When you know you want your engagement ring to be a white metal, it may feel like you’ve made a harder choice than yellow gold because now you’ve got to decide between platinum and white gold. And while the two metals may look similar, there is quite a difference when looking at their maintenance, durability, and price. As with all decisions to make about your engagement ring, the final choice should come down to preference. So let’s discuss platinum vs. white gold so you know exactly which one is perfect for you.
Platinum vs. White Gold
The History of Platinum and White Gold
A naturally white metal, platinum was made available for commercial use around 1900. With the advent of the oxy-acetylene torch, it was finally possible to melt platinum down so it could be used in crafting jewelry. During the 1910s to 1930s, platinum had its heyday in the use of Art Deco style jewelry and was highly prized for its durability, elegance, and cool luster. With World War II, platinum was used heavily in the war effort, allowing for white gold to carve out a significant niche.
Similar to platinum, white gold also has a more recent emergence in jewelry. In the 1800s, white gold increased in popularity to rival that of the ever popular yellow gold. It became widely popular in the 1920s when it became a favorite platinum substitute that could achieve a similar look for a less expensive cost. Today, white gold is still one of the most popular metals for engagement rings and jewelry of all kinds.
The Pros and Cons of White and Yellow Gold
The two reigning white metals, platinum and white gold, have pros and cons that can help you know which would be best for your ring.
- - One of the sturdiest and most durable of metals you can choose for your ring.
- - A rarer substance than gold, it can have both a vintage appeal or a completely modern aesthetic.
- - Since it’s so strong, it works very well at securing small diamonds like those used in halo or pavé settings.
- - A hypoallergenic choice that doesn’t require re-plating over its lifetime.
- - Platinum will be more expensive than white gold with its higher purity and density/extra weight.
- - Because it has a lower level of purity in its alloy mixture, it will always likely be less expensive than platinum.
- - Delivers a sleek, modern look that is classic and timeless.
- - It’s durable and strong but also more lightweight than platinum.
- - To retain its white color and luster, it should be re-plated with rhodium every couple of years.
- - White gold when alloyed with nickel is not hypoallergenic, so you’ll need to check the metal alloy used if that’s a concern.
Platinum and white gold differ in quite a few ways, and the reason why for so many of them can be attributed to their vastly different purity levels. Rings are rarely ever made of 100% pure white gold or platinum because it simply wouldn’t be durable or workable in that form.
Most platinum rings are an alloy of 95% platinum and other metals such as ruthenium or palladium. Most white gold rings are 18k or 14k. The purity level for each of those is 75% white gold for 18k and 58.3% white gold for 14k, with the remaining percentage for each consisting of other metals like silver, nickel, palladium, copper, zinc depending on the desired color. Many people have metal allergies to nickel, making certain white golds that use nickel in their alloy off limits. Platinum is hypoallergenic meaning it won’t cause reactions.
The purity level is one of the main reasons for the price difference between platinum and white gold. Platinum is usually $500 to $800 more than white gold for the average ring because there is more pure platinum being used in the ring. It’s also 66% heavier than 14k white gold due to its higher density. Since precious metals are paid for in ounces or grams, platinum weighing substantially more than white gold will likely make it more expensive every time (unless gold and platinum price deviate drastically in future years).
While both platinum and white gold are durable metals and work well with design techniques like filigree and milgrain, platinum is considered more durable for a few reasons. When platinum is scratched, the metal is not lost as it is with white gold. When white gold is scratched, it leaves a little bit of metal on the object that scratched it and gains a tiny groove on its surface. Platinum tends to displace itself, moving to make way for the groove created by the scratch.
Over time, platinum will not wear thin since it retains its metal, but white gold can wear down if exposed to a harsher lifestyle. As a result of the platinum shifting in tiny ways, platinum will gradually acquire a matte texture and darker appearance known as patina. It’s a result of the miniscule scratches reacting with light. Some people love this look believing it adds to the character of the ring while others prefer to have the ring cleaned and polished to be restored to its original luster.
Maintenance is another big area of difference. Since white gold is a ‘created’ white metal and platinum is naturally white, white gold requires more maintenance to retain its cool, shiny white appearance. White gold is plated in the highly-reflective rhodium, a member of the platinum family, to give it a lustrous, shiny finish. Over time, rhodium will flake off or wear off, allowing the more yellowish-hued gold alloy to appear. Re-plating your ring with rhodium every 1-2 years will maintain its sleek, white shine.
Platinum engagement rings will feel sturdy and substantial on your finger whereas white gold will feel more lightweight. Both are durable and strong and do a great job of holding and protecting gemstones, but platinum’s heavier weight and density make it ideal for securing diamond settings, especially smaller stones.
While all of our rings can be made in any color gold or platinum, we have some favorites that pair beautifully with the icy shine of a white metal like platinum or white gold. They heighten certain design elements and spotlight a gorgeous white diamond sparkle.
Our Melinda is one of the best for imbuing an understated elegance combined with an unexpected organic, sculptural look. The open solitaire setting allows for plenty of light to bounce off the center stone, accentuated by small diamonds scattered along the split shank, symbolizing two paths merging into one.
In Cercee, there’s a little bit of everything to delight and inspire. Intricate, surprising, and glistening were the goals as we combined detailed, hand-engraved metal work to accentuate the basket and sides of the band. Then perfectly set channel diamonds up the sparkle and icy shine of the ring, leaving no nook untouched with some element to make you smile.
And there’s nothing quite like a timeless and classic design to pull off the height of sophistication and sparkle. With our Jessie, a classic solitaire engagement ring pairs a stunning diamond with smooth, lustrous white metal adding pops of sparkle with a pavé band and peekaboo diamonds on the gallery.
With white gold or platinum, you’re guaranteed to have an engagement ring that shines with an elegant, cool luster for the ultimate in a stunning ring. If you carefully weigh what’s most important about your metal choice and make an informed decision, you’re bound to create a gorgeous ring you’ll love for a lifetime.