Are you shopping for someone special or looking for a new piece to add to your own collection?
The art of jewelry selection is subjective and dependent on your personal style, aesthetic and reason for purchasing.
But with so many different options out there, it can be difficult to choose which is best for you. To the naked eye, weighing the pros and cons of white gold vs sterling silver may seem redundant since they virtually look the same. But look closer; there are many differences worth considering before you make your purchase.
Check out our guide below to see which is right for you.
Gold and silver are both naturally occurring metals that are found in the earth's crust. They are both soft metals and must be combined with others in order to make the material wearable as jewelry.
Silver is typically alloyed with copper to add strength. When shopping for sterling silver, keep in mind that a piece with a label of 0.925 is required to have at least 92.5% pure silver. This is a good measurement to tell if you're indeed getting an authentic and pure piece of jewelry.
White gold itself does not exist naturally in the earth, it is yellow gold that is mixed with other materials to change its appearance, making it resemble platinum. Yellow gold is often mixed with nickel or zinc.
When you look more carefully, you'll notice that sterling silver is brighter than white gold. We use karats to determine the purity and authenticity of gold. White gold can only reach 21 karats whereas yellow gold goes up to 24.
To reach the purest form of gold, the metal cannot be mixed with others which is why the highest karats must remain yellow, as they were found in their natural form. 18 karat white gold is is 75% pure and 14 karat white gold is 58.5% pure.
When it comes to choosing between sterling silver and white gold, it will likely boil down to the look you are going for since they do look very similar. Often times with rings, sterling silver can look too shiny, especially against a diamond or gemstone set inside.
White gold tends to look a little more sophisticated when it comes to fine jewelry. However, necklaces and bracelets tend to pop more when made with sterling silver.
Gold is typically more valuable than silver, although the cost of each will fluctuate given the state of the market. Silver is an affordable and reasonably priced metal. If you're on a budget - but want something real - this is probably the right choice. Silver is now being used regularly as budget-conscious couples look for a cheap engagement ring.
White gold is frequently used as an alternative to platinum which can be very pricey. White gold is a more economical option if you still want the same look as a platinum setting. Platinum is a very soft metal and can be easily scratched or damaged, making white gold an ideal alternative to this metal while still allowing for the same look.
It's important to keep in mind that white gold does not lose value simply because it's been mixed with other metals. The piece will still be measured by how much real gold is included and that gold will remain just as valuable as if it were yellow.
While silver will generally be less expensive than white gold, you should also consider the other factors of the piece like diamonds, gemstones or other elements of the jewelry that will raise the cost regardless of the metal you choose to use.
Sterling silver is less durable than white gold which is why most people choose the material for everyday wear items like their wedding band. Sterling silver can scratch easily and even bend or become misshapen over time and when exposed to the elements.
Keep in mind it is a soft metal so this isn't abnormal or any indication of its quality. White gold is more durable and is likely a better choice for jewelry you plan to wear every day to ensure there is little damage to your piece. It can resist scratching and the shape will not change.
If you've ever had a piece of sterling silver jewelry, you may have noticed it tarnishes or becomes black over time, even if stored properly. With a good polish and the right care, the piece can easily be restored to its original state.
To avoid this from happening in the first place, be sure to polish and clean your sterling silver jewelry regularly and store the pieces away from any excessive heat or moisture.
White gold is less maintenance and will not tarnish over time. It requires less cleaning and care because the material is more scratch resistant and durable against elements like heat and water. The white gold may lose some of its shine over time but it can be cleaned at home or by a professional jeweler to bring back its luster.
If anything, some of the mixed metal may wear off over time, exposing the yellow from the original gold. If this happens, a jeweler will be able to coat the piece again and bring it back to its original appearance.
Some people may find they're allergic to the nickel or other metals used to mix the white gold. This is not typical and many jewelers can use a hypoallergenic coating material to avoid a reaction so be sure to ask if you do indeed have a metal allergy.
White gold retains a tinge of yellow while sterling silver can tarnish. Neither characteristic is desirable for consumers. Rhodium finish or rhodium dipping has become a popular treatment for both white gold and sterling silver. What is Rhodium? Rhodium is a metal in the platinum family that has a rich silver luster that prevents tarnish and preserves an even shine. For white gold, the rhodium dipping covers any hint of the yellow gold roots. For sterling silver, a rhodium finish prevents tarnishing. If possible, look for pieces finished in rhodium for a long-lasting, low-maintenance jewelry collection.
Now that you know all the differences, you really can see that although they may appear to look similar, they are two very different metals in white gold vs sterling silver.
There are positives and negatives to both materials. Sterling silver is less durable but more affordable. White gold is more durable but comes with a higher price tag.
Think about the type of piece you'd like to by and how often it will be worn when making your decision. Be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more jewelry tips!