Platinum vs. White Gold

Which metal is better for your engagement ring?

Platinum vs. White Gold: Which metal is more durable
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Platinum and gold are by far the most popular metals used in jewelry today. However, they are vastly different in cost, durability, and even appearance. Is platinum worth the extra spend?

Platinum vs. White Gold: Cost

If you've ever shopped for a diamond ring, you know that platinum can be significantly more expensive than a comparable ring in white gold. However, the difference in cost may not be as much as you think.

There used to be a large discrepancy between the cost per ounce of gold and the cost per ounce of platinum. Gold cost around $1,000 per ounce and platinum cost around $1,800 per ounce. 

More recently, the cost per ounce of the two precious metals is similar. Gold averages around $1,100 per ounce and platinum averages $1,000 per ounce. 

Despite gold costing more per ounce, platinum is still more expensive. The main reason platinum is more expensive is that, even at the same cost, it takes more platinum to make a platinum ring than it takes to make a similar size ring in gold.

Platinum is between 90 - 99% pure whereas 14K white gold is only 58.33% pure gold with the rest being alloys. Platinum is also denser and therefore more heavy than the same size ring in gold. 

White gold became popular in the 1920's as an inexpensive alternative for platinum. Platinum is the original luxury precious metal of choice. So what are the benefits of paying the extra money for platinum? And, ultimately, which metal is better for you?

Benefits of Platinum

  • Platinum is allergy friendly because it is a hypoallergenic and pure metal. If you have allergies to certain alloys or metals, you may need a platinum ring. Many people allergic to white gold are able to wear platinum with no issues.
  • Platinum will never discolor or tarnish. Gold will eventually tarnish due to the alloys in the metal.
  • You will never need to "dip" platinum. Modern day white gold can turn yellow when the mirror like finish wears off, requiring additional rhodium plating. This can get expensive over time.
  • Because platinum is denser, it is up to four times stronger than white gold. It is less likely to bend, scratch, or dent. 
  • If you are hard on your rings, platinum may be the best option for you. Platinum is less likely to wear down in cleaners or with everyday wear. When it does wear, it will do so at a much slower rate than white gold. 
  • Platinum can make off-color diamonds appear whiter due to the pure white color of the metal.

Benefits of White Gold

  • White gold is friendlier on your budget, so if you have a specific price point you need to stick to, you can perhaps get a larger diamond if you stick to white gold.
  • White gold is less expensive for repair work. Say eventually you need a prong replaced, a platinum ring is going to cost significantly more to get fixed. Also if you ever need your ring resized, the cost can be nearly double on a platinum ring.
  • Antique white gold predating 1940 uses more pure white alloys so it does not yellow in the same way modern white gold does. If you are seeking out an engagement ring from the 1920's or 1930's, antique 18K white gold makes a great platinum alternative, without having to pay for platinum. 
  • If you have a white gold engagement ring, buying platinum wedding bands would be a bad idea, since the metals wear at different rates. The strength of the platinum would cause the gold to wear down faster than usual.

Ultimately the decision of which metal to buy revolves mostly around your budget. If you are buying new rings and have the budget for platinum, that is definitely the right choice. If you are shopping for antique rings, 18K white gold is a great option being more "white" than modern 14k white gold.

Remember, with proper care, even a 14K white gold ring can always be kept in a beautiful, undamaged state.