What Are the Differences Between Platinum and White Gold?
by Kate Reid
June 14, 2019 / Learn About Metals
Are all alloys equal? How do jewellers choose which metal to use?
“Platinum or white gold? Which metal would be best?” These would have to be among the most common questions asked by people choosing an engagement ring. They’ve found the perfect stone, the design is exactly what they’ve been dreaming of but they’re unsure which metal is “The Best”. An engagement ring is a symbol of our love and commitment- right? So, of course, you want the best option. In this post, we are going to look into the pros and cons of each so you can understand which would be ideal for you and why we choose the metals we do.
Firstly, let’s look at each metal and what goes into it.
Most precious metals we use for jewellery are alloyed with other metals. This is to make the metal a little harder and more durable for daily wear. As pure metals are very soft by themselves.
Platinum is a dense, grey, malleable metal when it comes from out of the ground. Almost 80% of platinum today is coming out of South Africa followed by Russia. Its name comes from the Spanish word “platino”, meaning “little silver”. The first written mention of platinum in European writings was by Italian scholar Julius Caesar Scaliger in 1557 and the fashioning of platinum into fine jewellery began in around 1900.
You may not know; Platinum is more than ten times rarer than gold and also comes in different qualities just like gold does. Not all platinum is the same, you do see on the market platinum pt600 or pt800. We choose to use pt950 it is alloyed with a small amount of other metals for its brilliance and strength. Platinum is a very stable, non-toxic metal. If you have had a skin reaction with other metals before, platinum may be right for you.
Gold is a lush beautiful metal that has been used and traded for centuries. The ancient Egyptians’ have the first record of gold dating back as early as 2600bc. Where King Tushratta of Mitanni claiming it was “more plentiful than dirt”. Some of the first pieces of jewellery were made from fine gold. Today there are many gold deposits around the world with the largest amount at the moment is coming out of China, Australia, Russia. Today, India is the world’s largest consumer of gold.
Yellow in colour, fine gold is relatively soft, it is alloyed with other metals and in various quantities to change the colour and the carat (ct) of gold. You may be wondering what exactly the ‘ct’ or ‘K’, refers to. The ‘carat’ of a metal refers to the percentage of pure gold in the alloy, with 18ct being 75% pure gold. For an engagement ring, 18ct (750) gold would be advised again for its strength and longevity. Palladium and other white metals are added to the fine gold to make white gold. With only a small amount of alloys, the colour of the 18ct white gold is slightly warmer than other white metals. For this reason, white gold is plated with a very thin layer of rhodium to give it a hard, beautiful mirror finish.
Platinum, being a more malleable metal than gold means it does wear slightly differently. You will generally find platinum will spread and move slightly. For example, if you had a look at your grandmother’s engagement ring, you might see how the claws are worn over the stone quite flat like foil. With gold, however, the metal tends to wear away. For designs with engraving or sharper edges, white gold would be our recommendation as it will hold a harder edge and keep the engraving looking sharper for longer. That being said, how someone wears their jewellery will determine how well it will last.
Just like your car, whichever metal you choose, both will still need to have a regular service and check-up. Overtime, Platinum will take on a greyish patina, this can be polished back again to give that high mirror finish. White gold tends to fade and over time the rhodium plating will wear to reveal the natural colour of the metal. Don’t worry, you won’t suddenly notice one day your ring looking different colour it’s a gradual process. Just like platinum, your ring can be repolished and a new layer of rhodium can be added.
At Larsen Jewellery, one of our friendly on-site jewellers will always be happy to guide you through any questions you have. We are here to help you understand the best choice for your ring.