The 5 Biggest Differences Between White Gold & Platinum Rings

Author Lynelle Schmidt
Date Jan 13, 2021

We often hear buyers wonder, “Is white gold platinum?” because they look so similar and seem to have similar qualities. In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are major differences in each metal, but because they appear similar at first glance, deciding between white gold vs. platinum can seem impossible. You might have heard that platinum is the "best" metal, but is it enough to justify a heftier price tag? Are there differences in long-term maintenance and care? Is one ultimately better than the other?

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 factors that contribute to white gold and platinum differences. First, we’ll start off with an overview of the composition of each metal, then go into all the details. You'll want to know these before you make any sort of jewelry decision.

1) Composition of white gold vs. platinum

The properties of each metal differ due to the attributes of each material, and the purity used.

What is white gold made of?

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. First, it’s important to understand how white gold is made. A white gold piece is not pure gold. Instead, it’s mixed together with white metals such as silver, palladium, or nickel.

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.

Can white gold turn yellow? Yes, and this is a factor that might affect your purchase. Once the metals are combined, a white gold piece will then be "rhodium plated" to give it a whiter, shinier finish that needs to be maintained over time. This is what makes a white gold piece look the same as a platinum piece when they are both in new condition.

What is platinum made of?

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.

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 it’s 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.

2) Long Term Care & Maintenance: Is White Gold or Platinum Better?

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.

As mentioned earlier, white gold plating consisting of a rhodium finish is applied to gold jewelry to preserve the whiter finish. It's very important to understand 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.

rhodium plating before and after

3) Durability & Lifespan: Is White Gold Better Than Platinum?

It's no secret that platinum has long been described as the hardest and most durable metal for jewelry. These properties of platinum make it a highly desirable material. Let's dive into this idea a little more. There is actually a difference in the way that platinum and gold handle surface scratches.

platinum-ring-with-scratches-1-1When 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.

What about the alternative - does white gold scratch? Yes, however, when this occurs the gold is scratched away and is lost, rather than moved around. Compared to platinum, gold is softer and less durable, leading to slight loss of the precious metal over time.

Platinum's weight and 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.

4) Is White Gold Hypoallergenic?

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. White gold often contains considerable amounts of nickel or other metal alloys, so although it makes beautiful jewelry, it isn’t usually hypoallergenic unless specifically mentioned in the composition.

5) White Gold Vs. Platinum Cost

One of the biggest selling points of white gold over platinum is cost. The average platinum price per ounce as of January 2023 happens to be $1050 versus white gold at $1928 due to the volatility of the market since the pandemic. However, historically, gold has always cost less than platinum, 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.

Another factor contributing to the white gold vs. platinum price is the metal’s composition. Platinum is denser, therefore, the exact same ring would weigh more if it's made of platinum rather white gold. This same ring in platinum would also be much more expensive in platinum because precious metals are priced by weight in karats.

Is white gold expensive compared to yellow or rose golds? For the most part, if there is the same amount of pure gold in either piece, the metals will be priced equally. This means that 14K white gold should be comparable in cost to 14k yellow gold, though in some cases the jeweler may charge an additional fee to cover the cost of the rhodium plating white gold requires.

So Which Is Better: White Gold Or Platinum?

Rather than saying one is superior to the other, we hope this guide gave you a helpful overview on the clear differences in the composition, care, price, and durability of both metals. Some of these factors play a big role in the differentiations 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.

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