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Platinum vs. Gold — Which Should You Choose for Your Ring and Why

Platinum is durable, white gold is affordable, yellow gold is trendy, and rose gold looks great on everyone. So when you’re thinking about platinum vs. gold which should you pick and why? The answer might surprise you.

For some, what color metal you should buy for your engagement ring is a non-question. Platinum vs. gold? Platinum. Full stop. For others, it’s not so simple. There’s karat (not carat) weight to take into consideration, durability, maintenance, and of course, let’s not forget the cost.

If the extent of your fine jewelry purchasing experience starts and ends at the Nordstroms earring racks, these can be real questions to consider. Your choice of metal can have a real impact on the longevity of your engagement ring. 

A yellow gold engagement ring paired with a yellow gold 6mm round band.
The Double Half Moon Solitaire in 18K Yellow Gold

THE WHITE METALS

For many of us who grew up in the ’90s, engagement rings are white gold, period. Of course, when we say white gold, what we really mean is either 14K white gold, 18K white gold, or platinum — the three lustrous white metals that come with shockingly different price tags. 

A platinum three stone ring shown in a blue velvet box with a round brilliant center stone and pear sidestones on a light green fabric background.

WHY YOU MIGHT WANT A WHITE GOLD ENGAGEMENT RING

White gold is the most popular choice for engagement rings. It’s bright, durable, and more affordable (although not by much) than platinum. It comes in four karat weights — 10K, 14K, 18K, and 24K. Karat refers to the amount of actual gold in the metal compared to other alloys. 24K gold is pure gold, and while some brands are starting to sell 24K gold jewelry, it’s very soft, and not recommend for everyday wear. When thinking about platinum vs. gold, white gold is somewhat, although not significantly cheaper than platinum

10K white gold

10K white gold is the most durable white gold with the lowest percentage of actual gold. It contains about 41.7% gold and is best for costume jewelry. Depending on the alloy, it can cause rashes, itching, or turn your finger green.

14K white gold

14K white gold has about 58% white gold, the rest is alloy metals. Many brands use 14K for fine jewelry. 14K gold is often an affordable option chosen for engagement rings.

18K white gold

18K white gold is exactly 75% white gold, and is popular for engagement rings. All white gold Frank Darling rings are 18K.

Are white gold rings hypoallergenic?

In short, no. If you’ve ever experience itching from a piece of jewelry or discovered a residue or rash after taking off a cheap bangle — chances are you’re in the 5-10% of the population with a nickel allergy. Nickel is frequently found in cheap jewelry, because — suspenseful pause — it’s cheap. When nickel comes in contact with sweat, it can erode, creating a salt that irritates your skin. White gold almost always contains nickel. If you’re allergic to nickel, but, prefer white gold, over platinum, there is hope. Ask for a palladium alloy.  Palladium is a more affordable, hypoallergenic alternative to platinum. A palladium alloy will be more expensive than a nickel alloy, but, you’ll be glad you upgraded.

My white gold ring is rhodium plated. What does that mean?

White gold jewelry is almost always rhodium plated. Rhodium is a hard, bright white member of the platinum family. It won’t tarnish or discolor and is unlikely to get scratched. Like platinum, it’s hypoallergenic. The actual layer of rhodium is very thin. It’s thinner than a strand of hair, and won’t change the thickness of the band.

The downside of plating is that it doesn’t last forever. Sweat, wear and tear, chlorine, and your natural body chemistry and PH balance will shorten the lifespan of the plating. Freshly plated white gold lasts 6 months to one year before it needs to be re-plated or “dipped” as it’s sometimes called. 

How can I tell if  I need to replate my white gold ring?

Look at the bottom of the band on the inside lip. Is it starting to yellow? That’s the natural white gold showing. It means it’s time to replate. Expect to pay $25.00 to $60.00 for a complete polishing, cleaning, and rhodium plating of a ring. No rule says you HAVE to replate your ring. If you like the look of the warmer toned white gold, let it go. The plating will wear off, and you’ll have a lower-maintenance ring underneath.

Is white gold suitable for activewear?

When white gold is scratched, the scratched metal leaves the surface of the ring, clinging to whatever scratched it. It’s lost forever. Platinum, on the other hand, can scratch, but, keeps its metal. Because of how soft white gold is, it’s less suitable for very active individuals who work with their hands and can introduce weaknesses or stress-points into the metal.

What skin tones does white gold look best on?

While gold looks best on people with cool skin tones and pinkish or rosy undertones. Turn over your arm and look at your veins. Are they more bluish? If so, you have a cool skin tone, and white gold will most likely look great on you. If your veins are more green, you have a warmer skin tone.

Is gold mining sustainable?

Gold mining is inherently unsustainable. It’s much more environmentally damaging than diamond mining. The mining process leaks cyanide into the water, which results in a whole slew of downstream issues that you can read about here. That’s why, at Frank Darling, we use 100% recycled gold. This equally beautiful and valuable metal is in all ways identical to newly mined gold – minus the environmental and health issues.

Platinum vs. gold (white) — which is better?

Pro’s of white gold 

  • More affordable than platinum
  • More durable and scratch-resistant than yellow gold
  • Compliments white diamonds better

 Con’s of white gold 

  • Requires regular re-plating / dipping
  • Not hypoallergenic, generally alloyed with nickel

Our favorite white gold engagement rings

Cushion cut three stone engagement ring in white gold shown with a 1/2 carat pave eternity band
Round solitaire shown in white gold
Oval halo shown in white gold with a pave band

WHY YOU MIGHT WANT A PLATINUM ENGAGEMENT RING

Platinum is very strong, very heavy, and extremely durable. It’s hypoallergenic, low-maintenance and designed to stand the test of time. Unlike white gold, when platinum is scratched, the metal just moves around a bit. This means your prongs are less likely to get damaged over time, and your stone is more secure than it would be if set in white gold.

What is platinum made of?

Unlike gold which is alloyed with several metals, platinum is entirely platinum. A true platinum ring is 95% platinum and stamped on the inside with the letters PLAT, PT or PLATINUM. Our platinum alloy is 95% platinum and 5% ruthenium, another member of the platinum family.

How does platinum age?

Unlike white gold which turns yellow, platinum will begin to lose its shiny finish and gain a patina. This slightly darker color can accentuate your diamond and make it look even brighter. A quick polish restores the metals original shine.

Platinum vs. gold — which is better?

Pro’s of platinum 

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Heavier and more durable

 Con’s of platinum

  • More expensive then white gold
  • Will scratch and dull over time
  • Requires repolishing every few years

Great. Let’s talk about yellow gold. Yellow gold has been rapidly gaining in popularity over the past few years. Pull out your grandmother’s jewelry box because this warm, vintage metal is more in vogue than ever. More than half of our try at home orders are in yellow gold styles. If you think your infatuation is alone, think again

SHOULD YOU CONSIDER YELLOW GOLD FOR YOUR ENGAGEMENT RING?

Yellow gold has almost all the benefits of platinum without the price tag. It’s only real drawback is that it’s the softest of all the metals. Scratches and dents are a risk to consider if you’re coveting this warmer vintage metal. 

What is yellow gold made of?

Yellow gold is an alloy metal and comes in a range of hues. The color of higher karat yellow gold is a vivid yellow, while 14 karat is quite pale. 18 karat is a good balance that has nice color, without looking too tacky. Copper content can also change the hue. Our 18K yellow gold alloy has a controlled copper content for a yellow that’s refined and moderate. It’s 75% gold, 15% silver, and 10% copper.

Will yellow gold look good on me?

Yellow gold looks great on anyone. It’s particularly striking on people with warm skin tones. Turn over your arm and look at your veins. If you have greenish colored veins (rather than blue) you have a warmer skin tone with yellow or orangish undertones. You will look great in yellow gold.  If you’re unsure which metal color to purchase, consider ordering our try at-home kit. There’s no substitute for seeing the color in person.

Four yellow gold rings from Frank Darlings try at home kit. An emerald solitaire, asscher solitaire, emerald bezel and emerald east west bezel

Will yellow gold make diamonds look yellow?

Yes, definitely, and that can be a good thing. When diamonds are set in yellow gold, they can’t help but reflect all of that beautiful metal. It’s normal for even a colorless diamond to appear more yellow when set in yellow gold. For this reason, yellow gold is a good match for a diamond that has a bit more color in it. Shop in the G – J range comfortably, and enjoy a serious discount on the diamond knowing that it’ll look just as beautiful as one that’s much more expensive.

A lab grown diamond engagement ring that has been sustainably grown set in yellow gold.

Is yellow gold high maintenance?

Yes and no. Yellow gold doesn’t require the regular re-plating that white gold does. It is, however, quite soft and can dent or scratch with wear. You’ll want to take your yellow gold ring off for vigorous activities, and will likely want to get it polished once every year or two to keep it looking it’s best.

What’s the difference between 14, 18 and 24k yellow gold?

The higher the karat for yellow gold, the more yellow that it is. Pure 24k yellow gold is a rich golden yellow. 18k is whiter and 14k whiter still. The alloy used also affects the gold’s color and can range from more orange to more green. The yellow gold we use for our try at home samples is a color match to the yellow gold alloy we use for our rings.

Let’s recap

Pro’s of yellow gold

  • The most hypoallergenic gold color
  • The purest of all gold colors
  • Looks great on people with warm skin tones
  • Compliments lower color grade diamonds (saves $$)

 Con’s of yellow gold

  • Needs regular polishing
  • Soft, and can dent or scratch

Our favorite yellow gold engagement rings

Asscher bezel solitaire in yellow gold
Harper No. 4 in yellow gold — an oval solitaire.
Emerald three stone bezel set engagement ring

SHOULD YOU GET A ROSE GOLD ENGAGEMENT RING?

Similar to yellow gold, not all rose golds are created equal. Some are very pink, others redder, others so pale you might mistake them for platinum. If you’re concerned about the color, make sure to buy from a jeweler who will let you see and try on rings before purchase. The color of rose gold can vary based off of how much copper is in the mix. More copper = more pink. Less copper = less pink. The rings in our try at home kit are an exact match to the color of the finished jewelry. So what you see is what you get.

What is rose gold made of?

Rose gold is a copper alloy. The copper gives it its unique rosy hue. Our 18K rose gold is 75% gold, 24% copper, 1% silver with trace elements of zinc, which accentuates the color of the copper. We use 100% reclaimed and refined rose gold from post-consumer sources. Refined rose gold is in no way lower quality than newly mined gold, and comes without the environmental degradation.

Is rose gold very soft?

There’s a myth circulating on the internet that rose gold is very soft. It’s the opposite. Rose gold is the hardest of all the golds. The copper content makes it extremely durable, and an excellent choice for every day wear.

Does rose gold tarnish?

Again, there’s a myth circulating on the internet that rose gold tarnished and fades with time. This is untrue. Rose gold isn’t plated. Its metal makeup makes it naturally rosy. Its color is permanent and will be retained for as long as you have it.

Will rose gold look good on me?

Unless you’re a Smurf, rose gold looks great on you. The reddish hue of the copper content pulls out your rosier undertones and compliments them, rather than contrasting. It’s a versatile color that sometimes gets a bad rap because of its relative newness.

Is rose gold high maintenance?

The best thing about rose gold is that it doesn’t tarnish. Similar to platinum, it gains a patina that gives it a darker, vintage look. A quick trip to the jeweler will polish it right up. But, many customers crave that broken-in look that comes with 1-2 years of daily wear.

Rose Gold is also a more durable gold alloy than either white or yellow gold, and less likely to scratch or dent with wear, and doesn’t require the annual pilgrimage to the jeweler that white gold requires for its regular rhodium re-plating. All in all – relatively low maintenance.

Let’s recap

Pro’s of rose gold

  • Low maintenance
  • Very durable
  • Doesn’t require replating
  • Looks great on all skin tones
  • Can be more affordable than white or yellow gold

 Con’s of rose gold

  • Not hypoallergenic

Our favorite rose gold engagement rings

East west marquise solitaire engagement ring shown in rose gold
Georgian cluster engagement ring show in rose gold
Pear three stone engagement ring

NOT SURE WHAT METAL IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

Platinum vs. white gold — if you still don’t know the answer that’s ok. Take the quiz to customize your try at home kit and see the metals IRL. It’s the best way to decide which one is best for your engagement ring.

Get started by selecting your favorite four rings. We’ll send you sterling silver size seven replicas set with 1 carat CZ stones. Want to see other stone sizes? Just ask.

Each try at home kit comes with a pre-paid return label, ring sizer, and The Handbook. A practical guide to purchasing a diamond for the matrimonial inclined. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get this party started.

Frank Darlings try at home kit