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White Gold Vs Silver: Their Differences And Similarities

Angelica Frey | February 28, 2023

Angelica Frey | February 28, 2023

Both white gold and silver are bright, cool-toned metals with a white cast. However, they’re two entirely different chemical elements and sport quite a few differences in terms of pricing, texture, chemical and physical properties. This guide will outline the main differences and similarities between the two metals. Both white gold and silver have wide applications in fine and fashion jewelry, and the choice ultimately comes down to personal preference. Book an appointment with one of our experts to see whether white gold or silver jewelry featuring VRAI created diamonds suits your tastes best.

What Is White Gold?

White gold is an alloy made of gold and a small percentage of other metals, usually nickel or palladium, copper and zinc. Pure gold (100% gold) is notated as 24K, and white gold usually comes in 14K (also known as 585) and in 18K (also known as 750) alloys.

White gold started being widely used during World War I: the US Government had declared platinum as a strategic materia needed for the war effort, so it could not be used for civilian application. This jump-started the trend of white gold engagement rings. One should note that the bright, cool-toned sheen of white gold is achieved through rhodium plating. Unplated white gold has a more neutral-toned, almost cream-colored gleam.

In addition, while white gold is hypoallergenic, those with nickel sensitivities should avoid white gold jewelry that contains nickel.

What Is Sterling Silver?

Sterling silver is an alloy of 925 parts silver and 75 parts copper. Visually, white gold and silver are quite similar, but silver is softer than gold and prone to scratches. In addition, it tarnishes over time, which can be easily taken care of with silver polish. One advantage of silver over gold is its more accessible price point, costing $0.66 per gram (as opposed to $58.76 for gold at the time of publication). Sterling silver is also used as the base of gold vermeil, which is a substitute of solid gold.

White Gold Vs Silver Vs Platinum And Palladium: What’s The Difference?

White gold and silver are not the only two metals with a white cast. In fact, platinum and palladium are two durable white metals that are also widely used in engagement rings. Platinum was once deemed “the only metal fit for a king” by Louis XVI, and it’s denser, stronger, and less brittle than white gold. Due to its density, it is recommended for men’s jewelry. Palladium is strong, light, hypoallergenic and it does not tarnish and appears to be more luminous than platinum and white gold. Both palladium and platinum will develop a patina over time, which will give the jewelry a matte look.

How Can You Tell The Difference Between White Gold And Silver?

While both white gold and silver have a white cast, there are subtle differences between white gold and silver. The gleam of silver has a grayish undertone, while white gold remains pure white or has a creamy cast. In fact, white gold is an alloy of gold, which is naturally yellowish, with other metals, and owes its white cast to rhodium plating. When plated, white gold has a mirror-like appearance, while silver is more lustrous and gleaming. White gold retains its sheen but must be replated with rhodium every two to three years. Silver, by contrast, tarnishes quite easily, but the appropriate cleaning materials and cloth can restore it to its original luster.

While white gold and silver can appear quite similar to the untrained eye, the differences become more and more apparent once you learn what to look for. In the first place, white gold has a pure white, if not creamy cast, due to gold’s naturally yellow undertones; this slightly yellow tint is usually concealed by having white gold plated in rhodium, a silver-colored metal in the platinum family. Silver, by contrast, has a slightly grayish gleam. Over time, white gold will lose its white cast, and will need to be replated with rhodium to have its brightness restored. Silver will tarnish, and will need to be hand polished. Silver also scratches more easily than white gold, and the apparent loss of luster is due to the marks coming from daily wear.

Does White Gold Cost More Than Silver?

White gold costs dramatically more than silver: at the time of publication , silver is priced at $0.66 per gram, whereas 14k gold costs around $35 per gram, 18k gold costs $45 and 24k gold costs $58.76 per gram. Silver costs 1.94% the price of 14k gold, and 1.46 the price of 18k gold.

Do Platinum And Silver Look Similar?

Compared to silver and its slightly grayish hue, platinum has a shinier and brighter appearance. Plus, due to the fact that it’s naturally white and cool-toned, platinum retains its original color and won’t need re-plating. Still, it develops a patina over time, which a jeweler can easily take care of.

Is White Gold Better Than Sterling Silver?

White gold and sterling silver each have different advantages. Both, for instance, are hypoallergenic, unless white gold is alloyed with nickel. Sterling silver is much more affordable than white gold, and, for many, it’s a great option for everyday jewelry. However, silver is prone to tarnishing and is much more susceptible to tarnishing and bending than white gold. We recommend white gold for wedding and engagement rings, but earrings and necklaces cast in silver work perfectly well. You can easily take care of the tarnishing by polishing and cleaning your silver jewelry with the proper tools.

18k White Gold Vs 14K White Gold

When it comes to comparing 14k vs 18k gold, it’s important to distinguish between chemical composition and actual appearance.14K and 18K refer to the percentage of gold contained in gold alloys. Karat is the unit used to measure the purity of gold. 24 karat is the highest purity of gold, and it should not be confused with the term carat with a “C”, which indicates a gem’s weight. In the case of 14k, it’s 58.5% gold, in the case of 18K, it’s 75%. When 14k and 18k white gold has not been plated in rhodium yet, the 18K will appear more yellow and slightly brighter than its 14k counterpart. However, once it has been plated in rhodium, both 18k and 14k gold will appear identical. VRAI offers 18k gold for engagement and wedding rings, but 14k for everyday jewelry.

18k White Gold Vs Silver

18k white Gold is not subject to oxidation and does not break easily. By contrast, silver is more delicate and is prone to scratching and tarnishing. With that being said, silver returns to its luster once properly polished, which can be done at home, while 18k white gold has an obvious yellow undertone once the rhodium plating wears off. You have to take your 18k white gold jewelry to a jeweler every 2-3 years in order to restore its original appearance: VRAI offers a lifetime care package, which will take care of re-dipping your white gold engagement rings and wedding bands.

14k White Gold Vs Silver

14k white gold contains a lower percentage of gold compared to its 14k counterpart, so while it’s still not prone to oxidation, it does not retain its brightness the way 18k white gold does. Silver, by contrast, tarnishes quite easily, but it’s easily remedied with regular polishing and maintenance. Just like the 18k gold, white gold has to be re-plated in rhodium every 2-3 years in order for it to return to its bright, white, and reflective appearance.

Can You Wear Silver And White Gold Together?

You can absolutely wear silver and white gold together. Some believe that the tarnishing of silver can affect the appearance of their white gold jewelry when worn together, but gold is a non-reactive metal, so it won’t be tarnished by proximity to silver. However, the tarnish of a piece of silver can physically transfer to gold jewelry by physical contact, and the two metals, which are of different hardness levels, can get scratched by being worn together. Style wise, white gold has a pure white hue, while silver has a slightly grayish tint, but together they can still create harmonious combinations.

Book An Appointment With An Expert

If you want to see whether silver, 14k white gold, or 18k white gold are the right choice for you, an expert can guide you in your choices in terms of style, budgets, and other personal preferences. Book an appointment to find the style that best suits your wants and needs.


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