To the naked eye, white gold and silver may look very similar. However, white gold and silver are in fact, very different from each other. Despite some minor similarities in terms of looks and usage, white gold and silver differ from each other in most aspects such as their properties, durability, pricing, and even color.
We are going to explain all the differences and similarities between white gold and silver in this article. We’ll also suggest some good-quality jewelry made of white gold and silver. Before we get into the detailed comparison, let’s have a look at what white gold and silver really are.
What is White Gold
In the simplest of terms, white gold is basically gold that looks white. But isn’t gold supposed to be ‘golden’? Yes, it is, when it is pure, or almost pure. White gold is not pure gold. The white color in white gold comes from other metals (nickel for example) mixed with it. There are various types of white gold out there, with different gold percentages in each.
When the US Government announced that platinum was a strategic material during World War I, white gold became very popular. As platinum was out of bounds from civilian use, white gold became a very common material used to make engagement rings.
What is Silver
Silver is one of the 118 elements found naturally in the environment. It is a soft, shiny metal. Silver has been used in different kinds of Jewelry since ancient times. In Ancient Egypt, pharaohs, kings, queens, and the other members of royal families exclusively used silver jewelry. Silver jewelry was also very popular among the wealthy in ancient Greece.
Pure silver is not very durable, just like pure gold. That’s why most of the time pure silver is alloyed with other metals. The most popular silver alloy is called sterling silver. Sterling silver contains 92.5% silver.
Properties of White Gold and Silver
Properties of White Gold
The most common form of white gold alloy contains silver and zinc alongside pure gold. Zinc provides the alloy with a lot of durability, as Zinc is a strong rust-resistant metal. Zinc is also responsible for the white color of the white gold alloy.
If gold count is high a white gold alloy, more often than not, is coated with rhodium to make it look ‘white’. With a high gold percentage, silver and zinc can’t overshadow the yellow hue of the alloy, hence rhodium is used. For lower percentages, 9k gold, for example, rhodium coating is not necessary. However, these alloys are not premium.
Learn more about gold karats in our blog: "Introduction to All Gold Karats: 9k, 10k, 14k, 18k, 22k, and 24k".
Properties of Silver
Most of the silver ornaments available in the market are made of sterling silver. Sterling silver is very often marked with 925, which demonstrates its 92.5% content. The rest 7.5% percent can be copper, zinc, or nickel. Copper is the most popular metal to prepare the sterling silver alloy.
The use of copper in sterling silver alloy is due to the metal’s durability. However, copper is not suitable for very long term use, as it develops a layer of green patina over time. Nickel gives the alloy more sparkle.
Another popular and more premium form of silver is fine silver. Fine silver has a 99% pure silver content. It is a much softer version of the metal.
White Gold Color
White gold is supposed to look ‘white’. However, if the percentage of gold is high and there is no rhodium plating, it looks a bit yellowish. White gold with rhodium plating has an identical color to platinum. The rhodium plating makes white gold scratch resistant too.
Silver comes with a tint of grey. It is shiny, but not as bright as rhodium plated white gold. Due to the existence of copper in the alloy, over time sterling silver can develop a green patina.
White Gold Scratch Resistance
White gold is way more scratch resistant than pure gold. Zinc and nickel are used in white gold alloy to make it more resistant to scratches. The rhodium plating on white gold adds an extra layer of protection against scratches.
Silver Scratch Resistance
Silver and its common alloys are not very scratch resistant. Silver jewelry is more prone to wear and tear compared to white gold.
White Gold Durability
Some white gold alloys are very durable. However, you need to pick an alloy with a high percentage of pure gold in it. Gold, in its purest form, does not tarnish over time. When it comes to white gold, the other metals in the alloy may tarnish without proper maintenance.
Silver is also very durable like white gold. Pure silver does not tarnish either. Just like white gold, you should pick a silver alloy with higher percentages of pure silver if durability is your concern. Sterling silver is fairly durable, but the other metals in the alloy do get tarnished over time.
White Gold Markings
Markings in white gold indicate the purity of the gold used in the alloy. White gold markings are usually the karat of gold content present in the alloy. For example, if your white gold ring is marked with 14K, that means the alloy is made of 14 karat gold.
Just like white gold, markings in silver also indicate the purity of silver content present in the alloy. However, the format of the marking is totally different in silver and its alloys. The markings in silver jewelry indicate the percentage of pure silver in the alloy. As we mentioned above, a silver ornament marked with 925 means that it has 92.5% pure silver in it.
Use in Jewelry
White Gold Jewelry
White gold is widely used in different types of jewelry all around the world. Here are some of the major examples.
White gold is a great option for showcasing the expensive diamond on a wedding ring. It became very popular when platinum was banned from civilian use during World War I. For wedding rings, make sure your chosen white gold has rhodium plating.
Some people prefer yellow gold over white gold when choosing over a wedding ring. Learn more about the yellow gold benefits here!
Just like wedding rings, white gold is a trendy material to use in necklaces for both men and women.
Both men and women wear white gold chains. While the gold used in white gold chains can come in different karats, the most popular ones are 14k and 10k. Have a look at Icecartel’s cuban link chain!
White gold is more common in unisex earrings. 14k gold is more common in white gold earrings. If you are looking for a pair, Icecartel’s Halo Stud Earrings would be a great fit.
Silver is a well-known base for wedding rings and engagement rings. Most silver wedding rings are made of sterling silver, though fine silver is also very common.
Some people think that silver necklaces are more than fashion choices. They believe wearing silver necklaces can improve mood and circulate blood circulation. While there’s no solid scientific proof in favor of these beliefs, they do make silver necklaces more significant.
Sterling silver makes necklaces shiny and stylish. If you are into silver necklaces, look into Icecartel’s Miami cuban link chain!
As it is convenient to give popular silver alloys different shapes, silver is a widely used material in earrings. A great example of this is Icecartel’s Square Layered Stud Earrings.
White Gold Maintenance
One of the key reasons why white gold is getting more popular day by day is its easy-to-maintain nature. If you get white gold ornaments with rhodium plating, very minimum maintenance will be required. White gold without rhodium plating, however, will need regular care.
Silver alloys need more attention and maintenance than fine silver. If your silver jewelry doesn’t have fine silver, you should clean and polish it on a regular basis to avoid wear and tear.
White Gold Price
The price of white gold depends on the purity of gold present in the alloy. White gold alloy with higher karat will cost more. At times, the other materials can influence the price of white gold too. For example, white gold with nickel alloy costs more than zinc alloy. In general, white gold costs more than silver.
Fine silver costs more than silver alloys, including sterling silver. Overall, silver is much cheaper than white gold.
White Gold Allergies
You don’t have to worry about allergies while wearing white gold ornaments if they don’t have any nickel in them. It’s a different story if they do. Nickel is responsible for one of the most common metal allergies. Before purchasing a white gold accessory, make sure you are not allergic.
Silver and its most common alloys don’t cause allergic reactions as none of these alloys contain any nickel in them.
Investing in White Gold
White gold is not as popular as regular gold for investing in them. However, it’s not really a very bad idea. White gold jewelry with a high percentage of gold can have great resale value.
Investing in Silver
If you are thinking of investing in silver, you should invest in fine silver instead of silver alloys. Silver’s price has almost increased by 60% over the last five years.
White Gold and Silver: Which One to Choose
From our comparison, one may think that it’s very straightforward to choose white gold over silver, but that’s not the case. There are multiple factors you need to consider. Even though white gold may look more attractive than silver, you need to pay significantly more for good quality white gold jewelry. Budget is an issue for many, and this is where silver comes on top.
Another very important factor to consider is allergic reactions. Silver will not cause you any allergic reactions, but white gold may. And for most of the other factors, white gold comes out on top. If budget and allergy are not your concerns, you should go for white gold jewelry.
No matter what type of jewelry you choose, make sure to purchase from reputed jewelers. Otherwise, your expensive jewelry might disappoint you. Icecartel is a rising star in the jewelry industry with tons of positive reviews. Have a look at our collection of white gold and silver jewelry!
Before you purchase any jewelry, you should consider all the aspects, not just the base metal it comes with. White gold and sterling silver are usually used to make the base, and most pieces of jewelry are incomplete without gemstones. White gold or silver, no matter which one is your preferred choice, make sure you get great looking, high-quality gemstones.
When it comes to gemstones, very few can match the elegance and quality of Icecartel’s moissanite diamonds. Icecartel’s moissanite diamonds are not only beautiful but also ethically produced. On top of that, our jewelry costs significantly less than traditional diamond ornaments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can one distinguish white gold from silver just by looking at them?
Yes, it is possible to distinguish white gold from silver just by looking at them, but one needs to have a good eye for that. White gold and silver may look very identical, but if you closely look at them, white gold tends to have more sparkle than silver.
Can I wear white gold and silver jewelry together?
Of course, you can! In fact, it is more common than you think. Due to their similarities in looks, white gold and silver jewelry can make great pairings. There are tons of ornaments in the market that have both white gold and silver content in them. It is a combination that even jewelers love!
Is white gold more precious than silver?
Unless the percentage of gold used in the white gold alloy in question is very low, white gold is indeed more precious than silver. That’s why they are a much better investment for the long term.