White and yellow gold are the most popular metal options for engagement rings today, but knowing one over the other remains the biggest challenge for gold lovers.
Choosing between white and yellow gold gets very confusing too, which why most people often end up buying jewelry in white and yellow gold.
Since we don’t all have the luxury of buying both rings, understanding the differences between the two will help you know why you should choose one and not the other, and when you should get a white gold engagement ring over the yellow gold ring.
In this article, we look at everything you need to know about white and yellow gold for engagement rings. What makes these gold rings different from each other?
What is a white gold engagement ring?
While both white gold and yellow gold are made of pure gold that is mixed with a number of metal alloys, there is nothing like natural white gold. The reason for this is that pure gold is a very soft precious metal and it’s natural form; it cannot be molded into jewelry.
Even if you tried to make jewelry from pure gold, it wouldn’t be durable and capable of holding its shape in different conditions.
For that reason, pure gold must be mixed with other metals/ alloys to make it durable and sturdy enough for use and for making gold jewelry.
White gold jewelry is made from pure silver mixed with colored alloys such as nickel and palladium. The colored alloys make the gold appear paler.
After mixing pure gold with metal allows, the gold is then plated with rhodium for that white gold/ platinum look.
A white gold engagement ring is, therefore, pure gold mixed with metal alloys with a rhodium plating covering it all up.
What is a yellow gold engagement ring?
Yellow gold, on the other hand, has a yellow-finish, and unlike the super-soft pure gold, yellow gold is harder.
The reason for the hardness of yellow gold comes from the mixing of pure gold with other metals like silver, copper, nickel, zinc, and/ or even palladium.
Out of all these alloys, yellow gold has a high concentration of copper, which is the metal alloy responsible for the yellow-gold color.
Keep in mind that even with the differences between yellow and white gold, rings made of either yellow or white gold will be labeled with a specific karat number, for example, 14K or 18k. This number represents gold’s percentage purity in the jewelry.
24k gold is pure gold, 14k gold represents 14 parts pure gold and only 10 parts alloy, while 18K means that the ring is 18 parts pure gold and 6 parts alloy.
In 14k white gold, for example, the alloys used differ, but this ring will also have extra layers of rhodium plating.
Pros and cons of white gold engagement rings
While white and yellow gold are highly regarded, white gold is more universal, and it often looks great on everyone.
If you are unsure about the engagement ring to choose for the surprise proposal, it might be a good idea to opt for the white gold engagement ring because you cannot go wrong with this metal option.
But before you make the final decision, here are the pros and cons of white gold engagement rings.
- White gold boasts an expensive platinum look, but it costs less than actual platinum. So, if you are looking for white gold jewelry that is virtually identical to platinum, but at a fraction of the price, it might be a good idea to opt for white gold. In this case, a solitaire-set platinum ring would cost at least $800, while a simple white gold ring with a solitaire setting would be less than $200. For an affordable option that won’t break the bank, it would be a good option for you to opt for the white gold ring.
- White gold lasts significantly longer than yellow gold. The reason for this is that the alloys used to make white gold result in a more durable ring than the ones made of yellow gold. Unlike yellow gold, white gold doesn’t get scratched/ dinged too easily.
- Rhodium-plated white gold is nickel and lead-free, which means that it is not only hypoallergenic but also safe on the skin/ body. Note, however, that you don’t always have nickel-free white gold alloys, and most of the time, nickel is added to the gold for that pale color to be attained faster. Therefore, if you are buying the engagement ring for someone with sensitive skin, it would be a good idea to ask the manufacturer for confirmation of all the metals used to make the ring. Otherwise, if nickel is present, the ring will cause irritation.
- White gold requires a little more in maintenance because the rhodium plating wears off with time, and when that happens, the white gold is worn down, and you will start seeing the pale yellow gold-alloy mixture underneath showing. So, if you are buying a white gold engagement ring, you must be ready to have it re-dipped in rhodium after a few years. The good news is that the ring will look as good as new after it is re-dipped.
- Irritation in case nickel is present in the metal alloy mixed with pure gold, especially when the rhodium plating wears off.
Pros and cons of yellow gold engagement rings
For anyone who wants that gold-look on their jewelry, or if you know that your fiancé-to-be loves all gold jewelry, yellow gold will be a good option for you.
It is timeless and classic, and the most interesting bit is that yellow-gold was the most common metal used for engagement rings.
It’s considered a more traditional metal, and it’s particularly flattering on olive, tanned, and darker skin.
Pros of yellow gold engagement rings
- Vintage feel. If your girl loves the vintage look on jewelry, you won’t go wrong with yellow gold. It has a nice, warm luster and looks really good in vintage settings. Yellow gold has been gaining popularity recently, with the best part about yellow gold jewelry being the fact it is hard to imitate yellow gold jewelry, unlike white gold rings/ jewelry.
- Easy maintenance. Yellow gold is easy to maintain than white gold because it doesn’t need to be dipped every few years, like white gold. With yellow gold, you will only need to clean it regularly and mildly with warm water and soap, then dried with a soft cotton/ microfiber cloth.
- Cheap resizing. Unlike the rhodium-plated white gold, yellow gold is more malleable, and it’s quite easy to resize it, which means that jewelers will not charge too much to resize the yellow gold engagement ring. The softness also means that the repair of the yellow-gold ring will be easier if you ding it accidentally.
- It scratches easily. Although it’s easier and cheaper to repair or resizes, the softness of yellow gold means that it will have many more scratches over its lifetime, and it will not look brand new after several scratches. What this means is that it would be a smart idea to opt for the 14K yellow gold than the 18k gold, especially if your lady leads a very active lifestyle and wouldn’t want to remove the ring all the time they want to do what needs to be done.
Choosing between white gold and yellow gold?
If you are trying to choose between white and yellow gold jewelry and the differences between the two covered above haven’t helped you made up your mind, then this section should do the trick.
To make the right choice for you, first, you need to keep in mind that there isn’t much of a difference in price between white and yellow gold, although white gold costs a little more. But as long as you are looking at two 14 or 18k white and yellow gold rings, there will be a very slight difference in price, with the rhodium-plated ring being slightly more expensive.
The simplest way for you to differentiate between the two rings, however, is for you to look at the kind of diamond you will have set on the gold.
Generally, white gold rings show color a lot more easily, which means that opting for a diamond with a noticeable yellow tint won’t be the best idea. If you have to settle on white gold, only choose diamonds above color H, think D, E, and F.
On the other band, you can choose diamonds down to J or even K if you opt for yellow gold jewelry. The best part is that the diamonds with a tinge of yellow will look perfect with yellow gold.
Now, there a big price difference between J and H diamonds, and this will make the real difference between the yellow and white gold you opt for.
At the end of the day, the ring you settle for will depend on your budget and your girl’s/ partner’s preferences. Overall, both white and yellow gold rings are timeless.
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Stephanie is a jewelry lover when she was a teenager. Her major was fashion design when she was in college. She is a jewelry designer at SOQ Jewelry and other design companies. Now she is also a writer for our website. She writes a lot of designs&brands posts with very actionable tips.