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Why White Gold is a Better Choice Than Platinum

We’re talking platinum vs. white gold. Platinum is hypoallergenic. White gold is more affordable. Platinum is lower maintenance. White gold is more affordable. Sense a pattern?

Much like your choice of a partner, your choice of metal for your engagement ring can have a long term impact on your happiness (not to mention the longevity of your engagement ring). There’s karat (not carat) weight to take into consideration, durability, maintenance, color, shine and of course, let’s not forget the cost. But, first things first — let’s talk about white gold.

white gold three stone engagement ring with pear side stones in a blue frank darling engagement ring box

Is White Gold Real Gold?

Yep! White gold is real gold. In fact, it’s exactly what it sounds like — gold, with some other metals mixed in. Those other metals turn the gold from the yellow color we think of when we think of gold, to a warm yellow-ish beige.

Other Metals?

White gold is usually alloyed with other white metals that make it harder. Some of those metals, like palladium, are innocuous, others, like nickel, less so.

Our 14K white gold alloy is 58% gold, 23% copper, 9% copper and 10% nickel. Our 18K white gold alloy 75% gold, 14% copper, 5% zinc and 6% nickel.

Unlike gold, platinum is white and bright. This is because it’s entirely platinum. Our platinum alloy is 95% platinum and 5% ruthenium, another member of the platinum family.

So How Does White Gold Get It’s Bright White Finish?

White gold is almost always plated with rhodium. 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.

Generally, rhodium plating lasts about 6 months, at which point the natural color of the white gold will begin to show through. Part of caring for a white gold engagement ring is having it replated, or dipped, every six months to one year. This can usually be done when you take it in for polishing and will restore your rings bright white finish. Similar to getting your nails done, the quality of a dip can vary from jeweler to jeweler depending on how thick of a plating they do, and costs from $20 – $50.

Behind the scenes photo of our workshop in NYC
The ring in the foreground is white gold, the ring on the right is platinum. Note the color difference.

How Can I Tell if my White Gold Ring Needs Replating?

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. 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.

Should I get 10K, 14K or 18K White Gold?

14K white gold is the best blend of durability, price, and longevity. 14K white gold is about 58% gold which makes it more durable than 18K white gold (containing 75% gold), and less alloyed than 10K white gold. 10K white gold is best suited for costume jewelry and can cause rashes, itching, or turn your finger green.

Rashes?

Rashes. In contrast to platinum which is hypoallergenic, white gold almost always contains nickel. When nickel comes in contact with sweat, it can erode, creating a salt that irritates your skin. 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.

Does that Mean White Gold Isn’t Suitable for Active Wear?

On the contrary, durability is one area where white gold outshines platinum. Platinum is less hard than 14K white gold and scratches more easily. But — 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, creating a patina. This patina can be polished off to restore the metals original shine.

And the Winner is…

Confused yet? There’s a lot to take into consideration, so we thought we’d break it down into the five main think you’ll want to think about before choosing a metal.

Durability — 14K white gold

14K white gold is harder than 18K white gold or platinum and well suited to hands that do things. Choose a white gold bezel setting for maximum durability.

Maintenance — Platinum

Unlike white gold which requires replating and polishing every six months, platinum is a get it and forget it type of metal. Regular at-home cleaning combined with an annual polishing will keep your ring looking as shiny as the day you first tried it on.

Color — Platinum

Platinum is white, period. White gold is more like a beige. While the rhodium plating turns white gold from yellow to white, this finish requires rigorous upkeep to look your ring looking so fresh (and who has time for that).

Security — Platinum

Platinum is less malleable than white gold which makes it ideal for setting diamonds. It’s extremely difficult to bend and perfect for fine details and dainty prongs. Our two tone setting feature platinum prongs for this reason.

Price — 14K white gold

There’s no question that 14K white gold is the most affordable metal choice for your engagement ring. It generally is around $300 cheaper than platinum, which is $300 you could put towards that center stone. Plus, you can always upgrade to a platinum setting down the line.

Allergies — Platinum

Platinum is hypoallergenic, making it the perfect metal for those of us with allergies.

Level of Finish — Platinum

Platinum finishes a bit nicer than white gold, white finer details, and a more refined look. Jewelers love working with platinum because it stays where it’s supposed to. This can be especially important for dainty baskets or delicate prongs.

Sustainability — Tie

Neither gold or platinum mining is sustainable. In fact, gold mining is 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

Our Favorite White Gold Engagement Rings

Figured it Out?

If you’re still not sure which metal is right for you that’s OK! This is one of the last decisions you’ll have to make so why not leave it until the end. There’s plenty of other things to decide in the meantime. Like your stone shape, setting height, and whether or not to get pavé diamonds on the band.

In the mean time, order up a free try at home kit to try on some white gold settings and see how they look on your skin tone. Or, if you’re still waffling between stone shapes (who isn’t) request a free sketch of your dream ring. There’s no limit, and we can help you visualize the carat weights on your actual ring size.

Take the quiz and request a free sketch to get started.