Platinum vs white gold? Want to know the differences between white gold and platinum?Confused? It takes knowing the exact differences between white gold and platinum for you not to confuse jewelry made of platinum and white gold. And even when you think you have some sort of idea about the differences between these two metals, choosing one over the other can seem quite impossible.
This means that knowing that platinum is one of the best precious metals is not enough. The differences in price tags won’t be enough to allow you to know with 100% certainty that one metal is white gold, and the other is platinum.
It’s because of the confusion between these two metals commonly used in high-end jewelry that we have dedicated this article to white gold and platinum – their differences and similarities.
Let’s started with a “Frequently asked question”
White gold and platinum are the same?
NO, they are not the same metal. It’s day and night. People ask this question because both metals have a very similar looking.
So, keep reading to find out more about white gold and platinum.
For a better understanding, I hope you guys read the brief story of both metals and then the 7 differences between them.
The brief history & introduction of white gold
Gold is a naturally-occurring precious metal that’s high-regarded and deemed a symbol of wealth. White gold, on the other hand, is a derivative of pure gold. White gold doesn’t exist naturally, and it’s not mined, but made in a laboratory or a manufacturing plant.
White gold is made from pure gold (natural yellow color), and it’s turned into this beautiful white metal with a stunning brilliance when it is combined with other precious metals and metal alloys such as silver and palladium (some white gold jewelry have nickel, and you should be careful about such pieces if you are allergic to nickel.
As a result of the combination of these alloys into the pure gold, the resultant gold appears pale, but the most important part is that the mixing of the gold with alloys results in an increase in the gold’s durability and rigidity. But the process doesn’t end there – for the brilliant glossy finish you see in white gold, the resultant pale mixture undergoes a process called rhodium plating where a white film of Rhodium metal is applied to the gold-alloy base, hence that luminous white gold that looks so good when used as a setting for high-clarity diamonds.
The other thing you need to know about white gold is that the value of this metal will change depending on the percentage purity and carats. As you already know, carat is the term used to describe gold’s percentage purity. 100% gold purity is 24K, but since this pure gold is too soft/ malleable, it’s impossible to use it in jewelry or anything else in between, hence the addition of alloys, as is the case with white gold.
The most common types of white gold you will come across are 14K, 18K, and in other cases, 10K. These numbers represent the value of pure gold present in the item out of 24. So, an 18K white gold ring would be 18k gold, and the difference (6) represents the percentage of the metal alloy incorporated into the metal. This gold is 75% pure.
The brief history & introduction of Platinum
Unlike white gold, platinum is a white naturally-occurring precious metal. What you don’t know, however, is that platinum is the rarest and the most expensive metal in the world today, and its rarity is made out to be similar to the rarity of gold. But despite being rate, it’s not used in bullion minting. It is a highly desirable precious metal, though.
The desirability of platinum comes from the metal’s resistance to tarnishing, the beautiful luster, and the incredible metal strength. It is because of these characteristics that platinum is very popular with high-end jewelry.
How did the human race come across platinum?
It turns out that platinum made its way into human life centuries ago, in the age of the Ancient Egyptians. The understanding around the importance of platinum did not, however, make sense until many centuries later.
Specifically, archeologists made the earliest discoveries of platinum during the ancient Egyptians’ periods in the famous Casket of Thebes, which was found adorned with platinum, as well as silver and gold. Besides the Ancient Egyptians, the indigenous peoples of South America were known for the incorporation of platinum into necklaces, nose rings, and other ceremonial jewelry. However, these early accounts of the use of Platinum show that platinum was used alongside other metals like iridium and palladium.
Then there was the Spanish discovery that took place when the first of the Spanish Explorers made their maiden trip to the New World. These explorers discovered platinum besides gold. However, these explorers or Conquistadors failed to see platinum as the rare, luxury metal it os today, thinking of platinum as a nuisance white metal. The discovered platinum wasn’t used, and they called this new metal ‘Platina’ a word derivative of the Spanish word for silver, ‘Plata.’
It wasn’t until the 1820s when Russia made platinum popular, and in the 1880s, Canada became the leading producer of platinum. Today, South African is the leading producer of platinum, and platinum is primarily used for jewelry.
The other modern uses of platinum include the creation of hard disks, and it’s also found extensive uses in the medical industry where it’s used for dental fillings, chemotherapy treatments, and pacemakers.
What’s the difference between white gold and platinum?
While they look so much alike, white gold and platinum have several differences. Knowing how they differ, besides the fact that platinum develops a nice patina and white gold needs re-plating is important in ensuring that you buy the right jewelry.
1.White Gold Vs. Platinum – Composition
White gold is often sold as 14K white gold, which means that the jewelry piece you are buying is 58.3% pure gold. You will also find 75% pure gold white gold as 18K white gold.
As mentioned above, white gold is made from pure gold and metal alloys, and the reason why this is a necessary process is that pure gold is too soft to be used for jewelry. The metal alloys used in white gold include palladium and silver, but there are a few cases where nickel is incorporated into the metal mix.
Platinum, on the other hand, is one of the strongest and the heaviest precious metals around, which means that if you are looking for platinum jewelry, you will need to decide whether you want the lighter version of platinum of the heavier platinum jewelry. Platinum is free of metal alloys, and it’s also the densest precious metal around.
It’s also important for you to note that platinum is a highly reflective metal that is up to 60% denser than white gold. It’s also purer than white gold. The purity of platinum is measured in parts per thousand, and any platinum jewelry you buy is between 850 and 999 part pure platinum, which translates to a purity of between 85% and 99%. The purest white gold is 75% pure gold (18k), and it isn’t as durable.
2.White Gold Vs. Platinum – Color
The other big difference between white gold and platinum lies in color. While both metals have a silver-ish tinge, they are different in that platinum is white, while white gold is a slight gray.
The main reason for the difference is that white gold is made from yellow gold, which has alloys added to it then covered in a whitish rhodium plating. Rhodium plays a significant role in giving white gold its almost white finish, but this bright white layer isn’t exactly white, and it retains some gray.
Even with re-plating done after every few years, white gold is never really, white. Note that white gold has to be re-plated every few years because it loses its first plating coat after a few years.
Platinum is white, and though it develops a patina after some time, it never really loses its unique white-colored finish. Polishing platinum gives it a nice smooth and shine, and because of its durability, it doesn’t scratch.
3.White Gold Vs. Platinum – Durability
From the details of the composition of these two metals above, it goes without saying that platinum is extremely durable compared to white gold.
For anyone who doesn’t know about how these metals come to be, this might seem impossible. However, given the fact that platinum isn’t chemically manipulated to be hard and that it doesn’t scratch, platinum is obviously more durable than white gold.
Anyone who’s had rings made of these two metals will you that the white gold ring loses its shape and the backside thins and even gets dinged and broken after some time. Platinum, on the other hand, is known to maintain its shape for a very long time.
Note that platinum is naturally dense and heavier than white gold. Platinum has a specific gravity of 21.4, while gold’s specific gravity is only 19.3. Also, platinum is 60% denser than white gold. With these differences in mind, it makes sense that platinum is extremely durable, and it will last decades.
But what exactly do the differences in durability between these two metals mean? For starters, it means that it wouldn’t be the smartest move to wear a white gold ring and a platinum ring next to each other because the denser platinum will rub off against the white gold ring.
Regarding polishing, platinum is harder, and it doesn’t lose its integrity with time because polishing only displaces then metal molecules, and nothing is really lost, unlike the softer white gold, which comes off in small amounts every time it’s polished (it tarnishes).
Despite its softness, there is one area in which white gold wins – it’s easier to set diamonds and gemstones on white gold than platinum.
4.White Gold Vs. Platinum – Cost & Price
While white gold might be softer and less durable than platinum, but if you are looking for something affordable, white gold takes the day as it is considerably cheaper than platinum.
Platinum is up to 30X rarer than gold/ white gold, which is why platinum costs a lot more than white gold. To put the rareness of platinum into perspective – 2700 tons of gold will be mined each year, against only 80 tons platinum.
Besides rarity, platinum also costs more than white gold because of its density. A platinum ring with the same dimensions as a white gold ring weighs considerably more.
There’s also the fact that crafting platinum jewelry calls for the use of more specialized tools and equipment, as well as higher temperature conditions, not to mention a higher level of expertise, compared to white gold jewelry.
Lastly, platinum costs more than white gold because it is purer (95%) pure than white gold – the purest white gold is 75%. The higher price for platinum has to do with the money you are paying for the percentage of pure platinum in that ring.
5.White Gold Vs. Platinum – Culture
Of course, we also need to look at the differences between these two metals in terms of culture and the perspectives people hold for these metals, especially in a society that clearly regards gold higher than all other metals.
Gold is the most popular metal around, and its popularity surpasses that of platinum by far because gold has always been associated with wisdom, wealth, and divinity. The Bible uses the term “Golden Rule,” and Aristotle used “Gold Mean.”
Then you have phrases like the “Golden years” and “Golden Age,” which have been used to signify good times. A 50-year anniversary is called the golden anniversary. These terms show the significance of gold and how highly it is regarded. And since pure gold is tarnish-free, gold symbolizes the eternal vows exchanged by couples, for example, the gold-adorned Indian brides who receive the best of gold during their weddings/.
However, things are now changing, and platinum is taking that top slot as the symbol of prestige and wealth – think Platinum credit card that’s regarded highly compared to the Gold credit card. There’s also the new obsession with platinum in Hollywood red carpets.
Clearly, things are changing all around us. But before you choose one over the other, it’s important for you to check the pros and cons of either metal then settle on what works best for you.
6.White Gold Vs. Platinum – Long-Term Care
White gold tarnishes, and it needs to be re-plated in rhodium after every few years.
Platinum does not, however, tarnish but obtain a patina that doesn’t need to be removed because it gives the metal a more antique finish that enhances the brilliance of diamonds.
7.White Gold Vs. Platinum – Hypoallergenic Potential
Platinum has a very impressive profile, and the best part about this metal is that it is the only 100% true hypoallergenic metal around, all thanks to its high purity level.
On the other hand, white gold could cause allergies, especially if one of the metals alloys used is nickel. So, if you have very sensitive skin, it would be a good idea to invest in platinum.
Pros and cons of white gold
- It’s beautiful
- More affordable than platinum
- A large variety of jewelry designs
- Easier for setting different stones
- Can be resized
- Needs periodical rhodium plating
- It tarnishes
- Not durable
Pros and cons of Platinum
- Very durable
- No tarnishing
- Nice patina develops over time
- 100% hypoallergenic
- It enhances that diamond sparkle
- You cannot resize platinum
- It’s expensive
White gold and platinum are excellent metals that make great jewelry.
And if you weren’t sure which metal to choose for your ring, the comparison above should help you make a smart choice.
Platinum is expensive but long-lasting and beautiful, and the hallmark of wealth and prestige today, but if you need something affordable or an option that you can resize easily, white gold would be a better option for you.