Gold? Platinum? White Gold? Sterling Silver? With the variety of metals available in fine jewelry, it can be hard to decide which metal to choose. To help you decide on your next jewelry piece, we will be taking a closer look at sterling silver and white gold – two of the metals that look the most similar to the naked eye.
For jewelry making, pure silver is too soft to be used so copper and other metals are mixed in to create sterling silver. However, you don’t need to worry about the value of your jewelry – all sterling silver must contain at least 92.5% of pure silver. Look out for the 925 stamp on sterling silver jewelry.
Similar to sterling silver, pure gold is far too soft to be used on its own. To enhance its durability and create the white-silver color, pure gold is mixed with palladium and silver, or nickel, copper, and zinc. Unlike sterling silver, gold purity of white gold can vary depending on how much pure gold is mixed in. The jewelry will have one of the following karat measures:
|Karat Measure||Gold Purity|
|24 karat||100% pure gold|
Durability & Care
Despite being an alloy, sterling silver is still quite soft and can be scratched or misshapen easily. In addition, silver can tarnish so it requires special care when cleaning. Sterling silver should be polished and cleaned regularly using a mild soap and warm water and dried thoroughly after. The jewelry should be stored in tarnish-preventative bags and stored in a cool, dry place to minimize any risk of tarnishing.
White gold is coated with platinum or rhodium, to improve durability. Once the coating wears away, the jewelry can be coated again to maintain whiteness and shine. Higher karat white gold jewelry is softer than those with a lower karat rating. Overall, white gold tends to be more durable than sterling silver and can hold more intricate details. White gold is generally more damage-resistant and can be professionally cleaned by a jeweler.
Sterling silver tends to be brighter than white gold, with a very shiny and lustrous finish. The shine of white gold depends on the karat rating of white gold and whether the piece has been plated. White gold often has a more matte and sophisticated finish, which may better compliment precious gemstones or diamonds set inside than sterling silver. However, on its own, sterling silver’s shine will be sure to catch your eye.
As the cost of silver in the market is much lower than the cost of gold, sterling silver is a more affordable and budget-friendly option when compared to white gold. White gold can be considered an investment, due to the high cost but higher quality. In addition, due to the gold mixed in, white gold will retain a higher value.
At the end of the day, whether you choose white gold or silver depends on many factors, such as your budget, personal style and design of the jewelry. Knowing the differences between these two metals will help you decide which option is better suited for your needs.