Choosing Between White Gold and Platinum September 17, 2013

What’s popular with engagement and wedding bands

White is still the most preferred color for metals when people are looking for jewelry. Especially when it comes to engagement rings and wedding bands; platinum and white gold are the most obvious metal choices.

Gold and platinum are rare and precious metals that are very suitable to making jewelry. They have always been associated with wealth and luxury. Both are given the term “Noble Metal” because of their resistance to rust, corrosion, and to most chemical reaction.

History of Gold (Yellow & White) and Platinum

From prehistoric times; gold has been mined and used by people in many civilizations. It has such an attractive yellow color that has captivated the dreams and imagination of people for millennia; it is the universal sign of wealth, and still plays a very important role as a financial medium. Gold is found in nature in almost pure form; it is relatively easy to mine, melt, and process into coins and jewelry.

As a substitute for yellow gold, white gold is made by adding alloys, such as platinum or zinc, to yellow gold. White gold was created in the 1920’s and has gained popularity especially for making engagement and wedding rings. White gold rings compliment gems of different colors and make the appearance of the rings very eye-catching.

Because of the high density and malleability of gold; it is easy to shape it into thin and workable wires and plates. Although; in its pure form it can be used to make some type of jewelry; gold is mostly used as an alloy with other metals (typically 58% pure in 14 karat gold, and 75% pure in 18 karat gold). The reason for alloying gold is to make it more workable and durable; and also to give it different colors. Therefore; jewelry can be made in yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold depending on the other metals used in the alloy.

Platinum is a relatively new element. This beautiful noble metal was discovered less than three hundred years ago, and the process to use it in jewelry was perfected in the second half of the nineteenth century. It is such an extremely rare metal; that it was calculated that all the platinum that has ever been mined in the world (about 180 million troy ounce), would fit in a cube twenty feet on each side.

The density and malleability of platinum is even higher than that of gold. It is used in jewelry in an almost pure alloy (typically 90% or 95% pure). Platinum gained a reputation of exclusivity because of its rarity, high price, and purity. Since the style and fashion of the time was to use only white metal in the making of diamond jewelry; the beginning of the twentieth century saw platinum being offered by the famous luxury jewelry brands (like Tiffany and Cartier).

New Metals and Mixes for Jewelry

When the Second World War came, there was a lot of rationing for metals that were needed for the war effort. The government restricted the use of platinum except for the military industry purpose. That restriction led the jewelry industry to search for an alternative to platinum that will fill the gap in the demand for precious white metal. The industry succeeded in developing the alloy mix and the technique of making white gold. Basically; the alloy or mix needed to produce white gold is a combination of nickel, palladium, and silver in various percentages depending on the type of jewelry and the method of manufacturing.

During the 1980’s, platinum gradually came back and stayed side by side with white gold in the jewelers’ showcases. By then the styles has changed, and for the next thirty years, yellow gold was the popular choice for the type and color of metal being used in making jewelry. In the 1990’s; there was another shift in the styles, and the appetite for white metals came back strongly. Both white gold and platinum became very popular again, and this trend is continuing especially in wedding rings.

The preference between these two metals remains mostly personal, because each has its own appeal and advantage. The advantage for white gold, it is more readily available, the selection of jewelry made in 10 kt, 14 kt, or 18 kt white gold is wider in general and more so in the very important category of bridal rings and wedding bands. White gold jewelry is noticeably less expensive, and it is easier to repair and resize.

The only problem with white gold is it is not really white, it is yellowish-white. It does require periodical maintenance of polish and rhodium finish in order to keep it white and shinny. The rhodium finish process is relatively inexpensive, and can be done by many jewelers in a short time.

On the other hand; platinum has the advantage of exclusivity, and being a status symbol. And because of its high density, it does not wear down or thin out with time. Since platinum is a natural white metal, platinum jewelry does not need the periodical rhodium plating that white gold jewelry needs.

However, even though platinum is very dense and doesn’t wear down; it is easy to dent and scratch and become dull faster than gold. Regular polish is required to keep it shining and elegant.

Rise in Value for Gold and Platinum

 

During the last four years, the price of gold escalated in a much higher percentage than the price of platinum, that’s why the prices of gold and platinum jewelry are very close to each others, and the price of the metal is a lesser factor in making a choice between them. At the end it remains customer personal preference.

At Le Vive Jewelry, we carry a wide selection of platinum, 14 kt white gold, and 18 kt white gold jewelry. Visit us at our local Jewelry Store in Riverside CA or visit to our Online Store to look at our selection, or to further assist you in making your choice.  If you are looking into trading in your jewelry or selling your gold, platinum or other jewelry pieces, we'd be happy to be of service to you!