White Gold VS Platinum – 5 Facts To Consider Before Buying

White gold and platinum are two gorgeous choices available for the metal in jewelry. They have a similar silvery-white color that gives any piece of jewelry a dazzling brilliance. However, which should you choose for your piece? There are benefits and disadvantages to both– so let us look at white gold vs. platinum.

White gold vs platinum

White gold is lighter, whiter, and cheaper than platinum, but it also owes its white shine to the rhodium plating. Platinum has a silvery-white color on its own, white gold is in fact pale yellow under the white rhodium coating. Both platinum and white gold will scratch and develop a patina, but platinum will be much harder to bend out of shape so it’s a better choice for those hard on their jewelry. White gold may not be hypoallergenic, depending on the alloy, while platinum is a guaranteed hypoallergenic metal. Overall, it’s much easier to find ready-made white gold jewelry than platinum, so last-minute or surprise jewelry is easier to find this way.

What is white gold ?

White gold is a metal alloy consisting mostly of pure 24k gold, mixed with other metals for added durability (copper, silver, platinum, palladium, nickel, etc). Which metal combination is used depends on the goldsmith that make the alloy. The most common mixes are the following:

  • 10k white gold – 42% 24k gold, 48% palladium, silver, and zinc
  • 14k white gold – 58% 24k gold, 42% silver and nickel
  • 18k white gold – 75% 24k gold, 25% nickel and zinc

The lower the karat of your white gold, the less actual gold there is in it. This makes it more durable, since higher karat gold is softer. 24k gold is impossible to use in jewelry since it can easily be bent out of shape. 22k is the highest wearable karat gold and you may still need to treat it with care. 

Read also: 18k gold vs 14k gold 

What is platinum ?

Platinum is a metal alloy commonly used in jewelry, but of a higher purity than most gold rings. The usual platinum alloy is 925, meaning 92.5% of the metal is platinum with the remaining 7.5% iridium, rhodium, cobalt, palladium, or ruthenium (or a combination of these).

This alloy is the toughest used in jewelry so you can rest assured any ring made of platinum will not be easily bent out of shape. For the prongs holding the diamond this is incredibly important. 

All this being said, there are a few differences between platinum and white gold and we need to discuss each and every one of them. 

Platinum is hypoallergenic, white gold might not be

Metal allergies are real, and perhaps the most common sign is the green/black mark on your skin when wearing alloys with nickel or copper in them. Some people bypass the color on the skin and develop local dermatitis, with cracked skin, itchiness, and possibly swelling. 

Platinum is one of the very few 100% hypoallergenic metals you can use in jewelry. It has no nickel or copper in its alloy so it won’t trigger a reaction.

White gold may have either copper or nickel, depending on the karat and on the exact alloy the goldsmith used when making the ring. If wearing white gold directly (sans rhodium) you may or may not have a skin reaction, depending on the alloy and your sensitivity. If the gold is rhodium-plated (almost always is) then you skin will not have a reaction. 

White gold is more common, easier to find pre-made jewelry

If ease of access is a concern, then white gold is definitely a better choice. It’s just more common and thus easier to find as pre-made jewelry, compared to platinum. 

White gold is the most common engagement ring metal, and usually at 14k. You can also find 10k if you want a stronger metal, and 18k if you want higher purity.

There are pre-made rings, bracelets, earrings and so on in platinum, they’re just less common and you may have to look for longer. As for why white gold is more common in jewelry, it’s a combination of reasons:

  • Platinum is harder to work into the required shape, so not every goldsmith will want to create pre-made platinum jewelry. They will do custom platinum, but there’s no real point to having ready-made platinum pieces when they don’t sell as fast.
  • White gold is cheaper than platinum, and this is always a concern for most shoppers. It’s simply good business to stock what sells the most.
  • The overall knowledge of those looking to buy jewelry is usually limited to white vs yellow gold, and most don’t even know about alternative metals, so they’re not aware platinum is an option.
  • White gold is the standard engagement ring metal, and has been for the past few decades. Even if a customer saw someone wearing platinum, they wouldn’t know unless they asked, so they could easily assume they saw white gold instead. 

Platinum is tougher, may last longer than white gold

Platinum is a dense, though metal and once it’s set in a shape, it wont’ be easy to bend it out of shape, or pry the prongs open. This is a great thing when it comes to the prongs keeping the diamond or other gemstones in place. Platinum will scratch though, developing a nice patina on the side most hit (usually the underside of the ring).

White gold is also tough, but not as tough as platinum. So while both will hold up very well to daily wear, platinum has the upper hand. It’s a bit like the difference between diamond and moissanite in hardness. Both are exceptionally tough, but diamonds are simply the toughest. 

White gold is a brighter white than platinum

White gold is a lot brighter and whiter than platinum… but it’s mostly due to its rhodium plating. All white gold rings come with a rhodium plating by default. If you want to see the actual color of your white gold ring ask the goldsmith or jeweler to not plate the ring when you put in your order. 

On its own, white gold is a very pale yellow, but it’s such a common thing for it to be rhodium-plated that everyone rightly assumes that it’s the whitest, brightest gold version. 

Compared to white gold, platinum is just a bit silvery and a bit duller. In truth you’re comparing the platinum to the rhodium plating but again, very people people actually get to see white gold’s true color. 

A workaround is to get your platinum ring rhodium-plated, if you want it brighter and whiter. The plating is about $60-100, depending on where you get it done and how thick you want it. 

Platinum is denser, and will cost more than white gold

Platinum is a dense metal, and because of this your jewelry will end up heavier. Platinum by itself is 21.4 gr/cm3, while gold is 19.3 gr/cm3, which isn’t the biggest difference possible but in a gold wedding band only 75-42% of the piece is actual gold, the rest is alloy. So a white gold wedding band will usually be half the weight of the same band in platinum (in the same finger size).

Not only is platinum jewelry denser than gold jewelry, platinum is also about double the price of gold in general. So you can end up with a platinum piece about 50-100% more expensive than a white gold piece.