Everything You Need to Know About White Gold and Silver


Engagement rings are jewelry pieces that many people spend a sizeable portion of their time looking at.  White metals are a beautiful choice when looking for engagement rings.  The white color paired with a bright diamond is a perfect combination.  With so many options of white metals, how will you know which one is the best for you? 

This guide will help you differentiate between the two main white metals.

White Gold 

White Gold is a gold-based alloy, covered with a white rhodium plating.  White gold jewelry typically has the warmth of gold with the clarity of silver.

Silver

Silver jewelry is typically made of 925 silver.  Jewelry made of 925 silver typically give off a cooler impression compared to white gold.

White Gold vs. Silver 

For many people, white gold and silver are pretty much indistinguishable from each other.  However, the two metals have many different characteristics that are can help distinguish the two from each other. 

Appearance

It may be difficult for many to tell the difference between white gold and silver, as both are white metals.  However, when placed next to each other, the differences are stark.  The main qualities that separate white gold and silver are its color and shine.

Color

Of all white metals, the color of white gold is closer to gray.  Because its base metal is gold, and plated in rhodium, white gold jewelry has a warmer appearance compared to silver.

On the other hand, silver falls the closest to white, in terms of color quality.  Because of its beautiful metallic luster, most silver jewelry gives off a cool quality.

Of course, the color of both white gold and silver may change depending on its composition and the distribution of materials within the metal.

Shine

Shine is another way to determine the white gold from silver.  Between the two metals, silver has a more illustrious shine, reflecting up to 98% of light.

However, because silver jewelry is composed of different metals to strengthen its durability, it can tarnish easily. 

While white gold may not reflect light as strongly as silver, it does not tarnish.  But with constant usage and improper care, the rhodium plating will peel and reveal gold. 

Durability 

One of the biggest areas of difference between white gold and silver is its durability.  Gold itself is incredibly strong, with its hardness at 125Hv on the Vickers Hardness scale.  However, not the same can be said about the rhodium plating of white gold.  With constant usage, the rhodium plating can peel and reveal the gold beneath.

Conversely, pure silver is weak and can be easily scratched and mixed with other materials for it to maintain a strong structure.  Therefore, pure silver does not make good jewelry and why most jewelry is made of 925 silver.  Even with different metals mixed in, its hardness is measured at 70Hv.

Weight

Relating to its durability, the weight of white gold and silver is a characteristic that can easily differentiate between the two.

Similar to durability, white gold is the heavier of the two, while silver is the lighter.  For reference two silver rings is the same weight as one platinum ring!

Cost

Between white gold and silver, white gold is typically the more expensive metal.  Originally created as a substitute to platinum, white gold eventually exceeded the price of platinum. 

For reference, a white gold ring can range from $400-$1000 while a silver ring can be within the $100 range.  Of course, the higher the price means that the ring has a stronger concentration of gold, and likewise, lower concentration means lower cost.

Composition

For jewelry, both white gold and silver are comprised not only of gold and silver respectively, but also a mixture of different metals.

For white gold jewelry, also known as white gold K18, uses a mixture of 95% gold and 25% nickel and zinc is used.  To maintain its white color, a rhodium plating is used.  For individuals with nickel allergy, please ensure that the plating is free from nickel before using.

While for silver jewelry, a mixture of 92.5% of sterling silver and 7.5% other metals (i.e. aluminum, copper, zinc, etc.), hence the name 925 silver.

Maintenance and Care

With all jewelry, proper maintenance and care is important to increase the longevity of your pieces.  White gold and silver are no different.

While white gold does not tarnish, its rhodium plating can wear off with constant use and improper care.   

Unlike white gold, silver jewelry can tarnish with constant usage and humid environments.  Lack of polish can also increase the rate of tarnish on silver jewelry.

To maintain either white gold jewelry or silver and prolong its usage:

  • Remove jewelry before doing any household chores
  • Store jewelry in an airtight, dry, dark place
  • Clean jewelry with a soft, dry cloth before putting it away

Engagement Rings

White gold engagement ring is perfect for warmer skin tones.  The richer color is more suitable for classy cuts of diamond.  For individuals who love traditional designs, white gold is a perfect choice.

On the contrary, for individuals who have cool toned skin colors, silver engagement ring is a more suitable option.  With such a sleek color, the option to choose modernistic diamond designs is a must.  Silver jewelry is the go-to for individuals who favor contemporary style.

Which Should You Choose?

Between white gold and silver, how would you know which one is right for you? 

White gold is ideal for individuals who want longer lasting jewelry or love a classy design, and don’t mind a more costly price tag.

Silver is perfect for people who have a preference for its beautiful reflection or a sleeker style, and enjoy a less hefty price tag.

Ultimately, whether white gold or silver, the most important things when it comes to choosing which one to buy, remember to choose the one that you enjoy the most!

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