White gold and platinum have a similar appearance and both are favored among people who enjoy that that elegant, bright, shiny white metal look for their jewelry. So what’s the difference and how do you know which to choose? Durability, treatment/care, cost and metal allergies are key things to consider when deciding between 14k White Gold or Platinum for your jewelry purchase. Below we will start with White gold and compare this with Platinum so you can make an informed decision when buying your jewelry.
Gold by nature is soft, malleable. White gold used in jewelry is blended with alloys (Palladium and/or Nickel) which gives it that white hue. Palladium and nickel increase the hardness of gold so it can be better used in jewelry. 24k Gold is considered pure gold and as metal goes it is very pliable. Because of its softness, pure gold is easily damaged and not a great fit for jewelry meant to be worn every day. Now, because 24k gold is pure and because white gold must be mixed with alloys to get the hue you will never find 24k white gold. The next highest gold value is 18k Gold which is made from 75% gold and 25% alloys. The palladium and nickel alloys both change the gold color for white gold as previously mentioned and increase the gold hardness making it somewhat better for jewelry. 18k Gold is a higher value gold that is still quite suitable for jewelry. 18k gold being still very high in pure gold content may still have some undesired softness, increasing the likelihood of wear. 14k Gold on the other hand is comprised of 58.3% gold and 41.7% alloys. With the higher alloy content, 14k gold still looks as beautiful as its higher karat counterparts and proves to be an even more durable gold option for making high quality jewelry.
Gold is expensive and sold by weight. A certain volume (weight) of gold will be used when creating your timeless piece of jewelry. Because of the soft quality of gold, when a gold item is scuffed or scratched some of that gold is lost and left behind on whatever surface scratched it. This lost gold may be imperceptible to the naked eye, and while this is usually unnoticed by the wearer, it does happen and the weight of gold in your jewelry may shrink over time.
White gold is often coated with Rhodium. Rhodium is a high quality gold enhancement process that both improves the brightness and shine plus improves the hardness and protects your gold from minor scuffs and scratches. Rhodium does wear off as your jewelry is worn and will occasionally need to be re-plated. Rhodium coating may wear off as quickly as 6 months or a year depending on how frequently the item is worn. Re-plating rhodium on a piece of jewelry can range anywhere from $70 to $120 as of this writing. Rhodium re-plating will most often restore your jewelry to a beautiful like new appearance.
Gold is a lighter weight metal than platinum and with the lighter weight results in a less costly piece of jewelry. White gold is easier to mold into jewelry and since it is easier to work with, jewelry designs are more affordable to create. Because of the lower cost, white gold would be the more affordable option as a fine jewelry investment.
White gold, when mixed with nickel to get that white hue may cause problems for people who are sensitive to nickel. Rhodium plating provides a hypoallergenic barrier which nickel sensitive people can tolerate. However, as previously noted the Rhodium plating wears down over time and sensitive wearers may require more frequent re-plating.
Platinum is a much stronger material than gold. With the additional strength, platinum is often preferred for prong-style stone settings.
While this metal is stronger, just like gold, the platinum jewelry surface may still be scratched. Two unique things happen when platinum jewelry is scuffed or nicked. First, platinum has a very strong bond with itself. Instead of metal being rubbed off or lost when scratched, the metal is simply moved. When scratches and scuffs accumulate, this creates a surface texture which experts call a “patina.” Patina can be left on the surface of platinum jewelry to increase its character or it can be easily buffed out by a jeweler to restore the original shine. The second thing that is unique when platinum is scratched or scuffed is, because the metal moves, there is no loss of metal over time. So the total weight of the gold never changes.
Platinum is naturally white and very durable as high quality metal for Jewelry. There is no need to coat platinum with Rhodium or any other enhancing treatment. Treatment may consist of occasional polishing by a qualified jeweler if desired or required to smooth out the patina and restore shine.
Platinum is a heavier metal. Its material is much denser than that of Gold. Since Platinum is also sold by weight it is a more expensive metal to buy. The density and hardness of platinum also increases the work involved in designing and molding quality jewelry which also contributes to the higher cost of platinum jewelry.
Platinum is naturally hypoallergenic. The color of platinum does not require the addition of sensitivity causing alloys to improve the hue. There is no rhodium to wear off so platinum is considered as being a better choice for people who are sensitive to nickel and love the look of white metal jewelry.
When you love the look of white gold, 14k White Gold is a great choice if you want high quality fine jewelry and want to save money on your purchase. It is more durable than 18k gold. White gold is more affordable than platinum if you’re on a budget and makes a great option if you want to invest more in higher quality diamond or gem accents to your ring.
Since Platinum doesn’t suffer any loss of material over time, in many years it will weigh the same as it did when you bought it. For this reason, it’s a great choice for people who wear their jewelry in every day conditions where it may be scuffed, scratched or nicked regularly. White platinum is more costly initially it doesn’t have a lot of maintenance costs. The extra durability makes platinum a great choice for heirloom jewelry intended to be passed down to future generations.