White gold engagement rings are one of the most popular options when it comes to metal choices for engagement rings. But that’s for good reason. White gold is incredibly versatile, it’s a beautiful, bright color, and it’s very durable for a lifetime of wear. A white gold engagement ring achieves a timeless look, and so much more.
Guide to White Gold Engagement Rings
What is White Gold Made Of?
White gold is an alloy metal. This means that white gold is achieved through mixing a percentage of yellow gold – the natural form of gold – with at least one other white metal like nickel, zinc, silver, or palladium. This mixture creates a more durable and strong metal, but not a completely white metal. It’s more of a dull yellowish-gray, which is why it’s then coated in a thin layer of rhodium to get that ultra-shiny, silvery white hue.
When alloys are made, they create golds with differing purity levels. 18K gold is 75% purity level, 14K is 58.3% purity level, and 10K is 41.7% purity level. The lower the purity level, the more alloy metal that has been used. So a higher purity level may not create a reaction, but there’s always a risk. Additionally, the lower purity level creates a more durable and stronger ring since the alloy adds strength to the soft gold. That’s why 14K gold is most often recommended.
Every year or so, depending on wear and tear, the rhodium will need to be reapplied. That little bit of maintenance along with cleaning with soap and water at home is all that’s required to keep your white gold engagement ring looking bright and new. And being softer than platinum, white gold will require occasional buffing and polishing since it can be scratched. It is less expensive than, and the price will be based on the purity level for how much pure gold is used in the jewelry.
Which is Better: White Gold or Yellow Gold?
White gold and yellow gold are both timeless choices for an engagement ring. White gold is extremely durable because it’s alloyed with strong metals. The bright, silvery hue helps accentuate the brilliance of white diamonds, making them appear even more sparkly. They don’t show scratches that easily, but will need to be replated with rhodium every few years, and anyone with a nickel allergy should stear clear.
Yellow gold is classic yet modern at the same time. It’s the purest of all the golds and the most hypoallergenic. It’s both easy for jewelers to create intricate settings from and easy to maintain. Choosing between the karats gives options for how strong of a yellow hue you want. However, it may need more frequent polishing to remove scratches and could tarnish.
Is White Gold a Good Choice for an Engagement Ring?
White gold is an excellent choice that combines affordability with relative luxury and durability. It gives a sleek look that many cannot tell the difference when compared side by side with platinum. When properly cleaned and cared for, white gold will maintain its shine and luster for years. And with rhodium plating every so often, your ring will continue to look brand new for its lifetime.
White gold engagement rings have a lightweight feel to them and are very easy to wear. Most jewelers like working with white gold, so there won’t be any limit to the variety of designs and embellishments that can be achieved with the metal. Overall, as long as you’re not allergic to nickel and are prepared for taking your ring in for new rhodium plating, white gold is an excellent choice for a durable and beautiful engagement ring.
What Type of White Gold is Best for an Engagement Ring?
For most people, choosing the type of white gold for their engagement ring is a personal choice based on preferences. While 18K is a purer gold, 14K is sometimes recommended because it has greater strength and durability. Also, while no white gold is entirely scratch resistant, the lower the purity level, the less noticeable the scratches may be.
It is important to note that nickel allergies are quite common, so if you are allergic to nickel, it’s best to avoid white gold unless you can verify the white gold you’re considering isn’t an alloy using nickel. If you want to achieve the icy white metal look, platinum would be a better choice in this instance. It will be free of nickel and only slightly heavier than white gold because it’s denser.
White gold is just as valuable as yellow gold or rose gold when compared equally to the karat number. 14K white gold and 14K yellow gold have the same amount of pure gold present, so they’re of equal value regardless of the other metals used to make an alloy. In some instances though, white gold may be slightly more expensive because of the rhodium plating.
White Gold vs. Platinum for Engagement Rings
Trends & Designing with White Gold
Although white gold is considered universally flattering on a range of skin tones, the sharp luster of white gold makes it an especially lovely pairing for those with cool undertones to their skin. Cool undertones are often present in fair and rosy skin tones.
White gold is a multifaceted metal that is known for its versatility. The silvery shade is the perfect complement to a colorless diamond. Since diamonds can appear to have a tint of color if their surrounding metal contains color, white gold enhances a bright, clear, colorless look. White gold also perfectly accentuates colored gemstones, creating a neutral foundation against which the color of the gemstone can pop.
White gold can pull off any look from sculptural to modern, vintage-inspired to classic. It has been used for generations to achieve all sorts of looks, becoming especially popular for engagement rings in the 1920s as a more cost-friendly alternative to platinum.
If a solitaire ring is right up your alley, consider different finishes to the metal band for a unique look. Bands can feature a high polish or subtle brushing all the way to heavy textures like in many of our nature-inspired pieces.
White gold engagement ring + wedding band
Oval sapphire halo ring in white gold (shown on pointer finger)