Platinum and White Gold:
Which should you choose for your wedding & engagement rings?
Many people are choosing the white luminescent quality of these metals over yellow gold. However, the metals have differences you should know before making a purchase.
What is white gold?
Pure gold is naturally yellow. Twenty-four karat is pure gold, but is too soft to create jewelry with. Fourteen karat white gold is 58.5 percent pure gold and 18 karat white gold is 75 percent pure gold. The balance is comprised of other alloy metals, which make the metal more workable, and can alter its golden color to hues such as white, yellow, rose, or even green.
To create white gold, alloys like silver, nickel, zinc, or palladium are added to achieve a white look. The final step in crafting white gold jewelry is to rhodium plate the piece. Rhodium is a metal in the platinum family and this gives it a very white color. Without the process of rhodium plating, the metal would have a slightly yellowish tint.
Fourteen and 18 karat white gold do not have the same purity, strength, durability, rarity or natural luminescence of platinum.
What is platinum?
Platinum is a naturally white metal. It is a denser and heavier metal than white gold. A six-inch cube of platinum weighs 165 pounds. A platinum ring is approximately 70 percent heavier than the same ring in 14 karat white gold.
Most platinum jewelry is between 90 and 100 percent pure. The balance is usually comprised of other metals in the platinum family, like iridium and ruthenium. Some people are allergic to the nickel in gold jewelry. Because of platinum’s purity it is hypoallergenic, resists tarnishing and will not react to chlorine. Platinum also costs considerably more than white gold.
Like all precious metals, platinum scratches, however the tremendous density of platinum makes it much tougher than other precious metals. When you scratch gold you are actually wearing the metal away, but when you scratch platinum the metal is displaced on the surface and does not wear away. This is similar to running your finger in sand. The sand parts but is still there. While a white gold ring will last many years, the shank and prongs will eventually wear thin and have to be replaced. A platinum ring, on the other hand, will rarely wear thin.
Platinum and Gold Care
Platinum and white gold look virtually the same when new, but over time the two metals wear differently. Platinum takes on a dull, patina look, similar to a steel color. Many people favor this look.
With white gold, eventually the rhodium will wear off, and the slight yellow tint from the gold will appear. This happens often with rings, because rings get more wear than other pieces of jewelry, like earrings and pendants.
Cleaning platinum and gold jewelry is virtually the same—use a good pre-packed jewelry cleaner or take it to your local jeweler. A jeweler with the right equipment can restore both platinum and white gold to like-new condition by polishing your jewelry and in the case of white gold, re-rhodium plating. As with all precious jewelry, store with care, separating pieces with a soft cloth.
Which Is Right For Your Left Ring Finger?
Most of the time a women’s wedding band will match her engagement ring. So if she has a platinum engagement ring she will probably get a platinum wedding band so that as they wear they will look the same. However, don’t think you’re stuck with an either-or situation. Platinum, white and yellow gold can all be worn together—even in a single piece of jewelry. Many rings and pendants combine platinum and 18 karat yellow gold for a beautiful two-toned look.
Many men like the feel of a heavier piece of jewelry, although they don’t particularly like the heavier price tag. Gents rings, which are generally much heavier, will have a substantial monetary difference between platinum and white gold. In the majority of cases this will be the determining factor. Many people can’t justify the added expense, especially because at the time when purchasing wedding bands they are also spending money on the wedding and honeymoon.
So which metal is right for you? One metal is not better than another. Each has pros and cons and it is important to understand them in order to decide what is right for you.