Wondering which is better, platinum or white gold jewelry?
You're in the right place.
In this Learning Guide, I'll compare these two white metals and answer questions like:
- Is White Gold Hypoallergenic?
- How Expensive is Platinum?
- Which Precious Metal Requires More Maintenance?
Key Differences Between Platinum & White Gold
The main differences between platinum vs white gold are:
- Platinum is hypoallergenic whereas white gold may irritate those with sensitive skin
- 14K and 18K white gold is more affordable, whereas platinum engagement rings are more expensive
- Platinum keeps its silvery-white color, whereas white gold has to be rhodium plated repeatedly over the years
- White gold jewelry holds up better against scratching, whereas platinum scratches easier
- A white gold prong may break easier, whereas a platinum prong is less likely to break
Platinum vs White Gold: Origin
Though not as popular as gold jewelry, many jewelers offer engagement rings and wedding bands in platinum.
Yellow gold was popular up until platinum came into the picture during the early 20th century. It was the first white metal readily available. Royalty and celebrities are clamored for platinum jewelry.
Platinum is a shiny white metal with a high density. One of the reasons it’s valued is because platinum jewelry is 95% pure platinum. The other 5% of platinum alloy is usually cobalt or palladium.
Read also: Pros & Cons of Cobalt Wedding Rings
That’s opposed to a 14K white gold piece of jewelry which is 58.5% pure gold.
Platinum is a mined metal. It’s a rare precious metal to find, which also drives up its value. Most platinum comes from South Africa, but only small amounts are found.
Today, platinum is a common metal offered for engagement rings online, but not as much in stores.
White gold is the most popular engagement ring metal in jewelry stores. That goes for both brick and mortar stores and online retailers. It came into popularity around the 90s and people started turning away from yellow gold.
Gold has been used in jewelry since ancient times, used by early civilizations like the Mayans, Egyptians, and the Aztecs. During that time, it was 24K pure gold.
Pure gold is too soft to be used as jewelry. You’ll have a hard time finding 24K gold jewelry unless it’s plated. This goes for white, yellow, and rose gold. A 14K gold or 18k gold wedding ring is more popular than a platinum ring.
Pure gold is expensive, but not durable enough for everyday wear. To make it wearable, it’s mixed with other natural metals to make it stronger.
The color is naturally yellow gold. To make white gold, they mix it with different white metals. It not only increases durability, but also makes it a paler light yellow gold color. After that, it’s coated to give it a bright white look.
Read also: How Long Does Gold Plating Last?
Platinum vs White Gold: Appearance
Platinum metal came before white gold. Worn mainly by the rich and royal, it wasn’t affordable for the average person. It was the first white metal available.
A platinum engagement ring may be stamped with 95 Platinum, PT, pt or 950 on the inside of the band. The 950 represents the 95% platinum purity.
Because of its purity, platinum is considered a hypoallergenic metal and is best for those with a metal allergy.
You can assume most platinum jewelry is solid platinum, but it can be plated on pieces found on Amazon. Make sure to look for the stamping to ensure its platinum through and through.
Platinum isn’t a well known engagement ring metal because it’s not readily available in local jewelry stores. It costs jewelry stores more to buy platinum engagement rings.
Since platinum is naturally white, it doesn’t require any extra jewelry care in order to keep its color. That’s one of the biggest appeals about it.
White gold was created after platinum jewelry became popular. They wanted an alternate white metal that was more affordable than platinum.
To make a white gold engagement ring, yellow gold has to be mixed with other white metals. These alloy metals help take away some of the yellow color from the gold. But it doesn’t make it the silvery white color we all know and love.
White gold jewelry has to be plated with rhodium. Rhodium is one of the metals in the platinum group. Rhodium is what gives it that shiny, sharp silver look.
Rhodium plating isn’t permanent. It holds up better with other pieces of jewelry like necklaces and bracelets.
The rhodium on a white gold ring will fade faster. Jewelry consultants recommend you re-plate rhodium once a year. It’s helpful to find an online retailer that includes rhodium plating as a part of their service plans, like James Allen or Ritani.
Rhodium plating may fade quicker on some people than others. I’m one of those people. It’s due to the natural oils in your skin. Some people’s chemical makeup wears it down more.
White gold may contain small traces of nickel, the most common metal allergy.
You’ll be able to tell if your ring needs rhodium when you can turn your hand over and notice the bottom of your ring looking dull and faintly yellowed. That’s the alloyed white gold showing through the rhodium.
Read also: All You Need to Know About Rhodium Plating
Platinum vs White Gold: Price
White gold was introduced to the jewelry market as a cheaper alternative to platinum. But just how much cheaper is platinum than white gold?
When you compare platinum and gold’s spot price, you might not see too much of a distinction. That’s because it’s a little different when it comes to fine jewelry.
Platinum is a very dense metal. Its density is about 20% more than white gold. To create a platinum engagement ring, more platinum has to be used because of the density.
A white gold engagement ring doesn’t have this problem. Moreover, buyers have more options with white gold depending on the karat they buy.
Platinum is said to be about 40-50% more expensive than white gold. However, this looks a little different in the jewelry context.
Platinum vs White Gold: Value
It’s a no-brainer that platinum has a better monetary value than gold.
If you were to resell a platinum engagement ring or wedding band, you’d be more likely to fetch a higher price than white gold.
That being said, investing in platinum jewelry isn’t recommended. Platinum isn’t high in demand, despite its rarity. Once white gold came into the picture, people opted for that instead.
White gold still has value, but you have to factor in the fact that 14K white gold isn’t pure gold. The white gold alloy metals bring the price down, so you’d need more to increase value.
If you’re looking for long-term value, both of these ring metals are great for everyday wear. Keep in mind that they both will wear down.
Platinum is a highly durable metal. Some engagement rings have platinum ring heads with white gold ring settings.
Read also: The Ultimate Ring Setting Guide
Even though it’s strong and harder to break, it’s not as resistant to scratching as white gold. Platinum will need polishing and frequent cleaning. However, prongs and other small metal details will be less likely to break if hit.
White gold’s long term value works well for everyday wear, despite the rhodium plating. You should keep in mind that if you don’t have a warranty to cover it, you’ll need to pay out of pocket for its rhodium plating upkeep.
Rhodium plating can cost between $40-120, depending on complexity and if your rings are soldered. If you do it once a year for the next however many years, that can get expensive.
White gold engagement rings cost more than platinum engagement rings to upkeep, but they’re a cheaper up-front cause.
Still having a tough time deciding to get a platinum ring or a white gold ring?
My recommendation is to choose 14K white gold for engagement rings instead of platinum. Here’s why:
- 14K white gold has a great scratch resistance; platinum not so much
- 14K white gold is readily available everywhere, platinum is harder to find
- 14K white gold is more affordable, allowing you to put more money toward your center stone
- Platinum is a heavier metal and not everyone will like the weight
- Platinum jewellery costs more to repair than white gold jewelry