When it comes to jewelry, many people often default to white gold pieces as this metal is durable, shiny, and easy to find. However, white gold isn't the only precious, silver-hued metal with favorable characteristics. Though jewelers also tend to use silver, platinum, and titanium to create breathtaking pieces, as it pertains to a sturdy and long-lasting metal for either your engagement ring or wedding band, palladium is one to consider.
"Palladium is 30 times rarer than gold [in general]. It may scratch less and is tarnish-resistant, whereas, for white gold, you still need to rhodium plate the metal to keep a cool blue-white. Since palladium does not contain nickel, it maintains its luster without a yellow aging cast," shares jeweler Mimi So.
But even with such positive attributes, you may still be curious as to whether or not you should opt for palladium over white gold for your wedding day jewelry. Therefore, to help you make an informed decision, we consulted with So to break down the differences between white gold and palladium, according to each metal's color, price, durability, and popularity. Read on to learn more.
Meet the Expert
Mimi So is a New York-based luxury jeweler and the founder of Mimi So New York. Her pieces have been worn by celebrities like Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Michelle Yeoh, and Keke Palmer, to name a few.
White Gold vs. Palladium
Before we dive into the distinct specifications between white gold and palladium, it's important to understand the core characteristics of each metal. To start, white gold is an alloy (a metal formed by two or more elements) of gold and at least one other white metal, like palladium, nickel, zinc, copper, or silver. Palladium, on the other hand, is a rare precious metal (meaning it does not contain nickel) with similar chemical characteristics as platinum. Thus, while both metals may look exactly the same at first glance, it's their chemical makeup that sets them apart.
As mentioned above, both palladium and white gold have a silver-white hue, making them almost identical when it comes to their physical appearance. However, upon closer inspection, a jeweler has the ability to see their differences. For instance, palladium doesn't contain nickel, which allows it to remain the same color over time. And though white gold isn't a metal that easily tarnishes, it still has the ability to change color depending on external factors like natural skin oils. As highlighted by So, 14-karat pure white gold "contains gold, nickel, copper, and zinc causing it to tarnish and have an age yellowish cast", which is why many white gold pieces are normally plated with rhodium.
While the price of metal sometimes fluctuates, So notes that "historically, palladium is more expensive than any of the other metals." Three times more expensive than 14-karat white gold, she adds.
Given that white gold is an alloy of other metals, white gold is far more accessible to source than palladium, causing its price to be more affordable. What's more, white gold is also easier to manipulate when creating rings and jewelry, minimizing the cost of labor and its overall price tag. "It's a truly skilled art that requires a lot of practice and time to develop and hone in the practice of working with palladium," So shares.
As you may have already figured out, palladium is stronger and more durable than white gold given its internal chemical makeup. "This is really where the metal alloys matter most," shares So. But, that's not to say that white gold isn't a viable option when searching for a ring that will stand the test of time. Both metals are able to be worn every day, but white gold may need a little more love and care to maintain its vibrant appearance.
Though white gold wedding bands and engagement rings are more accessible and affordable to purchase, palladium pieces are more favorable in the jewelry world. "The weight is heavier and the purity of the metal is simply purer than mixed alloys of certain gold. 14-karat white gold can have a lot of mixed metals of all kinds, and the metal purity of certain contents can be of lesser integrity," shares So.
With all this in mind, what's most important is that you make a decision that works best for you. White gold and palladium are practically identical, so if you're looking to buy a gorgeous ring that will last you a lifetime, either metal is a great choice for you to consider. In the end, it's all a personal choice.