Platinum and white gold are two of the most popular choices when it comes to engagement rings and wedding bands. However, choosing between the two often isn’t an easy task.
Both platinum and white gold are highly distinguishable because of their almost white shine and exquisite elegance. This means they are often indiscernible to the untrained eye, but there are indeed differences and unique properties which separate the two.
We shall discover what they actually are, what makes them so suitable for jewelry, and finally, what you should look for when in search of the perfect trinket.
To find out which is better, platinum or white gold, we shall look at their advantages and disadvantages and list their pros and cons to find their ideal use.
If you are here to solve the dilemma on which material to choose, join us on the ride while we examine each and all properties to answer the burning question platinum vs. white gold: which one is better?
First, let us clarify exactly what platinum and white gold are. Let’s start with platinum!
Unlike white gold, platinum is a metal in its own right. It is dense, malleable, and much rarer than gold, with only a few hundred tons being produced annually as opposed to thousands of tons for gold.
Platinum’s famous silverish-white color gave the metal its name from the Spanish language and can be roughly translated to “small silver”. In fact, this neutral color and platinum’s mild shine give it the status of one of the most elegant materials used in jewelry making.
In jewelry, platinum takes up anywhere from 95 to 98%, with the remaining few percent usually consisting of palladium and copper. The high percentage and the density of platinum mean that a lot more platinum is used than gold to craft an identical ring.
Platinum jewelry is hypoallergenic because of the high precious metal percentage and will not cause an allergic reaction on the skin.
We will see how the density of platinum plays an important role in determining the price of a single piece of jewelry in the price section of this article.
White gold isn’t actually a type of gold, but an alloy of gold and another metal needed to get that recognizable white glow. The metals which are most often used are silver, nickel, and palladium.
Please bear in mind that white gold is not hypoallergenic, mainly because nickel is responsible for the skin rash that can appear when a ring is worn over long periods.
In fact, even the most common, yellow gold, also needs a plethora of other metals to make it malleable and hard enough to be made into jewelry, such as copper or zinc.
18 Karats means that gold makes up for 75% of the total mass, whereas 14 Karats indicate that there is 58.3% of gold.
Originally made as a less expensive substitute for platinum, white gold gets its platinum-like color from bleaching agents such as palladium and zinc. However, its lustrous glow is often wrongly attributed to white gold itself and actually comes from the rhodium plating.
Platinum Vs. White Gold: Price
The first thing you will probably notice when choosing between white gold and platinum is the obvious price difference. Platinum jewelry is roughly 40-50% more expensive than white gold.
Contrary to popular belief, a platinum ring isn’t more expensive because platinum is more difficult to mine or because platinum is simply more expensive than gold.
When comparing the prices for 1g of gold and 1g of platinum, it is easy to see that gold is actually the pricier one and has continuously been so since 2015.
The price difference lies in the density of platinum, as it is 60% heavier than gold. This translates to more platinum being used and, therefore, a heftier price tag.
However, it isn’t just the initial purchase price that we have to take a look at. Because of the composition and rhodium plating of white gold, there is a need for more frequent maintenance and re-plating that increases its long-term cost.
Platinum Vs. White Gold: Durability
White gold and platinum are both considered durable materials but they differ greatly in the way they respond to impacts, pressure, and other everyday sources of damage.
It is again the density of platinum that makes it extremely resistant to prolonged wearing. This is the reason why platinum wedding bands do not lose their thickness even after decades of wearing.
What platinum does, unfortunately, lose over time are the engravings and sharp edges. This happens because platinum does not wear away but concentrates around the surface of a ring.
The resulting mass, along with the dents and bruises it leaves behind, is called a patina which is a unique layer often found on top of old platinum rings.
Platinum’s famed durability and longevity are used to keep gems and stones in place on a ring. It is quite common to have prongs on a white gold ring made out of platinum to help secure it in place.
In contrast to platinum, white gold is strong but not as dense, which means it retains fine design elements much better. Things like engravings, square edges, and similar features are more suitable for white gold and will remain intact for much longer.
On the other hand, white gold is highly susceptible to wear damage, and an old white gold ring will appear thinner than it originally was.
You should consider these characteristics in accordance with the line of work you’re in, your lifestyle, and how often you plan on wearing the piece of jewelry in question.
Platinum Vs. White Gold: Maintenance
Platinum and white gold will indeed look almost the same on the day of the purchase, but as time goes by they will start to attain different properties. Therefore, both white gold and platinum require maintenance but not because of the same reasons.
As we have mentioned earlier, white gold does not equal pure gold; after a while, the rhodium plating will start to wear off. When this happens, the yellowish color of gold will start to appear, and white gold will lose its trademark color.
Depending on what you do for a living, this process can even happen fairly quickly, as soon as 12 months after the purchase.
In order to get the desired color of white gold again, you will have to visit a jeweler who will re-plate the white gold with rhodium. This means that in case of daily wearing you are subscribing to a long-term commitment of having the white gold replated.
Platinum, on the other hand, will retain its distinctive silver-like color but fade differently. It won’t turn yellow like white gold but will lose its precious shine along with the formation of a natural patina.
Similarly to white gold, a jeweler can turn back time in a way by polishing the ring since platinum does not lose any of the material throughout the years.
Platinum Vs. White Gold: Pros and Cons
It is time to round all that we’ve learned about white gold and platinum and see their benefits and drawbacks in a head-to-head comparison.
What makes each of them so sought after and why are they the number one choice in recent years for many people?
Furthermore, what sets them apart, and which downsides should you keep in mind when choosing your ultimate piece of jewelry?
- Unlike white gold, platinum is naturally white-silver and does need rhodium plating to have its distinguishable color. It retains its original color over the years and will not turn yellowish like white gold.
- Platinum is one of the most durable metals and will not wear away after longer periods. Platinum jewelry always retains its original weight even though the material does get shifted around.
- The density and durability of platinum makes it excellent for gems and diamonds to be set inside it. Platinum is ideal for prongs and platinum prongs can even be combined with white gold ring body to achieve maximum gemstone safety for a lower price.
- Platinum is hypoallergenic on its own, and platinum jewelry does not contain nickel which is the main cause of allergic skin reactions. This makes platinum highly suitable for watches and various pieces of jewelry.
- As the material of the dense and durable platinum gets moved from one part of the jewelry to another, it forms a patina losing its shine over long periods.
- Because of platinum’s density, platinum jewelry is much heavier than its white gold counterpart, making it very uncomfortable for larger pieces of jewelry.
- Since more material is used in the making of platinum jewelry, it is more expensive than 18K white gold jewelry. The difference in price can even dramatically narrow your choice or force you to spend far more than you expected.
- Jewelry made out of white gold is considerably less expensive than that made out of platinum. The difference in price allows you to be more creative in the design process and to have more choice in picking out a certain piece of jewelry as it will be more lenient on your budget.
- The fact that white gold does not create a patina, unlike platinum, makes it perfect for engravings and engraved patterns. The properties of white gold enable the engravings to remain visible for a long time without tarnishing the inscription.
- White gold has inherent properties that allow long-lasting square and beveled edge designs. Time and wearing will not gradually round up the edges as will happen with platinum leaving more space for modern geometrical designs.
- The 18K version of white gold is far more resistant to scratches than platinum as it is stronger because of the added metal and alloys.
- Requires the re-application of the rhodium plating to keep its shine as it will undoubtedly wear off in a short period. The re-application process not only adds to the overall maintenance price but also to the tediousness of going to jewelers every so often.
- Because gold comprises the majority of the white gold alloy, it means that it becomes thinner after years of use. Old rings and similar often-worn jewelry will neither have the weight nor the look of the original product.
- Nickel, an element often found in white gold, may cause allergic skin reactions. Wearing white gold is not recommended for those that have previously experienced jewelry-induced allergic reactions.
Related Read: In Which Metal We Should Wear Diamond?
After examining all the facts and listing every property, what is the final answer to the question platinum vs. white gold: which one is better? It would seem as though we have a tie.
Both materials are excellent for all kinds of jewelry, and it all comes down to your personal preference as well as your lifestyle.
Even though they both have their own areas of suitability, they both excel in exquisite elegance, and it is obvious neither of them will fall out of fashion any time soon.
Perhaps the best advice we can give you in the choice between platinum and white gold is to take your time, enjoy the shopping and always trust your heart.