Metals for Jewelry: Platinum vs. White Gold vs. Yellow Gold vs. Rose Gold

Platinum vs. White Gold vs. Yellow Gold vs. Rose Gold

The common assumption is that special items such as diamond engagement rings should be created in yellow gold, with its warm, regal hues that inspire envy in many. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Of course, there are a wide variety of metals that can be used in jewelry, from silver to stainless steel to even carbon fiber. But today, we’ll be talking about four metals in particular; platinum, white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold.

What sets them apart from each other? What are the advantages of platinum over yellow gold? Why choose rose gold over white gold? We’ll be setting out to answer all of your burning questions in this blog. 

  • Choosing Platinum
  • Choosing White Gold
  • Choosing Yellow Gold
  • Choosing Rose Gold

Choosing Platinum

Platinum is a precious, silverish-white, non-reactive metal, and is actually one of the rare metals found in the Earth’s crust. Its name comes from the Spanish platina, which is a diminutive of plata, meaning silver.

 

Platinum makes for a stunningly clean and striking engagement ring, like the delicate Platinum Danhov AE100 Abbraccio Diamond Engagement Ring. Image courtesy of Whiteflash.

When it’s used in jewelry crafting, it’s generally used in highly pure forms, anywhere from 95% to 98%, which is a real benefit to platinum wearers and buyers. In terms of how it looks, it has the same white light that white gold has, and can retain its shine for many, many years. 

The Pros of Platinum

  • Platinum is naturally hypoallergenic, meaning it will not produce an allergic reaction in anyone sensitive to certain chemicals or materials. 
  • While it’s actually rare than gold (with only a few hundred tonnes produced each year), it’s also cheaper. At the time of writing this blog, an ounce of gold costs $1,788, while an ounce of platinum costs $943.
  • Platinum always outperforms gold in durability tests. This means jewelry will stand the tests of time a lot better.

The Cons of Platinum

  • Platinum is much more expensive than white gold, which has an incredibly similar look.
  • Like all metals, platinum can get scratched. It can also become duller over time without maintenance. 
  • Cleaning and polishing can work to strip away minute amounts of metal with each cleaning. 

Choosing White Gold

When used in jewelry, gold isn’t actually pure. Pure gold is far too soft to be used in jewelry, as it’s incredibly easy to dent or scratch. For it to be used in jewelry, it needs to be combined with another metal to form an alloy, which means it will be much harder and therefore able to be worn without the wearer having to worry. 

White gold itself is pure gold combined with durable metal/s, such as zinc, copper, and nickel, which is what gives it the ‘white’ color. A common alloy would be 90% pure gold and 10% nickel.

As you can see, white gold makes for an inspirational engagement ring. This Riviera Cathedral Pavé Diamond Engagement Ring is truly gorgeous. Image courtesy of Blue Nile.

Gold, when used in jewelry, is usually made to either 14 karat or 18 karat specifications. As pure gold is 24K, this means that 14K gold has ten parts made up of other metals. 18K gold has six parts that are made from other metals. 

The Pros of White Gold

  • White gold jewelry is cheaper than other metals such as platinum, which can be up to 40 to 50% more expensive. 
  • White gold is malleable, meaning it’s much easier to mold into intricate designs. If you’re interested in more complex pieces, white gold may offer you some fantastic choices.
  • White gold is resistant to tarnishing or rusting.
  • Its white sheen is perfect for accentuating the light performance of a diamond, and creates a nice visual harmony between the white light of the diamond and the white light of the gold.

The Cons of White Gold

  • Like other gold metals, it’s easier to scratch or dent.
  • White gold usually contains a plating of rhodium which is used to cover any off-white colors that have become present in the creation of the alloy. This can wear off over a long period of time. 
  • Nickel can be used in white gold, which some people may be allergic to.

Choosing Yellow Gold

Yellow gold is the classic gold we’re used to seeing in stores and in the media. That warm golden hue is what we most commonly think of when we think of both gold and jewelry in itself.

This 18k Yellow Gold Simon G. Fabled Diamond Engagement Ring is a classic example of beautiful yellow gold. Image courtesy of Whiteflash.

Yellow gold actually comes in different shades. For example:

  • The classic 18k yellow gold, containing 12.5% copper and 12.5% silver.
  • A darker 18k gold, which contains 15% copper and 10% silver. 

Remember, the higher the karat of pure gold, the less durable the overall jewelry product will be. However, this metal type does come with a large array of advantages.

The Pros of Yellow Gold

  • Yellow gold has been the most popular metal type for weddings and engagements, and this doesn’t seem to be changing. 
  • It is the purest color of all gold metals.
  • It is also the most hypoallergenic of all the types of gold metal.
  • Incredibly easy to maintain.
  • The most malleable, meaning if alterations need to made, this isn’t difficult for a skilled jeweler.

The Cons of Yellow Gold

  • Yellow gold is not as durable as white gold, meaning it can suffer from more dents and scratches. 
  • It needs semi-regular maintenance, which, while easy, does require continued effort.

Choosing Rose Gold

Rose gold has become increasingly popular in the last few years due to its warm coloring and unique nature. Again, it’s an alloy, being composed of a mixture of gold, silver, and copper. The more copper that the rose gold contains, the redder the metal appears. The most common alloy composition is 75% gold and 25% copper. 

Rose gold is more popular than ever because of its beauty, simplicity, and subtle warmth that suits many different skin tones and fashion styles, as you can see in this 14K Rose Gold Trio Micropavé Engagement Ring. Image courtesy of James Allen.

The Pros of Rose Gold

  • Rose gold can come in many different lustrous shades.
  • It’s popular with both men and women.
  • Widely considered to be the most romantic metal due to its pinkish-red hues.
  • Because of the inclusion of copper, rose gold is actually more durable and less expensive than other gold types. 

The Cons of Rose Gold

  • Rose gold is not a hypoallergenic metal, so it wouldn’t be the right choice for anyone with sensitivities.
  • Does not have the same accessibility as other gold styles, so you may find yourself presented with limited choice of jewelry.

As you can see, there are so many pros and cons to all of these jewelry types. So the question remains, which metal is best?

Finding the Right Jewelry For You

If we’re completely honest, there is no universal answer to this question. The best metal is the one that you prefer the most. We would recommend purchasing in line with specific considerations. For example, if you’re buying a ring for a loved one who works a lot with their hands, it may be worth choosing a more durable metal type. 

If you’re looking for the best quality jewelry out there, offered in a wide variety of metals, we would recommend searching through the vast array of offerings provided by Whiteflash, Blue Nile, and James Allen

If you would like more information on other talented retailers, you can explore my diamond retailer reviews here.

 

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