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So, are you planning to propose? You’ll know how important yet tricky it is to pick the perfect engagement ring. The moment you step into that jewelry shop, the salesman will ask what you are looking for. You might draw a blank, and that’s a scenario you should try to avoid.
To help you make this joyous yet never-racking moment of your life (“will she say yes or no?”), we present the ultimate jewelry guide that will help you decide between white gold and silver. Most people opt for either a white gold or silver ring with a diamond setting. After all, you can’t leave the most precious stone out of the equation.
We are here to discuss which metals you should choose for jewelry pieces like rings. As for the diamonds and gems placed in them, that’s a separate matter we’ll discuss some other time.
Moving on to the matter at hand: Is white gold silver?
White gold and silver are two different metals. White gold is yellow gold combined with other metals that make it white in color. Silver is naturally silver in color (go figure right).
White gold and silver are known as white metals. According to National Jeweler, 17% of people prefer silver, whereas 35% prefer white gold. Since both these metals look extremely similar, it can be a little challenging to decide which one to choose. Hence, we turn to their strengths and weaknesses in terms of factors like cost, maintenance, durability, strength, and color differences.
Right off the bat, we’ll tell you that white gold is more expensive than silver.
Now, let’s explore both metals and their unique characteristics:
To see some of the most popular white gold jewelry just click here.
Composition of White Gold
White gold is made with pure gold and alloys, which are a combination of other metals that help strengthen the jewelry. Their addition to pure gold gives the metal strength and its characteristic white appearance. To determine the authenticity and purity of white gold, its karats are measured based on the ratio of alloy(s).
White gold jewelry comes in 14K and 18K. To determine pure gold’s percentage within white gold, divide the karats by 24. For example, if a white gold ring is 14K, it is made with 41.7% alloys and 58.3% pure gold. Similarly, an 18K white gold ring is made with 25% alloys and 75% pure gold.
As for alloys, these include palladium, silver, and/or nickel. How durable the jewelry will turn out to be and its traits depend on the alloys used in it. Though 18K white gold jewelry is in high demand due to the high ratio of pure gold in it, many people prefer 14K because it’s a durable and affordable option.
Composition of Silver
Silver on its own is a pure, soft metal. It is used in just about everything, including jewelry, electrical contacts, batteries, tableware, etc. Since silver is malleable, it is mixed with an alloy, usually copper, which gives it more strength. Sometimes, nickel is added in addition to or instead of copper.
Silver jewelry usually comes with a label that says “Sterling Silver.” You might even spot the number “925” engraved or stamped on the inside. The “925” in the label indicates that the jewelry is made with sterling silver containing 92.5% of pure silver and 7.5% of alloys.
Since silver and copper are hypoallergenic, this white metal is a great option for people with sensitive skin. However, the presence of copper in it is a con. Silver jewelry oxidizes over time, so it must be polished occasionally to avoid discoloration.
White Gold vs. Silver
Now that you know the main characteristics of silver and white gold, let’s talk about what sets them apart:
One of the biggest characteristics that sets silver and white gold apart is that they don’t stay shiny forever. Their method of maintenance differs based on their outer covering. Although both white metals don’t tarnish, they do discolor. Therefore, both metals require extra care.
White gold gets its shiny appearance from rhodium plating. Rhodium belongs to the platinum family and is a metal that prevents scratches. Over time, this metal changes color and turns from white to yellow. All you have to do to restore your jewelry’s shiny look is get it re-plated.
On the other hand, silver requires frequent cleaning. If you don’t polish it often, the metal will tarnish. Cleaning silver is not that easy, so you need to take it to a professional. However, if you have got time on your hands, you can make a DIY cleaner using lemon juice, vinegar, and corn starch.
The following table breaks down the major differences between silver and white gold:
|Has a very lustrous and shiny finish.
|Has a mirror-like beautiful white shine due to the Rhodium plating.
|Is an affordable, budget-friendly, and beautiful alternative.
|If you have a high budget, jewelry made with fine quality material makes for a great option.
|Lower in price compared to white gold.
|Since white gold jewelry is made with damage-resistant and high-quality material, it is considered an investment.
|It is softer compared to white gold, so its shape might get distorted over time.
|Has a hard and more durable finish, which can handle more intricate details.
|When new, silver shines brightly. However, it needs to be cleaned frequently to maintain its shiny look because it tarnishes fast.
|Maintains its shape, shine, and color for a long time. Requires rhodium re-plating after every year or depending on how often you wear it.
In conclusion, white gold is not silver but contains a small amount of it, along with pure gold and alloys, giving this metal a white appearance. To maintain your jewelry’s shiny white appearance, you need to get it re-plated with rhodium every 6 to 12 months.
White gold is hypoallergenic. If the white metal contains less pure gold and more alloys, it’s possible it might discolor under chlorine and chemicals. Depending on how often you wear your white jewelry and what it is exposed to, you might or might not make it last. A little water will not hurt your jewelry. However, we recommend not wearing it in the shower because the constant exposure to it might dull the jewelry’s shine.