White metals such as silver and white gold are at the top of the mind for jewelry buyers. According to a National Jeweler survey, 35% of people preferred white gold to other metals, while 17% preferred silver.
While white gold and silver may look the same, they have many differences. These include their cost, durability, maintenance, and subtleties in color. This article will compare white gold and silver and explore their unique characteristics. You’ll soon be able to choose the suitable metal for your jewelry.
What is White Gold?
White gold is made up of pure gold mixed with other metals (called alloys), which helps to strengthen the product and give it a white appearance. To determine the purity and authenticity of white gold, jewelers use the same method as yellow gold: they measure the karats.
White gold jewelry can be 14 or 18 Karats. Divide the karats in white gold by 24 to determine its percentage. This means that 14-karat white is 58.3% pure and 41.7% other metals, while 18-karat is 75% pure and 25% other metals.
White gold often refers to silver, palladium, and nickel as the “other metals.” A piece of white-gold jewelry will have different characteristics depending on the alloy used and the amount of each alloy present. Because it has a higher percentage of pure gold, 18 karat is more in demand. However, 14 karat is more popular as it’s more affordable and lasts longer.
What is Silver Composed of?
Silver is a precious metal used in jewelry, tableware, electrical contacts, and batteries. Silver is a soft metal by itself. However, jewelers mix it with an alloy (typically copper) to give silver more strength. Sometimes, they add nickel to the mix in place of copper.
A “sterling-silver” label may be found on jewelry that you purchase. You might also see the number “925”, which indicates sterling silver. Sterling silver typically contains 92.5% pure Silver and 7.5% alloy metals (hence, the “925” label).
Sterling silver is an excellent choice for sensitive skin because it contains both copper and silver that are hypoallergenic. However, sterling silver jewelry can oxidize over time due to its copper content. Therefore, you’ll need to keep your sterling silver jewelry clean to avoid discoloration.
White Gold Vs. Silver: Head to Head Comparison
We have now covered the distinctive characteristics of white gold, silver, and now we will discuss their similarities and differences.
Care and Maintenance
Silver and white gold don’t retain their shine forever and require different maintenance methods.
Rhodium plating is often used for white gold. Rhodium, a platinum metal, helps protect the jewelry from scratches. Rhodium can become yellow over time and go from shining white to yellow. You will need to bring your white gold jewelry to a jeweler every few years to reapply the rhodium plating. White gold is the best choice for everyday wear because it retains its shine for longer.
Silver jewelry needs to be cleaned and polished more often to prevent tarnishing. While cleaning silver requires more time, it is possible to do it at home with corn starch, lemon juice, and vinegar.
Color and Luster
White gold is more radiant and shiny than silver. A mixture of pure yellow gold and alloy metals like nickel gives it its white color. You will need to have the rhodium coating on the white gold’s surface replaced by a jeweler when it starts to wear off.
Silver is grayish-white in color. It will appear shiny when purchased from a jewelry shop. However, it will eventually tarnish due to hydrogen sulfide in the atmosphere. Additionally, contact with high-sulfide items like mustard, hard-boiled egg, rubber bands, and other everyday objects can accelerate tarnishing.
One of the most significant differences between silver and white gold is the cost. Silver is more affordable than white gold due to the greater availability of silver than gold.
Silver is more expensive than white gold, but white gold is an excellent option for those who want a cheaper alternative to platinum. Although it has the same appearance as platinum, white gold is more affordable and lasts longer. In addition, even though white gold is made up of alloys, its yellow gold retains its value.
White gold and silver are both soft metals. They are similar because jewelers must mix them with other metals to make them durable enough for daily wear. The advantage of white gold and silver being soft is that both are highly malleable. As a result, jewelers can design them into various shapes.
Although silver and white may seem to have the same hue at first, silver is a grayish-white color. White gold, however, has a distinct white shade. While both metals are hypoallergenic, other metal alloys can trigger allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin. Nickel is the most frequent metal allergen, and it is more often found in white gold than silver.
Because white gold has a higher content of strong metal alloys, it can be more resilient than silver. However, the purity of the gold will determine its durability. This can be determined by how many karats it contains.
Silver is more susceptible to scratches and can lose shape from everyday wear. As a result, many people prefer white gold wedding bands to silver. In addition, silver is less durable than white gold but can still be used for less frequently worn jewelry.
Sensitivity to Skin
Itchy skin can be caused by nickel, a common allergen found in jewelry. Therefore, people with sensitive skin should ensure that the jewelry they consider purchasing doesn’t contain nickel.
Nickel is a common element in white gold. However, it is unlikely that you will have to worry until the rhodium plating begins to wear down. This is when the nickel will be exposed to your skin. Nickel can sometimes be found in lower-quality sterling silver. However, copper is the most popular alloy for sterling silver, which is hypoallergenic.
White Gold Vs. Silver: Which is the Right One?
You want to have options when shopping for jewelry. Before you choose, it is essential to know the pros and cons of white gold and silver.
If you are looking for a sturdy, long-lasting piece of jewelry with a high shine and low maintenance, white gold is the best choice. On the other hand, if you are looking for something less expensive, prefer grayish-white colors, or like the idea of caring for your jewelry at the house, silver is a good choice.