Differences Between White Gold and Platinum

Most rings or wedding bands are made from one of three metals: platinum, white gold or yellow gold. For diamond engagement rings or wedding rings, the popularity of platinum and white gold has increased dramatically in recent years.

We have often been asked by customers what the differences are between white gold and platinum.

White gold vs platinum: which is better?

If you “Google” this question, you get a ton of information which is hard to decipher. To help you make an informed choice for your ring or band material, here are some basic facts about the differences between platinum and white gold. There are 3 primary factors to consider: Color, Weight, and Cost. After discussing these factors, I will also give you my personal advice on how to make this choice.

Color (and Rhodium Plating)

Both white gold and platinum are "white" in color. However, the color of white gold is actually more light-gray in color than pure white. Because of this, white gold jewelry is usually plated with a very hard, white metal known as rhodium. Rhodium is very white, reflective, extremely hard and virtually tarnish-proof. The rhodium-plating process coats the jewelry with a fine white, shiny surface. To maintain the full whiteness of a white gold engagement ring, the rhodium must be replated from time to time, depending on how much wear and tear it absorbs.

Platinum is naturally "white.” While platinum does not always require rhodium plating, jewelry made from platinum is often rhodium-plated in their final polishing process to give it that bright and shiny look. Platinum can lose its luster over time, and, like white gold, the rhodium can wear off. Again, replating brings back the high shine and brilliance to the jewelry.

If you look at two identical rings, one a white gold ring and one a platinum ring, both of which have been rhodium-plated as part of their final polishing process, you will not be able to tell the difference between them. But there are other differences.

While there is a cost to re-rhodium plate jewelry, and most jewelers charge for this process, we at A. Fishman & Son consider it a service we provide to our customers for the jewelry we manufacture. After all, we want our jewelry to keep looking great!

Weight

Though rhodium-plated white gold and platinum jewelry are virtually indistinguishable to the casual eye, there is a significant difference in weight. The density of platinum is roughly double that of gold. So an item made from platinum will be twice as heavy as that made in gold.

As you can guess even before I get to the issue of cost, platinum rings are much more expensive than gold rings. But one of the advantages of platinum is the way it feels on your hand when you wear the ring. It feels heavier and “richer.” In an expensive piece of jewelry, the difference to make it in platinum is not that big of a difference and the “feel” is much superior.

Price

As I previously noted, platinum is denser and, therefore, heavier than gold. Because it is rarer and also has an industrial use (catalytic converters for automobiles and other uses), it is usually more expensive as a metal than gold is. Today, however, because of the week industrial economy world wide and the hedging that is going on in gold, gold is actually about 10% more expensive than platinum. But because platinum used for jewelry is 95% pure versus only about 58.5% (for 14Kt) or 75% for 18 karat gold, the cost per gram for platinum is still greater than the cost of gold. Combined with the difference in weight, the cost of a platinum ring is about 4 times the cost of a similar ring in white gold. Platinum is also less malleable than gold, which means that more labor is required to create a platinum engagement ring or wedding band than one made from white gold. For reasons of weight, purity and labor, platinum jewelry costs much more than white gold jewelry.

Of course, if the ring that you are using has diamonds in it as an accent, the difference in the cost between using platinum and using white gold will not be as significant (relatively speaking) as the difference between two rings without additional diamonds. And this is especially true in the case of other diamond jewelry.

What should you do?

I believe that your decision should be based on your overall budget for the total ring, including the diamond.

If you have a more limited budget, I highly recommend that you go with 14 karat white gold. The advantages are: (1) lower cost, (2) which gives you the ability to use more of your budget for your important diamond, and (3) the same look as platinum. While you may “feel” the difference, I think the fact that you can purchase a larger or better quality diamond within your overall budget is more valuable than the “feel” of the ring.

If, however, you have a larger budget, I recommend that you use platinum for your ring. The platinum ring will “feel” more important on your hand than white gold. This is an intangible benefit which doesn’t carry a price tag on it, but which can be considered “priceless.” There also is a “relative” cost factor to consider. Unlike with a more limited budget, the ring itself, if made in platinum, will not take up a significantly larger portion of your overall budget.