Is 10k white gold better than sterling silver for jewelry? And more importantly, which of these two metals would make the best kind of jewelry for you?
Though the answers to these questions are not as straightforward as anyone may hope, we can all agree that choosing between these two white metals based on their appearance might not be that easy.
Even though the metals look great and one can be confused for the other, they have several distinct differences in their physical and chemical characteristics that set them apart from each other.
So, in this article, we’ll look at the differences and the similarities between 10k white gold and sterling silver. So, here is an in-depth comparison of these two metals.
What is 10k white gold?
White gold is one of the three alloys of gold that is created by mixing pure gold with metal alloys such as nickel, zinc, and in other cases, palladium.
Since the result is white gold or, rather, a version of gold that is off white, the metals that are blended with gold to create white gold are often white or white-hued metals that not only ensure the desired color effect but also strengthen the metal, hence the gray/white hue.
Nickel, palladium, and zinc are the common white metals added to gold to create white gold. Nickel and copper could also be present in the white gold alloyed metals.
It is important to note that white gold is alloyed with other metals, often to enhance its durability and increase its strength.
In terms of the purity of gold and the color of white gold that you end up with, 10k white gold is the version of gold that is alloyed with a small percentage of gold, 41.7%, and the rest, alloyed with other metals mentioned above, at 58.3% – this is, 10 parts pure gold and 14 parts alloy.
More specifically, 10k white gold is 41.7% pure gold alloyed with 47.4% silver, 0.9% zinc, and 10% palladium. The result of this blend is an off-white gold alloy. But, the alloying is not all that is necessary to create the shiny white gold that we know of.
After the alloying, the created ‘white’ gold has to be electroplated with a white metal, often rhodium, hence white gold, which boasts a luxurious finish and lowers the risk and prevents corrosion of the metal.
And with karatage an important factor in determining the value of gold or the solid gold alloy, the higher the number of karats, the higher its purity level and precious level; while the lower karat gold is less precious, more durable, and more affordable.
Pros and cons of 10k white gold jewelry
- Thanks to the high alloy content of metal alloys in white gold, 10k white gold is solid and durable.
- Rhodium-plating enhances the durability of 10k white gold
- Rhodium coating on 10k white gold protects the white gold base from corrosion and tarnishing
- It is a popular choice that is often used for engagement rings and earrings, among other kinds of white gold jewelry
- It is cheaper than other versions of white gold and also platinum
- 10k white gold looks great on persons with fair and rosy skin tones, and its neutral or light appearance creates an exquisite and stunning look.
- Fairly scratch-resistant
- The low purity level of 10k white gold affects its appearance, and it is generally pale and much more subtle than 14k or 18k white gold.
- The high percentage of alloys and the possibility of nickel present in the 10k gold means that 10k gold might not be the safest metal option for anyone allergic to nickel. The nickel present may easily trigger an allergic reaction once the rhodium-plated layer wears off.
- Rhodium coating wears out after some time, and the jewelry would have to be re-plated often.
What is sterling silver?
Most of the fine jewelry tagged silver is not made of pure silver but 925 sterling silver. Like pure gold, silver is a soft precious metal that would be too malleable for use in practical everyday jewelry.
So, fine silver jewelry is made of an alloy with 92.5% pure silver mixed with 7.5% copper instead of soft pure silver. Other than copper, zinc and nickel are sometimes added to the silver to create sterling silver, although most sterling silver pieces are alloyed with just silver and copper.
The result of the alloying process is a durable alloy made to make pretty much all kinds of sterling silver jewelry on the market.
You can identify genuine silver jewelry by looking for the .925 stamp on the sterling silver piece. Alternatively, look for the words or letters, STERLING, STER, Sterling Silver, or STG.
Pros and cons of Sterling silver
- It is more affordable than 10k white gold
- Nice, lustrous, shiny white finish
- Hypoallergenic with no risk of nickel allergies
- Durable, lightweight
- Versatile, with numerous design options that you can choose from
- It doesn’t scratch or tarnish quickly, and it will hold up well in the long run
- Easy to maintain its bright, lustrous finish. Often, you only need to clean and then polish it, and it will be as good as new.
- No replating necessary
- Sterling silver tarnishes, leaving a dark gray or black layer of tarnish on the jewelry after some time, and so it needs to be cleaned and polished regularly.
- No signature brilliance
- It doesn’t have a high resale value.
The differences between 10k white gold and sterling silver
10k white gold might not be the cheapest gold alloy, but it costs more than sterling silver. So, even with a gold composition that is less than 50% its weight, 10k white gold is more expensive and more valuable than sterling silver.
So, if the cost of the jewelry is your only deciding factor and you want to buy the most affordable jewelry you can find out of the two, we’d recommend sterling silver jewelry.
But if you don’t mind splurging a bit and spending a little more later when it’s time to re-dip the white gold in rhodium, white gold would be a good option.
The other reason for the cost-effectiveness of sterling silver jewelry over 10k white gold is the fact that silver is in much greater supply than gold
10K White gold is made of 41.7% pure gold alloyed with 57.3% other metal alloys, then plated with rhodium. On the other hand, Sterling silver is made of 92.5% silver alloyed with 7.5% copper. 10k white gold is made of much more valuable metals than sterling silver with these metals under consideration. Note that th
Remember that despite both metals being made of precious metals, gold is more valuable than silver, and the 10k white gold will fetch more on the market should you resell it years later.
White gold is a popular choice for white metals because of its brilliant white color. Of course, the brilliant color is that of rhodium plated over the ‘white gold,’ but it’s what makes white gold stand out.
After blending gold with the other white metals listed above, the resultant alloy is not completely white as it still carries some of the yellow tinges of pure gold. So, it is dipped in rhodium, and the rhodium plating gives it that nice, bright white color.
Then you have sterling silver jewelry, known for its silver color. Thanks to the high content of pure silver in sterling silver, jewelry made of sterling silver will have this grayish-white hue.
The jewelry’s overall look also tends to be white, shiny, and lustrous. Unfortunately, it doesn’t retain this color forever, and because of the reaction between silver and hydrogen sulfide from the air, sterling silver jewelry tarnishes and dulls after some time.
Density affects the durability of metals. Gold is denser than silver means that 10k white gold will be denser than sterling silver. Note that gold is twice as dense as silver or sterling silver, so sterling silver jewelry is much lighter than jewelry made of 10k white gold.
This also means that white gold is much more durable than sterling jewelry, something that is enhanced by the fact that white gold jewelry is much more resistant to scratching than sterling silver. And with 10k white gold as the strongest version of the gold alloys, it is pretty durable.
However, sterling silver is still durable, and it lasts a reasonably long time. The only challenge is that it may not be very strong to withstand daily wear, especially if you intend to wear the jewelry daily.
There is no doubt that sterling silver jewelry is much more popular than jewelry made of 10k white gold.
This is because of the affordability of sterling silver, the softness of the metal that allows for the creation of jewelry in the most versatile styles and designs, and its durability.
10k white gold is not as popular; 14k and 18k white gold are more popular.
Which is better, sterling silver or 10k white gold?
We can’t say that one metal is better than the other because, as discussed above, both metals have upsides and downsides.
The not-so-good in one metal is somehow seen in the other one, and so, it is safe to say that choosing between these two metals is largely a personal choice.
Sterling silver will be a better choice for you if budget is the problem for you, while 10k white gold would be perfect if you don’t mind the higher price tag and need for replating with rhodium after about 2 years.
So, considering these, and how both are durable and reliable, the choice is yours.
Sterling silver and 10k white gold are elegant white metals that create unique and elegant fine jewelry. Sterling silver is cheaper, tarnishes, and doesn’t shine as bright as white gold, but it doesn’t call for expensive maintenance later.
But then 10k white gold is valuable, and it holds value for years, so, it might be an excellent option to invest in.
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Tiger is a fashion&jewelry lover. He is also a fashion jewelry manufacturer that help thousands of small business to grow and also do business with some big fashion jewelry brands. He is a truly metal expert and he will share some information you are looking for.