At various points in history, choosing between white gold vs. yellow gold would be a no-brainer. Yet in today’s hodgepodge of style trends, both metals are in massive demand. Rightfully so! Gold is not a singular variation of yellow metal anymore; there’s white gold,rose gold, and even black gold!
If you are feeling torn between white gold and yellow gold, how will you decide which to buy? That’s where we come in! Both have their pros and cons, so let’s explore each of these beautiful jewelry metals to find which is right for you (if not both!).
Miners have prospected for gold for centuries. Yet the 20th century yielded a massive boom in gold-panning and mining. In it’s most natural form, gold is a soft element excavated from the earth. Its bright, shiny hue made it the perfect accessory for ancient Egyptians to adorn themselves in. Yet yellow gold is far too soft to withstand daily wear and tear. That's why gold needs to blend with alloyed metals like silver, zinc or copper to strengthen in.
In turn, 24K gold is the purest form of gold as it contains 100% pure gold. Purity does come with a consequence, as pure gold is malleable and prone to bending or losing its shape. The smaller denominations of gold subsequently contain less pure gold and more alloy. A quick reference to help is to think of it like this: the less gold in the mix, the lower the karats. As such, the most common increments you’ll see in the jewelry marketplace are 10K, 14K, and 18K gold.
Alright, one thing’s clear: natural gold is yellow. So what is white gold if it’s not yellow? Is it natural? Yes, except white gold doesn’t come from nature with its sparkling silver hue. Instead, white gold is a mixture of metals covered in rhodium plating. A blend of metals like palladium, silver, copper, nickel, zinc and manganese mix with pure gold to create white gold. Finally, this unique metal blend gets coated with rhodium plating which gives it that eye-catching luster famous to white gold.
White gold follows the same structure for karat stamps as yellow gold and is most popular in 10K, 14K and 18K.
One thing to be wary of in both white and yellow gold is nickel. The nickel alloy in both metals is especially harmful to those with nickel-allergies. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for both nickel-free gold and white gold.
We've covered the basics, let's dive into a deeper comparison of the specific features of each.
For millennia yellow gold has dominated as the preferential jewelry metal. However, it has also endured its fair share of datedness, drifting out of style for decades at a time. During those times of falling in the shadows, white gold and platinum became the standard.
It was only in recent years that yellow gold circled back into style. And boy did it come back with a fury! Now, yellow gold is back in full-force. Truth is, all gold is popular right now, including yellow, white and rose gold. Most notably, gold is popular for wedding rings and bands, as well as engagement rings. But white gold is right there alongside it! Today, it's standard for jewelers to offer items in three variations: gold, white gold and rose gold.
With this even playing field, you can take your pick and find any design you love in either white gold or yellow gold. So, we know they are equally as popular, what about durability?
Durability relates to the blend of alloys used to create both yellow gold and white gold. Because they are both mixed with alloys, they are each relatively durable. That said, white gold has a slight edge because the metals used in the alloy are a bit stronger.
See, gold is so soft that it needs a high percentage of alloy metals to protect it from damage over time. The karatage of the gold will ultimately dictate its durability. Still, white gold has rhodium plating that equips it with an added layer of protection.
On the other hand, yellow gold is more susceptible to scratching because it doesn't have a shield. In other words, it’s not rhodium plated. While rhodium plating protects white gold, it requires re-plating over time. This adds extra costs to your white gold jewelry, which leads us to our next point:
If you had to take a guess, which would you assume is more valuable, yellow gold or white gold? We'll admit that was a trick question because they are equal in value. Instead of comparing the value, it boils down to liquidity and karatage. For instance, 24K gold is going to cost significantly more than 10K gold because it has more pure gold. It doesn't quite matter what type of gold it is because they both contain percentages of pure gold. The real metric here is the amount of pure gold in the mix. That said, there may be some instances where white gold costs more than yellow gold. Why? It comes back to the rhodium plating, which over time accrues greater costs in maintenance.
When buying jewelry, it's important to consider what metals compliment your skin tone. For example, one metal might glow gorgeously from your skin and be too harsh for someone else's. Prime example? Yellow gold complements warm and dark-toned skin. Yet against cool or pale skin tones, yellow makes the skin look faint and washed out. The best way to decide which metal looks best on you is to go and try both on. When in doubt, the best thing to do is to see something in person. In fact, this can make all the difference!
The truth is that choosing between yellow gold vs. white gold is an individual choice. The qualities you love about yellow gold might be the very reason why someone else doesn't like it. The two are similar in durability, price, and popularity, which means choosing one is completely personal. When in doubt, try both and go with your heart. Who says you have to choose one? Mixing metals is on-trend, especially with stacking bridal rings and bands.
Sometimes you just have to rely on that old-fashioned gut feeling of seeing something and knowing that you have to have it! Ready to shop?
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