, but not so much in the United States.
On the other hand, if you’re to scratch white gold you’re scraping away some of the material and coating. This is partly because gold is roughly 20% less dense than platinum. But that’s not to say that you’re likely to chip off any white gold ring beyond repair.
Finally, white gold is the lighter option, which may work better if you’re shooting for a large setting or shank. At the end of the day, the choice is really up to you and yours.
Platinum is as hypoallergenic as they come. There’s little need to include auxiliary metals such as nickel that can trigger an allergic reaction in some people. This is the reason platinum is widely used in the medical field.
For one, a handful of anticancer medications utilize the metal for it low reactivity. Platinum has also found its way into dental crowns, pacemakers, and other implants.
But this doesn’t mean that white gold isn’t hypoallergenic, just not as hypoallergenic as platinum. If your white gold ring has rhodium coating, for example, the nickel wouldn’t come in contact with the skin.
The Precious Metal of Your Choice
What’s the final verdict – platinum or white gold? To begin with, if you’re in the market for vintage rings, you’re unlikely to find any white gold pieces that are genuinely “vintage.” But this doesn’t mean you need to spend a small fortune to buy a ring of either metal.
One way or another, the final choice is up to you. We’re hopeful that we’ve offered up a good selection of white gold and platinum rings for you to make a good start.