WHITE GOLD VS PLATINUM – WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
White gold VS platinum, what is the difference? This article explains:
WHITE GOLD – WHAT IS IT?
Not everybody knows it, but white gold doesn’t exist naturally. It’s made from yellow gold mixed with white metal alloys like palladium or silver.
Afterwards, it’s given a beautiful coating with a rare, silvery-white metal called rhodium. This final rhodium finish gives white gold its luminous sheen.
WHY IS WHITE GOLD MIXED WITH OTHER METALS?
The reason why white gold is combined with alloys is because gold, as a metal, is extremely soft. If pure gold was used on its own in jewellery, it would bend out of shape very quickly.
For this reason, both yellow gold and white gold have to be mixed with harder alloy metals, to make them more rigid and durable in jewellery.
SO IS MY WHITE GOLD JEWELLERY PROPER GOLD?
You may have heard the term “carat”, abbreviated with the letter ‘K’. This measurement is used to describe the purity of gold. It tells you how much gold is in your jewellery.
The measurement is on a scale of 24. On this scale, 24K is the maximum and it represents pure gold. However, as we’ve already covered, pure gold is too soft for use in jewellery.
All jewellery is therefore made with precious metal alloys, containing set carat weights of gold. The gold carat weights most commonly seen in jewellery are 9K, 14K and 18K:
- 9K gold contains 37.5% pure gold
- 14K gold contains 58% pure gold
- 18K gold contains 75% pure gold
HOW CAN I TELL HOW MANY CARATS OF GOLD ARE IN MY JEWELLERY?
In the UK, all gold jewellery items above 1 gram in weight must be hallmarked. Hallmarking means a small stamp imprinted onto your jewellery, stating the carats.
In Great Britain, all hallmarking is carried out by Government Assay Offices.
When a piece of jewellery arrives at an Assay office, they examine it in their laboratory. If the gold content meets their strict requirements, they stamp it with the corresponding hallmarking symbol.
Read our comprehensive Hallmarking article if you’d like to learn more.
PLATINUM – WHAT IS IT?
Platinum is a naturally occurring white metal. It is rarer than gold, and much heavier and harder.
Because of its hardness, platinum can be used in a purer form than gold.
Usually at about 95%. Platinum jewelelry is consequently more expensive than gold jewellery.
IS PLATINUM SCRATCH PROOF?
Many people believe platinum is “scratch-proof”. In a way this is true, but not exactly correct. What actually happens is that while platinum doesn’t actually scratch (in the sense of losing particles), its surface can develop little bumps and ridges.
This “ridging” is natural, as the metal gets pushed to one side and another while the jewellery’s owner wears it. This is especially true for engagement and wedding rings worn on your hand day in day out, as they come into constant contact with hard surfaces.
This surface ridging in platinum jewellery is called “the patina of age”. It is viewed as something desirable. The patina shows an item of platinum jewellery is much loved and used, and gives it an antique heirloom feel.
PLATINUM VS WHITE GOLD – THE FINAL VERDICT
The main advantage of white gold over platinum is that it is much more affordable. However, the disadvantage is that you may need to have your white gold item recoated in rhodium every so often. This is inconvenient and the cost can add up over the years.
Platinum jewellery, on the other hand, is initially more expensive than white gold, which can be limiting if you’re on a low budget. However, it can be argued that platinum is better than white gold because it is more cost-effective in the long run (no need for recoating) and has better investment value in the long term.