White Gold VS. Platinum

October 7th, 2009

The time has come for you to get a new ring.  You like white, but are not sure about the differences between White Gold (WG) or Platinum (Plat).  For starters we’ll begin with what the metals are.

White Gold – White Gold is an alloy made up of pure gold, with Nickle and Silver mixed in for strength.  Most white gold in the US is either 14K (58% pure gold) or 18K (75% pure gold).  The remaining percentages are a mixture of Nickle and Silver.  White gold became popular during the 1940’s and has seen steady popularity ever since.  White gold is durable, costs the same as yellow gold, and has the vivid crisp white look people love.

Platinum – Platinum is almost completely pure.  For jewelry purposes, it is alloyed either 90% or 95% pure.  The remaining percentages are made of of exotic metals such as Iridium and Cobalt.  Platinum dates back to the mid 1800’s and was “the” choice metal for the beautiful art deco styles of the early 1900’s.

Advantages and Disadvantages

 - White gold’s advantages are that it works easily (from a jewelers perspective), it has cost advantages, and it resists scratches well.  White gold prongs have shown to be very durable and hold the gemstone beautifully.  As White Gold wears or ages, it will tarnish slightly.  To prevent this White Gold is Rhodium Plated (some say dipped).  Rhodium is a Platinum group metal that is very white and hard.  The plating lasts a year or more and will need to be periodically refreshed.  Some people are allergic to Nickel and may develop an allergy to white gold due to the Nickle content.  18K White Gold may emliminate this problem, also Rhodium Plating may be helpful.

-Platinum is very white, never needs to be plated (tho some jewelers do).  Platinum is heavy, weighing more than 1.5 times than gold, it has a beautiful dense feeling on the hand.  Platinum is hypo-allergenic, I have never encountered a person who is allergic to Platinum.  Platinum is somewhat soft and scratches easily, prongs may need adjustment more frequently.  Because it is soft, platinum develops a patina (multiple minute scratches) that appear grey with wear.  These can be polished out, but polishing and working on Platinum requires more time and experience.  The cost of Platinum as jewelry is commonly 2-3 times the cost of White Gold.

Which Choice is Better:

It largely becomes a personal matter.  If allergies are common, Platinum is the clear choice.  For value and utility White Gold is the obvious choice.  In some cases it depends on the type of jewelry being made.  For example, a wide contemporary heavy ring with lots of bold surface area I would recommend White Gold.  A more delicate design with intricate detail might be better in Platinum.  Cost is always a factor, so understand that with a given budget the Diamond will be smaller in the Platinum ring.  I have found this to be single most popular decision maker.  Most of my customers would prefer a larger diamond in White Gold than a smaller one in Platinum.