Platinum or white gold? Both sound great to me!

By Melissa Locker
January 19, 2020

Dolly Parton once eloquently said, “It’s hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world.” Similarly, it’s hard to be platinum in a white gold world. Or is it hard to be white gold in a platinum world? What is the difference between those two anyway? How will you know what to buy if you’re picking out a special present for someone—or what to hope for if someone is choosing for you?

To get right down to it: Platinum is more expensive than white gold. That’s why recording artists “go platinum” instead of “go white gold’. Platinum is a naturally occurring metal that must be mined out of the earth from deep underground. It has a naturally silvery white hue and its unique natural color has made it a popular choice for jewelry since the ancient Egyptians. Platinum is also rarer than gold—about 30 times rarer, specifically— and it is mined less frequently, too. “If all the platinum ever mined were melted and poured into an Olympic-sized pool, the platinum would barely reach your ankles. Gold, however, would fill three pools,” Jenny Luker, president of Platinum Guild International USA (PGI), told How Stuff Works. It’s platinum’s rarity that makes it generally more valuable than white gold, hence the higher price tag. Platinum is also more durable than gold, particularly when it is blended with a small percentage of Iridium or ruthenium to toughen it up, which is one of the reasons it is a popular choice for engagement rings. Platinum is also usually heavier than white gold. Platinum is not measured on a karat scale, but comes in different grades. For example, Iridplat, 900 Plat, or 900 PT refer to an alloy mixture that contains 90% platinum and 10% iridium, another platinum group. When buying a ring, the higher the percentage of platinum in the alloy, the higher the cost will be, according to

As for white gold, it earns its whitish hue from mixing yellow gold with a more silvery metal like silver, nickel, manganese, or palladium. Because white gold is by definition a mixture of two metals, according to Huffington Post, “there is really no such thing as ‘pure white gold’,” so if someone is trying to sell you jewelry that is “pure white gold”, be wary. The value of the white gold depends in part on how much yellow gold is used in the mix, information that is usually available from a jeweler. Another thing to note when purchasing white gold jewelry is that it is often coated in rhodium to make it whiter and shinier. According to Thought Co., “Without the rhodium coating, white gold might be gray, dull brown, or even pale pink”, so the rhodium coating is important. That said, the rhodium’s silvery white finish can wear off over time and the yellow of the gold can peek through. Don’t worry, it’s easy to fix with a trip to the jeweler who can re-coat the white gold in rhodium and return it to its brilliant lustery white. As Huffington Post notes, “While this may seem like a hassle, in truth the process is relatively inexpensive, and many jewelers actually offer this service for free.” Remember to keep in mind that gold is measured on a karat scale, and refers to the percentage of gold in an alloy. For example: 24K gold is 100% pure; 18K contains 75% gold and 25% alloyed metals; 14K gold is 58% gold and 42% alloyed metals. When it comes to engagement rings, 14K gold is the most popular choice because it is most resilient and can handle active lifestyles.

Platinum can change its look over time and wear, too. Particularly well-loved pieces of platinum jewelry can develop a change in texture that is known as a patina, but How Stuff Works notes that “many platinum aficionados actually desire this change in appearance.”

When it comes to picking a present, either for yourself or someone else, truthfully either platinum or white gold would be lovely.