A brilliant symbol of your commitment, an elegant statement piece, or a lasting memento—engagement rings and wedding bands can be all three. So, when it comes to choosing these meaningful jewelry pieces, there are a few serious decisions to be made.
If you’re opting for a white metal aesthetic, there are two popular choices: white gold or platinum. But which metal is right for you? Should you find it hard to choose, you’ve come to the right place. We spoke to expert jewelers Nicolas Tranchant, Loryn Elizabeth, and Suzanne Sachs to get the inside scoop on the white gold vs. platinum debacle. Here’s what you should know.
Meet the Expert
Platinum vs. White Gold
White gold has been a hot trend for decades, but do you know how it’s made? Contrary to popular belief, white gold is not a pure white metal, but a combination of metals. “Gold is yellow. To make it white, jewelers have to mix gold with other metals: alloys. Cheap white gold looks grey, sometimes even yellow and it receives a rhodium plating to be bright white,” Tranchant tells Brides.
“White gold with palladium is mixed with a fair portion of palladium alloy that gives it a white shiny luster naturally. As palladium is also a precious metal, this is more expensive than white gold, but it is very durable and does not require rhodium plating later on.”
Platinum, on the other hand, is naturally white in color and much rarer than white gold. It is not mixed with any alloys and maintains its color. “Platinum will never turn and keeps its white, metallic color,” Elizabeth explains.
Platinum is hypoallergenic and is recommended if you have any metal allergies or sensitivities.
Elizabeth shares, “Platinum is roughly 40-50% more expensive than white gold because more platinum is required to make a piece due to its density. It is rarer than gold, which also contributes to its high price tag."
She continues, “If you compared both metals by their price per gram, you wouldn’t see much of a price difference, but because of the different densities and how much metal is needed comparatively, the prices are quite different. Since white gold is a mixture of durable metals, it is much lower in price and more affordable than platinum."
However, it’s not all about up-front costs. While white gold may be more affordable to buy at first, keep in mind that it needs to be replated every five to 10 years to keep its color. As Elizabeth puts it: “Platinum is more expensive initially, but less costly for maintenance.”
Since engagement rings and wedding bands are pieces you'll likely wear each day, ensuring that the metal is durable is a must. “Platinum is a purer metal and although heavier than gold, it is more bendable and because of its density, platinum is more susceptible to scratching over time,” admits Elizabeth. “Platinum will require routine polishing and cleaning to maintain its smooth appearance, so the upkeep tends to be higher.”
However, that’s not to say that white gold won’t do the job. She adds, “White gold is durable enough for everyday wear. The mixture of durable metals helps to strengthen and increase its durability. It becomes stronger when more durable metals are added to it”
While trends come and go, there’s one pure white metal that’s always at the top of the charts. “Platinum always tends to be more popular than white gold for engagement rings. It is a rarer metal and more durable,” Sachs reveals. “There is an undeniable elegance associated with a platinum engagement ring.”
There isn't much of a difference in style between platinum and white gold. However, jewelers usually prefer to work with platinum since it is a more malleable metal.
Ready to pick out a gorgeous ring for yourself or someone special? Before you head out to the stores or shop online, you need all the advice you can get. Let’s take a look at three expect-backed tips that will help you make the right decision.
Find the right jeweler.
“Work with an honest jeweler who can steer you in the right direction. It is a huge decision that is incredibly exciting. To anyone who is currently buying: be patient, stick to your budget, and have fun!” advises Elizabeth.
Choose platinum if you have sensitive skin.
Sensitive skin? You might want to choose platinum rather than white gold. “Some people have a nickel allergy, [and nickel] is part of the makeup of white gold,” says Sachs. “If considering white gold, make sure whoever is wearing the ring has no allergies to nickel.”
Consider matching metals.
While it’s not a hard and fast rule, here’s a simple way to ensure your ring and band combination always looks effortlessly coordinated. “I would advise keeping your engagement ring and wedding band the same metal if possible,” says Sachs. Naturally, the look you go for—mixing or matching—will depend on your own style. You do you!