Deciding between white gold and platinum can seem impossible. You might have heard that platinum is the "best" metal, but is it enough to justify a heftier price tag?
We want you to decide for yourself! There are a lot of different factors that set these two white metals apart from one another. On the surface they may look the same, but they couldn't be more different.
We've identified the five biggest differences between white gold and platinum rings that you'll want to know before you make any sort of jewelry decision:
1) Long Term Care
A common misconception is that white gold and platinum metals will essentially perform the same over time because they look the same at the time of purchase. This couldn't be further from the truth.
White gold is a beautiful white metal, and we often recommend it, but any smart consumer should know some of the drawbacks of this metal as it ages. A white gold piece is not pure gold. When white gold is made, yellow gold is mixed together with white metals such as silver, palladium, or nickel. Once the metals are mixed together, a white gold piece will then be "rhodium plated" to give it a whiter, shinier finish. This is what makes a white gold piece look the same as a platinum piece when they are both in new condition.
It's very important to understand, however, that over time the rhodium plating finish will wear down and the jewelry will begin to show its natural yellow color. When this happens, you'll have to get it rhodium plated again by a jeweler. Depending on how active you are and how often you wear the piece of jewelry, this could start to happen fairly quickly. There is a long term commitment to maintenance when you agree to purchase white gold.
Platinum, on the other hand, will age in a different way. To be considered platinum, a piece must contain 95% or more of the metal, making it one of the purest precious metals you can buy. Over time, platinum will fade in a different way. It won't turn yellow, like yellow gold; but, it will begin to lose its shiny finish and build a natural patina (more on this in a bit). Some people actually prefer this look because it will accentuate the brilliance of a diamond and make it appear more sparkly. Similar to white gold, a platinum piece can be brought back to life by a jeweler who can restore its original condition simply by polishing it.
2) Durability & Lifespan
It's no secret that platinum has long been described as the hardest and most durable metal for jewelry. Let's dive into this idea a little more. There is actually a difference in the way that platinum and gold handle surface scratches. When white gold is scratched, the gold is scratched away and is lost.
When platinum is scratched, the platinum gets moved from one place on the ring to another, and it develops something called a patina finish. This type of finish will make your jewelry look like an antique. Platinum's metal can be moved back in place with polishing because it is not actually losing metal like white gold.
Platinum's durability is one of its strongest assets as a precious metal. It will help hold precious stones in place securely for a lifetime. In fact, platinum prongs are often used in rings made of less durable metals, like white gold.
Because platinum is able to handle scratches and wear and tear more, a platinum piece can last for generations. Platinum jewelry is easy to get looking like new again and can easily be resized or reconditioned if it is passed down.
You'll mostly find white gold jewelry offered in 14K (58.3% pure gold) or 18K versions (75% pure gold). Gold will be mixed with other metals to form an alloy that is stronger than pure gold (aka 24 karat gold). A 24K diamond ring is rarely sold because it would be very soft. That's why it is mixed with other metals to give it additional hardness. So, the 18K white gold option would be less durable because it is closer to 24K.
Platinum is a very strong and heavy metal. The wearer of a platinum piece will have to decide if they can handle a heavier metal like platinum over a lighter metal like white gold. The best way to test this out is by trying it on to see if its too heavy for you or if you don't mind it. Platinum is the densest precious metal that you can buy, so all of these factors will have to be considered.
4) Hypoallergenic Potential
When comparing metals, you'll also want to think about the possibility that the metal could irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction. Hypoallergenic metals will help to reduce the possibility that you will have an allergic reaction by minimizing potentially irritating substances.
Platinum is actually the only true hypoallergenic precious jewelry metal that you can buy, because it is 95% pure. Because white gold is made from a mix of metals, some of these metals could easily irritate someone's skin if they have a particular sensitivity. If you are aware of any of these allergies or suspect you may have any, then stick to platinum.
One of the biggest selling points of white gold over platinum is cost. Platinum will almost always be more expensive than white gold because it is 30 times more rare and mined much less than gold. To be more specific, 2,700 tons of gold are mined per year compared to 80 tons of platinum.
Also, platinum is denser than gold. The exact same ring would weigh more if its made of platinum over white gold. This same ring in platinum would also be much more expensive in platinum because precious metals are priced by weight.
Some of these factors play a big role in the price differentiation between platinum and white gold. Depending on what you are looking for in a ring, you'll have to weigh the cost and overall benefits of each metal to truly understand which is the better option for you.