We get this question a lot: which one is better – white gold or platinum? And truthfully, there’s no one-and-done answer! It all depends on what’s important to you – color, purity, finish, price, durability, or long-term care. Keep reading for our help-you-decide guide!
The most obvious distinction between platinum and white gold: platinum comes only in a silvery finish, whereas gold comes in yellow, rose, white, and our Gem Breakfast exclusive: Peach Gold ®. Gold colors also vary between different karat weights so the options are aplenty.
What about white gold specifically vs platinum? Is there a difference in color? It's almost impossible to see but platinum looks a little bit whiter than white gold.
Can you tell which of these Gem Breakfast Bespoke custom rings is platinum or white gold?The left ring is Platinum and the right ring is white gold!
Composition - What Platinum is made of
Pure 24 karat gold is incredibly soft and is alloyed with harder metals like copper, nickel, silver, zinc, and palladium to bolster its strength and durability for jewelry. The gold's color is determined by which alloys are used.
- 18 karat gold (the most popular choice for fine jewelry) is made from 75% gold and 25% other alloys.
- 14 karat gold is made of 58.3% gold and 41.7% other alloys.
Platinum on the other hand, is naturally very dense, meaning fine jewelry can be made from 95% platinum and only 5% other silver-toned alloys like iridium, ruthenium, or cobalt . Palladium is another option if purity is important to you - jewelry pieces can be made from 95% palladium and 5% other alloys.
There are two factors in precious metal durability:
- Hardness: how it resists scratches, dents, and surface wear.
- Malleability: how easy it is to bend and shape. More malleable = less brittle/less prone to breaking but more prone to bending.
Because gold is mixed with other alloys, it's harder than platinum, meaning platinum jewelry becomes scratched more easily. Gold is also more malleable than platinum, meaning it's easier for jewelers to bend and work with. It also means means that platinum is less prone to bending, making it slightly more secure for setting gemstones.
The moral of the story: both metals are very durable in different ways. Either is a safe, secure, and long-lasting choice for a fine jewelry setting.
Hypoallergenic or not?
Platinum is considered a hypoallergenic metal. Because it contains minimal added alloys, the allergy potential goes way down. You can also consider palladium white gold if you have a copper, zinc, or nickel allergy, palladium - it's another great hypoallergenic option.
Yellow, rose, white, and Peach Gold ® are all alloyed with metals like copper, nickel, and zinc which can cause skin sensitivity in people with metal allergies. This isn’t a concern with white gold, which is usually coated with rhodium to act as a barrier and eliminate most skin sensitivities.
What is rhodium? It’s a white precious metal in the platinum family that gives white gold that bright shiny color. Rhoduim plating wears down with time and must be replated to keep the ring looking bright shiny white. Some people have their rings replated every year, some times every few years. The need to do so determined by personal preference and how much wear and tear the wearers ring gets.
Although they look alike, platinum is substantially more expensive than white gold. There’s two reasons for that:
- Platinum is denser/purer than white gold with less added alloys. To make an 18 karat white gold ring, only 75% of that setting is gold, whereas to make the same setting in platinum, you're using 95% platinum - that means more grams of precious metal for the same setting.
- Platinum is more difficult to work with and requires a different set tools and more time so jewelers have to charge more to work with this metal.
Expect to pay about 20-30% more for the same setting in platinum vs white gold.
Platinum is heavier/denser per gram than gold. So, if you prefer a ring that feels light as air on your finger, gold or palladium are the better options for you.
Platinum is about 30 times rarer than gold, so if you love the idea of rarity, platinum may be your swan song.
White gold is slightly shinier than platinum which can have a more satin finish. Totally personal preference which one you prefer!
Custom Rings by Gem Breakfast Bespoke. Left ring is White Gold, right ring is Platinum.
Love what you see? Reach out to commission something similar.
Care & Cleaning
Both platinum and gold should be polished and cleaned regularly. Platinum can start to look matte and scratched over time and needs polishing to maintain its finish. Some people like the worn patina that platinum gains over time so this is personal preference.
Gold can become scratched over time and can need regular polishing to keep its gleaming, glistening finish. White gold should be replated in rhodium every few years to maintain its lustrous bright white color and finish. It’s not an expensive service, but something to keep in mind. If you'd rather skip the regular replating, opt for platinum which maintains its color without any plating.
Yellow gold, rose gold, and Peach Gold ® require only polishing and cleaning for their regular care rituals – no plating needed.
As you can see, both gold and platinum have their ups and downs and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. It all depends on what’s important to you! To learn more about choosing between precious metals, read our Ultimate Guide to Gold & Precious Metals.