Over the last half a century, we’ve seen a rise in the popularity of white gold, with consumers in the US choosing it as their preferred metal for diamond jewelry. Similar in color to platinum, white gold jewelry certainly looks expensive but is it significantly more valuable than yellow gold? Let’s find out.
There’s no denying that white gold is beautiful, especially when paired with sparkling diamonds. The gleaming white color offers something a little different and is a much more contemporary choice, compared to classic yellow gold. However, there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding its value.
Here we’ll provide a complete guide to white gold, explaining how it is made and how it differs from yellow gold. We’ll also look at how gold is valued and determine whether or not claims that white gold is more valuable are true.
Excited to find out the answers? Let’s get started…
What is white gold made of?
Before we look at the differences between colored gold, it’s important to know how the metals are made.
All gold jewelry has to be mixed with a harder metal for added durability and strength. Pure gold is very soft and therefore, not suitable for jewelry making, as it would just bend out of shape.
Yellow gold, rose gold and white gold are all alloys of pure gold. They simply differ in the metals they’re mixed with and consequently their color.
White gold is simply created when pure gold is mixed with alloy metals like silver or palladium, which are silvery-white in color. Unlike yellow gold and rose gold, white gold jewelry is also commonly coated with a precious metal called rhodium.
This precious metal, which comes from the same metal family as platinum, is used to add extra strength and durability to white gold. It also creates a gleaming white sheen on the surface of the jewelry, adding to its overall aesthetic.
Although white gold contains alloy metals, it is still very much ‘real gold.’ This is verified by the hallmark found on all authentic pieces of gold jewelry.
As with all gold jewelry, the weight of pure gold found in a piece of white gold jewelry will be measured in karats. The higher the karat weight, the more pure gold there is present in the jewelry. As you will have guessed, the price tags of gold jewelry will reflect their gold content. The more karats, the higher the price!
4 differences between white gold and yellow gold
The most obvious difference between white gold and yellow gold is the color. Yellow gold has a warm glow to it, whereas white gold has an icy sparkle. The best way to find out which color you prefer is to try on a piece of white gold jewelry and yellow gold jewelry and compare them. Usually, people find that one type of gold compliments their skin tone and complexion more than the other.
Another key difference between white gold and yellow gold is the connotations of the jewelry. Yellow gold is thought to be more traditional in style, whereas white gold is considered contemporary. Younger generations often choose trendy fashion jewelry in white gold, as its different from the jewelry their parents and grandparents would have worn. However, some will prefer a classic or vintage look and therefore, choose yellow gold instead.
3. Different metals
Although yellow gold and white gold jewelry are made in exactly the same way, there is a key difference in the mixture of the additional metals. For example, white gold will contain more silver, palladium or zinc, whereas yellow gold usually contains more nickel.
No matter how careful you are with your jewelry, it’s likely that over time it may get a little scratched. Both yellow gold and white gold are fairly durable, however, you must be careful when it comes to polishing out scuffs.
Yellow gold can be polished but it may remove a layer of metal along with the scratches. White gold can be polished and re-plated with rhodium, completely restoring the surface layer of the jewelry. This is why it’s often considered the more durable option.
How does the value of white gold compare to yellow gold?
We’re often asked whether white gold is worth more than the value of yellow gold and vice versa. The truth is, the value doesn’t relate to the color of the gold but rather its karat weight.
The purity of a piece of gold is measured in 24 parts. So for example, if a gold ring is 18 karats, it means that out of 24 parts, 18 parts are pure gold and the rest is another metal.
An 18 karat white gold ring and an 18 karat yellow gold ring have exactly the same purity of gold and therefore on gold value alone, would be the exact same.
Of course, the price of white gold jewelry and yellow gold jewelry will also be determined by other factors, such as the quality of craftsmanship, the complexity of the design and the stones it features.
Something else that could make white gold jewelry more expensive than yellow gold jewelry is the plating.
As we mentioned before, white gold plating with rhodium is a common practice as it not only boosts the intensity of the white color but also protects creates a protective layer over the metal. Rhodium is an expensive precious metal, so it’s likely to add to the price of white gold jewelry and make it appear more expensive than yellow gold alternatives.
How to choose between white gold jewelry and yellow gold?
When it comes to choosing a piece of gold jewelry, whether you opt for white gold or yellow gold will largely depend on your personal preference of color.
It’s not really a case of which is better. There is little to compare between how durable the two gold types are and we’ve already identified that white gold jewelry is not worth any more than yellow.
So really, it all comes down to color.
If you prefer jewelry with a silvery tone, white gold is likely to be more appealing than yellow gold. Whilst silver jewelry is a cheaper option, white gold is much more durable and therefore, a better choice in terms of practicality.
If budget isn’t an issue and you like the silver-tone of white gold, you may want to consider upgrading to platinum jewelry. This white-colored metal is considerably more expensive than silver or white gold but is much more durable and does not require repeated rhodium coating like white gold.
Diamonds and metal color
We’ve already mentioned that it’s worthwhile trying on a piece of white and yellow gold jewelry to see what suits your skin tone best. Alongside this, we’d suggest that if you are having a piece of jewelry designed, like an engagement ring, that you consider which type of metal will suit your stones best.
If you have a diamond of a lower color grade (i.e. K or L), it’s recommended that you choose a yellow gold metal. This is because diamonds of this grade often have a yellow tint to them. This tint won’t stand out as much against yellow gold as it would white gold.
However, if you are lucky enough to have a colorless diamond (D, E, F grade) or nearly colorless diamond (G, H, I and J grade), a white gold metal will make a perfect choice. The purity of the white gold will enhance the brilliance of your stones and really make them pop.
Although there are many benefits of choosing white gold jewelry, one of the downsides is that it required periodic maintenance, in the form of re-coating. Most jewelers offer white gold plating with rhodium as a service and it isn’t usually too expensive. However, the cost does add up over the years.
If you have your heart set on a white gold piece of jewelry, rather than yellow gold, it’s worth considering whether it is more cost-effective to invest in platinum jewelry instead. Platinum will offer the same glossy, contemporary look like white gold but will eliminate the need to pay for maintenance over time. But as we said before, it all depends on your budget.
Remember, it’s not all about the value of white gold
We personally believe that the value of a piece of jewelry shouldn’t affect how much you like it. Trendy fashion jewelry isn’t nearly as valuable as luxury jewelry made from precious metals but if you love the look of it and it means something to you, surely that’s where the value lies?
Now we’ve established that white gold jewelry is no more valuable than yellow gold, you can base your decision on personal preference alone. Pop into a jeweler or visit a reputable online jewelry site and compare the two side by side. If you’re more excited about one design than the other, then that’s what you should go for!
Yellow gold jewelry and white gold jewelry are both timeless, so whichever you choose you can be rest assured your jewelry will always be on point.
Do you prefer white gold jewelry or yellow gold?
Let us know which one is your favorite and why in the comments!