White gold is a very popular choice for engagement and wedding rings as well as for other types of jewelry.
The reason for that is quite simple – it has a gorgeous whitish look that’s similar to that of platinum and it’s also more durable and long-lasting than regular yellow gold.
The white color of this gold variation goes very well with a lot of skin tones and clothing styles, and it also has a very modern look compared to the classic and vintage style of yellow gold.
If you’re considering white gold for your jewelry, read on for our complete guide.
What Is White Gold Made Of?
White gold is an alloy made of yellow gold combined with other metals such as copper, zinc, silver, nickel and/or palladium. It’s those metals that give white gold its color, as well as its superior durability compared to the much softer, standard yellow gold.
There are two main ratios for white gold:
- 75% gold to 25% other metals – results in 18K white gold. It’s more valuable due to the higher gold content but softer than 14K white gold.
- 58.3% gold to 41.7% – results in 14K white gold. 14K is more durable than 18K gold and is also a whiter alloy. However it’s less valuable as it has less pure gold.
White gold alloys aren’t really white. They have a yellowish tinge that comes from the gold. This is why most white gold jewelry also has a thin coating of rhodium on top of it.
This rhodium coating is expensive in and of itself and adds to the value and the price of the piece. It also contributes to the classic white color of the gold making it reflective and shiny as well as durable.
White Gold Color
White gold band set with diamonds. See this here.
White gold’s color can vary a little bit based on its karats, i.e. – on the amount of pure gold in the alloy. The rhodium plating, as mentioned above, gives white gold its classic look. Essentially, white gold looks very much like platinum, with the same silver-hued shine. This makes it an excellent and less expensive alternative to platinum.
White Gold Value and Price
This 14K white gold setting is almost $500 less expensive than the platinum version. See it here.
In terms of its value and price, white gold is generally priced the same as yellow gold. While the other metals in the alloy as well as the rhodium plating can increase its value, it tends to offer the same in value as yellow gold.
White gold is the perfect substitute for platinum as it comes with platinum’s cool whitish color without the steeper price tag. On average, a white gold wedding band would be a few hundred dollars less expensive than platinum.
So how affordable is white gold?
There are much cheaper options out there, like titanium or cobalt, but then again – they are not gold.
It should also be mentioned that some portion of white gold’s overall price comes after the initial purchase.
Like most other jewelry metals that have been plated, white gold will need to be re-plated every once in a while, depending on how you take care of it and maintain it. For more active and careless wearers, white gold jewelry may require rhodium plating as frequently as once every year. With the right care, however, this process can be reduced to just once every several years.
Another thing to note is that some jewelers, like James Allen, expect the frequent rhodium plating that white gold requires and will sometimes offer future rhodium plating for free. This is something that is best to check with your jeweler of choice before you make a purchase – ask them how much a rhodium plating costs, whether they offer free future plating and maintenance with the purchase, and decide which the more economically viable choice is for you.
White Gold for Wedding and Engagement Rings
White gold is one of the most popular options for bridal rings. But opinions can vary on whether it’s the best choice:
Maya: White gold rings are stunners and looks amazing, but the problem is I just see so many of them.
Sima: I prefer white gold because it pops up on my skin much more. Other metal colors tend to blend in with my skin tone too much.
Batiste: I’ve got a white gold engagement ring but I think I’ll get a rose gold wedding ring because the two will contrast nicely. A single metal color can get boring, I think!
White gold is typically chosen for its modern, sophisticated look. Being more durable than yellow gold thanks to the other metals in its alloy and the rhodium plating, white gold is more wearable for wedding and engagement rings than its yellow counterpart.
However, because these rings tend to get exposed a lot to daily wear and tear, note that the chances of the ring getting scratched and damaged are higher.
Will White Gold Look Good On Me?
While white gold is a highly versatile metal that tends to look good on all skin tones, it especially flatters those with cool undertones. People with cool skin tones tend to pair well with white metals, including silver, platinum, palladium and so on. This is just a guideline and a well-crafted white gold ring tends to look beautiful against any skin color.
If you aren’t sure, you can make use of With Clarity’s Home Preview service which allows you to design up to two engagement rings and have replicas mailed to you completely free of charge. You can then try out the replica rings for a few days to see how they look against your finger.
Why not have rings with two metal colors sent for you to try, and see which of the two you prefer? Note that you won’t be getting a real white gold ring but only a replica that looks and feels like the real thing. If you don’t like the look, simply return the rings with no commitment to buy. Read more about this service here.
White Gold vs. Platinum
We have already outlined the main difference between these two jewelry materials – their durability. There are other differences as well, however, chief among which is that platinum is a rarer, more expensive and a naturally occurring metal, while white gold is an alloy.
Platinum is harder than white gold and ranks higher on the Mohs scale. It’s also known as being scratch proof. That’s a little oversimplified but it’s essentially true – unlike gold which can scratch easily, platinum technically doesn’t scratch (i.e. lose particles) when it gets in contact with a hard surface. Instead, platinum tends to develop tiny bumps and ridges when pressed, which over time becomes a patina. This can cause platinum to lose its luster and require polishing.
This unscratchable quality of platinum is very valuable, especially for engagement and wedding rings, as they tend to be worn a lot and come in contact with hard surfaces quite often. Platinum also doesn’t have or need a rhodium plating that has to be reapplied periodically.
Still, the much more affordable price of white gold, as well as its very good durability, make it a good alternative to platinum.
White Gold vs. Silver
Silver wedding rings by Alexis Treasurey. See this here.
White gold is the more popular of the two as it is more durable than most silver alloys and requires less care.
Unlike gold, silver tends to develop a darker patina over time if it’s not frequently maintained. Some people actually like that patina and let it be as they find it adds “character” to silver jewelry. If you want a clear and shining piece of jewelry, however, silver will need significantly more care than white gold.
On the flip side, silver is much cheaper than white gold, regardless of what different metals are added to its alloy.
What Maintenance Does White Gold Require?
The main care white gold requires is similar to that of yellow gold – while white gold is harder and more durable it still needs to be protected from scratches, from heavy contact with harder objects, as well as from more abrasive substances such as household chemicals and cleaning detergents.
The additional care required by white gold is, of course, the regular rhodium plating that need to be done once the previous rhodium layer gets worn out.
When you need to wash your white gold jewelry, it’s best to use a mild soap in warm water, as well as a soft piece of cloth or a soft-bristle brush. Anything harder than that can scratch the rhodium plating and any stronger soaps or detergents can wear it out.
In terms of storing, white gold should be carefully stored in soft cloth pouches or in linen boxes. Even when you’re just taking your white gold ring off for a while it’s still smart to keep it in a safe, soft cloth pouch.
White gold is a top metal for wedding bands and can be found at any jewelry store. Of course, it’s always best to work only with reputable and trustworthy vendors as that guarantees quality and fair prices.
Once that is guaranteed, however, the rest is a matter of personal choice.
And while it’s more expensive than many of its alternatives, it’s still cheaper than metals such as platinum. And while its rhodium plating does need the occasional rebuffing, it’s overall easy to maintain and looks stunning and stylish.