diamond buying guide

Platinum vs White Gold

With the similarity in appearance, but a vast difference in costs, many people are left wondering about the pros and cons of platinum vs. white gold. Here are some of the answers along with some tips to figuring out which metal is right for you.

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In a recent conversation with Blue Nile, I learned that platinum is their most popular metal for wedding bands. When mentioning this to a friend, they were surprised that so many people would choose platinum over the less expensive white gold. So let's talk about the differences between the two metals.

Let's Get the Easy Stuff Out of the Way

If there's one thing most people know about platinum, it's the cost. Take a look at these examples (all from Blue Nile):

platinum vs white gold costs

There's no question, with similarly styled and sized rings, platinum is always more expensive than white gold. The primary reason for the cost difference is the fact that platinum is the more rare of the two (on a yearly basis, we mine about 10 times as much gold as platinum). See Blue Nile's selection of wedding bands.

To understand why so many couples choose the more expensive rings, let's first look at a seemingly unrelated topic: Allergies.

When Nickel Sneaks In

In 50+ years of marriage, my father never wore a wedding ring. Not because he didn't want to or didn't have one, but because he and my mother had opted for white gold wedding bands -- without knowing that white gold is a mixture of yellow gold and "various alloys".

The most commonly used alloy? Nickel. And, like many people, my father was allergic to nickel (in the US, nickel is the most common cause of contact rashes).

Today, most white gold sold in the US is rhodium plated. The plating improves appearance (rhodium is whiter and reflects more light than standard white gold alloys) and it allows those with a nickel allergy to wear white gold jewelry.

In spite of the benefits, though, rhodium plating has one major downfall. It wears off. Both daily wear and exposure to chemicals (think house cleaning products and swimming pool chlorine) can accelerate the rate of wear. Replating is not hugely expensive, but it's not free either. In my area, the cost of replating one ring ranges from $90 - $175. You can find cheaper plating options (thinner plate), but they are not intended for jewelry you wear every day.

If your heart (or wallet) is set on white gold, keep the cost of replating in mind.

Unlike gold, platinum is a naturally white metal and is not plated. And while the platinum that is in jewelry is also a mixture of metals, those metals don't include nickel. For example, Blue Nile's platinum is 95% pure plus 5% iridium, palladium, ruthenium, and other platinum group metal alloys.

You'll Be Shocked At What Photographs of Platinum vs White Gold Reveal

You wouldn't be here if you weren't a fan of online research. Photographs can be a huge part of that and if you look online for photographs of the differences between white gold and platinum, you'll find plenty.

And they'll likely leave you feeling more confused than when you started. In some photographs the two metals look identical, in others the white gold looks yellow (or the platinum looks gray), and in others one is shiny and the other dull.

In other words, the only thing shocking about what these photographs reveal is how very little they help in making a decision.

Like you, I'm a fan of online research (and a diehard fan of buying jewelry online), but the truth is that there's only one way to get the complete picture of the appearance differences between white gold and platinum – hold the two metals in your hand and compare them.

A trip to the local mall jewelry store, where you can compare the two metals side-by-side, will make you much more confident about your decision.

Which Is Heavier?

You might not think that the various weights of metals will make a difference in something as small as a ring, but platinum is 20% denser than gold and you will notice the difference. For some people, the added weight of platinum has a more luxurious, substantial feel. For others, the lighter weight of white gold is a more comfortable fit for the hand.

The good news is that the weight doesn't affect the quality of the ring and your personal preference is the only thing that matters.

Which Is Better for Wedding Jewelry?

Let me start off with saying that both white gold and platinum make lovely durable wedding jewelry. One isn't inherently "better" than the other. And with all wedding decisions, there are sentimental and emotional preferences. For example, some people prefer the longer tradition of using gold in wedding jewelry, while others prefer to use a less traditional material.

Unless a nickel allergy is involved (in which case I recommend platinum), both metals are an excellent choice.

Where to Buy Platinum and White Gold Wedding Bands Online

  • Blue Nile: Not only does Blue Nile have a great selection of both Platinum and White Gold wedding bands, here's a 10% off coupon code*: GUIDE10 (exclusive to the Diamond Buying Guide).
  • James Allen: In addition to white gold and platinum, James Allen also carries a selection of alternative metals such as titanium and cobalt.

*Terms and Conditions: Valid on select regularly-priced jewelry excluding loose diamonds, settings and Build Your Own Diamond Jewelry™. Offer not valid on pre-set engagement rings, sale merchandise, gift certificates, Monique Lhuillier jewelry, back-ordered items, polishing cloth, and jewelry cleaner purchases. Reference code GUIDE10 must be entered in cart or mentioned over phone at time of purchase. Offer may not be combined with any other offer, cannot be applied retroactively, and applies to US customers only. Void where prohibited. Offer expires midnight PST 12/31/2014. The offer terms and conditions are subject to change at any time without prior notice. Other restrictions may apply.

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