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Sterling Silver vs. Gold vs. White Gold vs. Platinum

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There are many different metals to choose from when selecting your new piece of jewelry. Whether it's an engagement ring or a pair of earrings, you should always weight the advantages and limitations of each metal. Sterling silver, gold, white gold and platinum are common choices for jewelry pieces, so learn more about the key similarities and differences to find the right option for you.  

Sterling Silver

Gold

White Gold

Platinum

Color

SilverGoldLight silverSilver

Pure or Alloy

AlloyBoth pure and alloyAlloyBoth pure and alloy

Hypoallergenic

Yes, if combined with hypoallergenic metalsYes, if combined with hypoallergenic metalsYes, if combined with hypoallergenic metalsYes

Cost

Typically affordableModerately pricedModerately pricedTypically pricey

Sterling Silver

Advantages of Sterling Silver

  • Price - Sterling silver is the most economical choice between gold, white gold and platinum.
  • Good durability - Silver is durable enough for everyday wear, but must be cared for properly to avoid tarnish.
  • Great for trend pieces - The affordable price point makes sterling silver a great option for less expensive fashion jewelry in trendy styles.
Limitations of Sterling Silver
 
  • Can tarnish - Over time, the silver may lose its sheen as it oxidizes, but it can be polished back to its original appearance.
  • Less ideal for gem settings - Sterling silver doesn't hold gemstones as well as other metals.
  • May affect sensitive skin - Because sterling silver is an alloy mixed with other metals, naturally sensitive skin can have reactions to it.

Gold

Advantages of Gold

  • Retains value - Gold jewelry offers the timeless gold color that will always be relevant and holds its value.
  • Moderate price - Although it's more expensive than most low-grade metals, gold is still relatively affordable compared to white gold and platinum.
  • Good for sensitive skin - Gold is mostly hypoallergenic, as long as it isn't mixed with other metals like nickel.
Limitations of Gold
 
  • Low durability - When gold is in the most pure form, it's very soft and is easily damaged.
  • Lower lifespan - Over time, jewelry made of gold alloy will break down. Pure gold will last, but pure gold is quite rare for jewelry.
  • Style considerations - Although gold is a classic look, wearing large amounts of it can be considered gaudy. It's important to find the right style and balance when you choose gold pieces of jewelry.

White Gold

Advantages of White Gold

  • Highly durable - White gold is a stronger alternative to sterling silver.
  • Price advantage - This type of metal has a more moderate price point than platinum, offering an economical alternative that remains stylish.
  • Lightweight - White gold has a lower density than platinum which makes it lighter to wear.
Limitations of White Gold
 
  • Rarely hypoallergenic - White gold gets its color from a mixture of metals, so it is less common to find a piece of jewelry using a completely hypoallergenic alloy.
  • Requires maintenance - Over time, the rhodium that creates the white tone will start to wear, and the metal will turn into yellow gold. To prevent this, get white gold jewelry re-dipped every few years.
  • Can show wear - While this metal is tough, it still scratches and wears over time.

Platinum

Advantages of Platinum

  • Completely hypoallergenic - The purity of platinum makes it hypoallergenic, so your won't have adverse effects to wearing it.
  • Best durability - Unlike other metals, platinum is very hard to scratch or ding, making it perfect for everyday jewelry.
  • Retains appearance - Platinum can lose some luster over time, but it can be professionally shined to regain it.
Limitations of Platinum
 
  • High price - Platinum is a rare metal and therefore tends to be more expensive than its counterparts.
  • Heavy weight - The density of platinum is high, making it heavy to wear.
  • Darker color tone - This metal is slightly darker than silver or white gold and loses luster over time.