The Big Match: Platinum v. White Gold. Why choosing a metal could make (or break) your ring.

The Leake Co. creates beautiful custom jewelry to your needs
Choosing The Right Metal for Your Engagement Ring
This is the age-old debate for engagement ring wearers and their givers, and honestly, it’s one of my top-asked questions.  There was some salesperson once upon a time that told another salesperson (and so on and so on) that Platinum was the end-all-be-all.  And, here we are today!  So many of my clients think that 18k White Gold is soft, that Platinum can do no wrong, and that anything else is a horrendous mistake.
Let's all take a moment to reset, shall we?

First: Do what is best for you.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, especially when it comes to jewelry.
Glad we got that out of the way.

Sarah Martin Rowe
louisville private jeweler
In Corner #1: Platinum
Choosing a metal is one part practicality, one part aesthetic preference.  My first question I ask of a client who’s waffling between platinum and white gold:
What is your lifestyle like?
Answer 1: I’m really rough on my jewelry, and I never take it off.
Result: You need platinum, my friend
The Pros of Platinum
Platinum is a lovely metal that takes a beating and keeps on ticking.
It has a wonderful memory for shape, which simply put, means that you can bend it and it can easily resume its natural form with the help of a great jeweler.
To me, platinum is like leather–extremely pliable in the right hands, but when treated right, can last for generations.
The Cons of Platinum
Because platinum can bend, you should also assume that it’s less scratch resistant. Sure, it can take extreme force, but it’s also easy to dent and scratch.
That means that it will still experience damage if you do extreme activities, like Crossfit or rock climbing, and should ideally be taken off beforehand.
After these fine scratches establish themselves, a “patina” develops, which in layman’s terms, means that these fine scratches dull the metal to a grey hue. (Luckily, a quick jeweler’s polish will restore it to a bright finish!)
In Corner #2: White Gold
Let’s rewrite some fallacies of white gold, for starters.  White gold is not naturally white.
Traditional ol’ yellow gold is mixed with a naturally “white” metal like palladium (or less desirably, zinc or nickel) to bring it to a whiter state.  As the final magic trick, a jeweler applies a thin coating of rhodium, another white metal like palladium, to get it to a shiny, silvery-white state.
Do you prefer a bright, silvery finish?
Answer 1: Yes, I like high shine and silvery white color.
Result: You need white gold, my friend.
The Pros of White Gold
White gold and platinum look the exact same to the naked eye.  However, white gold will be notably less in price, usually by about 20%.  (Although as of this blog post in November 2020, that’s not true, with gold at a record $1900/oz).  It’s a nice way to save in budget.  18k White Gold is also occasionally hypoallergenic.
The Cons of White Gold
Like I mentioned earlier, white gold is not naturally white. Over time, the rhodium coating will wear off, and the ring will appear semi-yellow. No worries! A quick spa trip to the jeweler, and your ring will be replated with rhodium. This service can cost anywhere from $30 to $60 on average, and is usually suggested once a year.
Additionally, white gold is brittle. Whereas platinum bends under pressure, white gold breaks. That means that this metal may require some babying when it comes to prong care. I suggest having a white gold ring’s prongs checked twice a year for damage or breakage, depending on how hard you are on the item.
In Conclusion

Before you commit to a metal for your engagement ring, really consider what your wearing style is like.  After all, an engagement ring is an heirloom and should be strong enough to withstand at least your lifetime and the next generation’s.


More questions?  Drop me a line.