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Gold vs. platinum

Gold vs. Platinum for Wedding Rings

Gold vs. platinum – the most pressing question in most people’s lives. These are the two most commonly used metals for engagement and wedding rings. Both metals are unique in what they offer, however, still similar in many ways. Let’s look at how gold and platinum compare in appearance, cost, durability, and comfort.

Gold vs Platinum Appearance

Many people create their identity throughout a lifetime by aligning with one of these metals. The main distinguishing physical characteristic between gold and platinum is color. Platinum is naturally white and gold is naturally yellow. If you want a yellow ring, then gold (also termed yellow gold) is the best option. However, if you want a white ring, you can opt for platinum or white gold. Which metal are you? If you opt for a white gold ring, it will be composed of gold, alloys, and a rhodium plating which gives it a white look that’s very similar to platinum. 14k white gold and 14k yellow gold have the same gold content and purity (roughly 58.5% gold), but the alloys in white gold (and the rhodium plating) make it appear white, while the alloys in yellow gold do not. White gold looks very similar to platinum, but over time the rhodium plating in white gold will wear off and fade (potentially to a yellowish color). Once you re-polish and re-plate the white gold ring with someone who does jewelry repair, it will appear white again. Platinum, which is naturally white, will not fade to yellow. For some, this is the deciding factor. For others, their life has to be drenched in gold.
Gold vs. Platinum
Gold vs. Platinum
Gold vs. Platinum

Gold vs. Platinum Cost

The biggest advantage you will find for white gold over platinum is the cost. Platinum is more expensive because it is rarer and mined much less than gold. Only 160 tons of platinum are mined annually, as opposed to 1,500 tons of gold. Precious metals are also priced by weight. Platinum is far more dense than gold, so the same ring will weigh quite a bit more in platinum than gold, thus increasing the price. So you can now see why a white gold setting costs approximately half as much as a comparable setting in platinum. For more or less the same color, then, you can save quite a bit of money going with white gold — savings that you can then apply to upgrading the quality of the ring’s center stone (if it has a center stone)

Gold vs. Platinum Composition

You’ll mostly find white gold jewelry offered in 14K (58.3% pure gold) or 18K versions (75% pure gold). Gold will be mixed with other metals to form an alloy that is stronger than pure gold (aka 24 karat gold). You don’t often find 24K diamond rings being sold because they would be very soft. It is mixed with other metals to give it additional hardness, so though having an 18 or 24K gold ring sounds appealing, it will cause far more care and maintenance. Platinum is a very strong and heavy metal. Those who wear platinum often have the character and personality to go with it. Despite being stronger and more durable, platinum is a softer metal than 14k gold. This means you can scratch it just a little easier than a 14k gold ring. However, an important thing to note is that when gold is scratched, the gold is lost and it looks like a scratch. When platinum is scratched, it develops something called a patina finish (which looks like an antique or worn ring). Potentially this suits your personality. Platinum is the densest precious metal that you can buy, so all factors will have to be considered.  Most of all, for all the reasons above, you’ll need to decide if you are gold or platinum.

Color and Care

This brings us to our next point. There really is no such thing as “pure white gold”. It has to be mixed or alloyed with white metals in order to achieve this finish. Often the ring is also coated in rhodium to give it a white, shinier finish. Every few years, it should be re-dipped to retain its white color and shine and to replace its rhodium plating. If this care process isn’t followed you’ll find that the ring will revert back to the color of its main ingredient – yellow gold. Seems like a pain, but most jewelers can easily do this for you; just put it on the calendar. Platinum, on the other hand, has a natural grayish white color. In order for it to be sold, it must have at least 90-95 percent platinum; if less, it would be called a platinum alloy. Over time, platinum’s color will not fade to yellow like white gold, but its shiny finish will dull to a natural patina, which some people actually like because it makes a potential center diamond appear even more sparkly by contrast. Platinum can also be shined professionally to restore its original luster, a process which is comparable in cost to caring for white gold. You’ll find that white gold vs. platinum is not the same when set side by side. White gold is more silvery and platinum is more grey. Another deciding factor in the quest for your persona. One thing you’ll want to be careful of is mixing them in a set. You’ll certainly see the difference then.

Legend & Lore

Culture has taught us that gold is the top prize. International Olympians compete for the gold. Platinum, however, seems to be the new symbol of wealth and prestige. We see it on top end credit cards and, the red carpet and more. As a society, marketing created its place amongst the best. Historically though, gold symbolizes wealth, wisdom, and divinity, as in the Bible’s “golden rule” and Aristotle’s “golden mean.” “The golden age” and “golden years” signify good times, and the 50th wedding anniversary is said to be the golden anniversary. Gold is also considered by most to be the traditional metal of wedding and engagement bands. Since gold does not tarnish over time, it helps to symbolize the couple’s eternal vows to each other and has often been incorporated into the nuptial jewelry in many cultures.

An example of gold in traditional Indian wedding dress.

Photography by Lace Hanky Photography.

Gold vs. Platinum
Gold vs. Platinum

Some final thoughts on Gold vs. Platinum

If you still can’t decide between gold and platinum and don’t have a real character draw towards one or the other, don’t stress about it. As you local jeweler of more than 30 years in downtown Minneapolis – we’re here to help.  If you have the budget, you may just go for platinum. If you don’t, then gold is a very precious metal and is an excellent, traditional choice. Do you suffer from allergies? Platinum is actually the only true hypoallergenic precious jewelry metal that you can buy because it is 95% pure. White gold is made from a mix of metals, and some of these metals could easily irritate someone’s skin if they have a particular sensitivity. If you are aware of any of these allergies or suspect you may have any, then stick to platinum. At the end of the day, all rings require some minimal upkeep and maintenance so make sure you purchase your rings from a local jeweler that offers warranties and who will re-polish, clean, and re-plate your rings for you. If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between gold vs. platinum or you’d like to see them side-by-side, just drop and see us in the skyway or schedule an appointment.
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