We get this question a lot: which one is better – platinum vs gold?
Especially with our custom clients it can be hard to decide! Truthfully, there's no one-and-done answer. It all depends on what's important to you – color, purity, finish, price, durability, and the design of your ring or long-term care needs or wants.
Keep reading for our help-you-decide guide on platinum vs. white gold - the Gem Breakfast Chefs are here to walk you through it with tips on picking the right precious metal for you!
Can you tell the difference between Platinum vs White Gold?
The most obvious distinction between platinum and white gold: platinum comes only in a silvery finish, where as gold comes in yellow, rose, white, and our Gem Breakfast exclusive: Peach Gold. Gold colors also vary slightly between different karat weights like 14k vs. 18k, 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 is Platinum made of?
Pure 24 karat gold is incredibly soft and generally not used in fine jewelry for that reason - it's too soft to hold the stones securely in place.
Usually, gold is alloyed with harder metals like copper, nickel, silver, zinc, and palladium to bolster its strength and durability for jewelry or engagement rings. The gold's color is determined by which alloys are used in the casting of the ring or jewelry.
18 karat gold (the most popular choice for fine jewelry and engagement rings) 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. Gem Breakfast also offers Palladium White Gold jewelry and engagement rings - jewelry that is made with Palladium and then plated with Rhodium.
Palladium is slightly less expensive than platinum but is also a very pure and white-looking metal so it can be a great alternative.
Gem Breakfast White Gold Moi Et Toi Sapphire Ring
Gem Breakfast White Gold Pear Cut Diamond Engagement Ring
There are two factors in precious metal durability:
Hardness: how it resists scratches, dents, and surface wear.
Malleability: how easy it can be bent and shaped. 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 than gold jewelry.
A good example we always use: if you look at many vintage engagement rings, they're made in platinum and typically have lots of lovely engraving work. That detailed engraving work is easier to do in platinum vs gold.
Gold is also more malleable than platinum, meaning it's easier for jewelers to bend and work with. So, it costs less for the jeweler to set stones in gold because it takes less time. Part of the small premium you pay for platinum includes the added time to set the stones in platinum rings, and sometimes the different tools needed for working in platinum.
White gold is less prone to bending, making it slightly more secure for setting gemstones - that's why it's generally our preferred precious metal to work with.
If your setting has lots of small diamonds or delicate pave work, we recommend setting it in White Gold vs. Platinum because white gold is better for securing those small stones.
A platinum setting is more appropriate for a ring with one large center diamond or a design with lots of detailed engraving work. As we mentioned above, engraving looks stunning in a platinum engagement ring.
Can't decide? Mix and match! It's very common to have a yellow gold shank (band) on a ring and a platinum head (top part that holds the diamond) - essentially a two-tone setting! Whether you love that look, or just can't choose, that's a fun way to go.
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 or engagement ring.
Does Platinum Last Longer Than Gold?
Both platinum and gold are considered the standards for engagement rings and are durable enough for everyday wear and setting fine gemstones. So, don't worry too much which will last longer as either will last incredibly long!
That said, scientifically speaking, platinum is more durable than gold. Its high density as a precious metal and chemical composition make it less likely to break than gold, so it will last longer! Cue all those vintage platinum engagement rings we were talking about.
Is Platinum Hypoallergenic or not?
Platinum is considered a hypoallergenic metal. Because it contains minimal added alloys, the allergy potential goes way down. If you're worried about purity or sensitive to metals, a platinum ring is a great option for you.
You can also consider palladium white gold if you have a copper, zinc, or nickel allergy, palladium - it's another great hypoallergenic option that we work with often.
Yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, 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 as much of concern with white gold, which is usually coated with rhodium to act as a barrier and eliminate most skin sensitivities. However, some people who are highly sensitive may still experience allergies with white gold.
If you have a known allergy to a precious metal please let your Gem Breakfast Chef know and we can check the combination of our alloy to make sure it does not contain something you're allergic too.
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.
What is rhodium & what is Rhodium plating?
Rhodium is a white precious metal in the platinum family that gives white gold that bright shiny color. It's extremely common and most white gold rings you see on the market are rhodium plated.
Some people do prefer the look of white gold au natural, and if that's you, you can always request that your white gold ring is left unplated.
Rhodium plating does wear down with time and must be replated to keep the ring looking bright shiny white (or like new!).
Some people have their rings replated every year, some people opt for every few years.
The need to replate your ring is determined by personal preference and how much wear and tear your ring gets. Some people like the soft patina of a ring when the plating wears off and some people prefer the sharp blingly white of a freshly rhodium plated ring.
If you're very active or have a job where your ring would be in contact with something on a daily, you can expect your rhodium plating finish to wear off quickly. This may be a great reason for you to opt for a platinum ring instead of a gold ring!
Why is platinum more expensive?
Although they look alike, platinum is substantially more expensive than white gold and that can be a factor when deciding between platinum vs. white gold.
There's two reasons it's more expensive:
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 of tools and more time, so jewelers have to charge extra to work with this metal and to set stones in platinum.
Expect to pay about 20-30% more for the same setting in platinum vs white gold or a gold ring.
Gem Breakfast Salt and Pepper White Gold Diamond Enagement Ring
Platinum is heavier/denser per gram than gold. So, if you prefer a ring that feels light as air on your finger, yellow gold, rose gold, peach gold or palladium are the better options for you.
Alternatively, some people like the heavy feel of platinum against their finger and opt for platinum over white gold for this reason.
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 satiny finish. Totally personal preference which one you prefer! The bright white finish on white gold is due to the rhodium plating on a white gold ring.
Side note, you can always add a matte finish or sandblast finish to white gold - a cool way to add something unique to your ring!
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. This happens more to platinum because it's a softer alloy than white gold. Some people like the worn patina that platinum gains over time so again, 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.
Rhodium plating is not an expensive service (generally less than $100), but it's something to keep in mind. If you'd rather skip the regular replating, opt for platinum which maintains its color without any plating and requires no maintenance vs. a white gold ring.
Yellow gold, rose gold, and Peach Gold require only polishing and cleaning for their regular care rituals – no rhodium 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, the design of your ring, and your long-term care plan. If you're still unsure which option is best for you, feel free to ask your Gem Breakfast Chef what they think is right for you!
To learn more about choosing between precious metals, read our Ultimate Guide to Gold & Precious Metals.