The Differences Between White Gold and Platinum

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To the naked eye, white gold and platinum look identical, which prompts consumers to ask what the differences are. The following article describes the differences between white gold and platinum and details the various pros and cons of each material.

White gold explained

White gold is an alloy, consisting of pure yellow gold, along with other white metals such as silver, palladium, nickel and so on. Along with this, the resulting material is also often plated with a rare and precious metal, known as rhodium, which imbues the white gold with a brilliant shine.

Why are the other metals added?

Like silver, pure yellow gold is by nature a very soft material, rendering it unsuitable for jewellery use, unless additional metals are added to help increase its hardiness and resilience.

Is white gold still considered real gold?

You’re no doubt familiar with the term ‘karat’ (not to be confused with ‘carat’, which is the unit of weight measurement for precious stones), which is used to indicate the purity of gold, with 24K indicating pure gold, which, as we’ve discussed earlier, is inappropriate for jewellery purposes. All gold jewellery, be it yellow, white or rose gold, is combined with a specific amount of other metals to give its overall karat value.

The following is a list of karat ratings and their corresponding gold purity percentages:

  • 9K is comprised of 37.5% pure gold
  • 14K is comprised of 58% pure gold
  • 18K is comprised of 75% pure gold

How do you determine the karat gold value of your jewellery?

All gold jewellery is required by law to be hallmarked (stamped, engraved), which clearly identifies the karat gold value. All gold jewellery is analysed at an establishment known as an assay office, whose job it is to evaluate the gold purity of particular pieces and brand them with their respective karat ratings, upon approval.

Platinum explained

Platinum is a precious metal with a distinct silvery-white appearance. It occurs less frequently than gold and is a denser and stronger material. Unlike pure gold, which is soft and unsuitable for jewellery purposes in its purest form, platinum’s considerable strength means that it can be used for jewellery with purity values of up to ninety-five percent, which is significantly more than 18K gold’s 75% purity.

Can platinum be scratched?

While it’s true that platinum does not shed fragments of itself upon being grazed upon by another material, its exterior does still generate deformations and protrusions. These surface anomalies occur naturally, as the result of user wear. This is particularly apparent for engagement rings which are worn on a daily basis, as the platinum material is in constant contact with your finger.

Unlike other materials whose surface can tarnish and degrade over time and be seen as a detriment, the development of these minute ridges on platinum pieces is actually desirable, as it denotes a great deal of usage and therefore affinity and love for a particular piece.

The final word

White gold is noticeable cheaper than platinum, however, just be mindful that your jewellery may require a new layer of rhodium every 6-12 months, as the rhodium will eventually wear away as the result of regular use. This is performed by a jeweller and while only a small fee is involved, the cost of paying for this over a long period of time will add up.

Platinum jewellery, on the other hand, will have a higher price tag, but the minimal expenditure required for maintenance can make it the better investment over time. With its superior strength and durability, platinum is seen as the ultimate choice for items that are going to be worn on a frequent basis.

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