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White Gold vs Yellow Gold - What’s The Difference?

on Oct 28, 2023

In the glittering world of jewelry, gold stands as a sign of prestige, beauty, and affection. However, when it comes to choosing between white gold and yellow gold, many find themselves at a crossroads. Each type of gold has its unique attributes, aesthetic appeal, and implications for wear and care. Whether you're selecting a piece for its stylish versatility or its timeless glow, understanding the differences between white gold and yellow gold is essential in making an informed decision. This comprehensive guide will look into the composition, benefits, drawbacks, and distinctive characteristics of both white gold and yellow gold, helping you determine which metal is the perfect fit for you.

Yellow Gold vs White Gold

What is White Gold?

White gold is a highly sought-after metal for jewelry, offering a sophisticated, timeless elegance. It's particularly popular for wedding bands and engagement rings, providing a contemporary twist on the traditional yellow gold. Its muted silver hue is not only versatile, lending a touch of modernity to any jewelry piece, but it also serves as a perfect backdrop for diamonds and various gemstones, making their colors pop and sparkle increase.

How is White Gold Made?

Creating the perfect piece of white gold jewelry is a detailed process. Unlike its counterpart, yellow gold, white gold is not found naturally. It's an alloy composed of gold and white metals such as nickel, silver, or palladium, which give it its distinctive silver-like appearance.

The gold must first be melted down. Then, the other metals are mixed in, typically in a proportion that leaves the final product being about 75% gold and 25% other metals, for 18k white gold. This combination enhances the gold's durability, making it harder and more scratch-resistant than yellow gold.

👉 Learn more about all gold karats in our article: "Introduction to All Gold Karats: 9k, 10k, 14k, 18k, 22k, and 24k"

However, the natural finish of white gold is not as shiny as one might expect, and it doesn't have the bright silver color most people associate with it. Therefore, white gold jewelry is usually plated with a layer of rhodium, a metal from the platinum family. This plating increases the metal's whiteness and contributes significantly to its resistance to wear and tarnish, producing the shiny, silver-colored finish that many love. Over time, the rhodium coating may wear off, so to maintain the jewelry's appearance, it may need to be re-plated every few years. It's inexpensive but an annoying process.

How is White Gold Made

Advantages of White Gold

White gold holds many advantages that make it a popular choice for various jewelry pieces. It's often more affordable than platinum jewelry, making it accessible for a wider range of budgets while offering a similar aesthetic. Its versatility is unparalleled, easily complementing both contemporary and traditional styles.

One of white gold's significant benefits is its durability. Because it's alloyed with stronger metals like nickel or palladium, it's more robust and more scratch-resistant than yellow gold. This strength makes it an excellent setting for diamonds and other precious stones, as it securely holds them in place.

Additionally, white gold is celebrated for its exceptional harmony with colorless diamonds. The cool metallic sheen enhances the diamond's sparkle, avoiding the yellow tint that can sometimes reflect off yellow gold settings, thereby accentuating the stone's clarity and brilliance.

Disadvantages of White Gold

However, white gold does have its downsides. The most notable is maintenance. To keep its bright sheen and white color, white gold jewelry needs to be re-plated with rhodium every few years, depending on wear and tear. This re-plating process may incur additional costs over time.

Furthermore, because white gold contains other metals (like nickel), it can occasionally cause allergic reactions, particularly in people sensitive to specific alloys. It's important for buyers to be aware of their sensitivities before making a purchase.

Lastly, while its popularity attests to its timeless appeal, some might view white gold as too mainstream. Especially when white gold has become widely popular. For those seeking a unique, distinct piece of jewelry, the prevalence of white gold in the market might be a deterrent. However, its wide acceptance also means it enjoys continual popularity and high resale value.

What is Yellow Gold?

Yellow gold differences from white gold

Yellow gold, the traditionally sought-after metal for jewelry, is gold in its natural shade. This classic gold type is a blend of pure gold and alloy metals like copper and zinc, giving it its signature warmth and strength while maintaining the intrinsic value.

Advantages of Yellow Gold

Choosing yellow gold comes with several benefits. It's considered a safe, time-honored selection for engagement rings, often associated with tradition and timeless beauty. Yellow gold imparts a sense of luxury, giving jewelry a rich, high-end feel. It's renowned for its pure, vibrant hue that stands out among all gold types, providing a rich depth of color that appeals to many.

As it's mostly alloyed with metals that are less likely to cause skin irritations, yellow gold is often the most hypoallergenic choice, suitable for individuals with sensitive skin. Its natural warmth enhances the sparkle and appearance of diamonds, making them pop in contrast, a favored trait for various jewelry pieces.

Disadvantages of Yellow Gold

Despite its allure, yellow gold isn't without its drawbacks. While its rich color looks exquisite, it tends to complement warmer skin tones best, potentially limiting its universal appeal. Without any additional plating, yellow gold is softer and more susceptible to scratches, especially compared to its white and rose counterparts. Regular polishing and careful wear are necessary to maintain its shine and prevent damage.

Another issue is potential corrosion. In very rare circumstances, such as exposure to specific harsh chemicals, yellow gold may tarnish. Though it's less reactive than other metals, it's not completely impervious to wear and tear. Responsible and cautious handling is required to maintain its pristine condition over time.

Differences between White Gold & Yellow Gold

When deciding between white gold and yellow gold, understanding their distinct differences can help you make an informed choice that suits your style and needs. Below, we delve into the primary contrasts between these two popular metals.

Color - The most apparent difference between white gold and yellow gold is their color. White gold, with its silvery hue, offers a brilliant shine and a modern, sophisticated appearance. It complements diamonds beautifully, making them stand out, and works well with various gemstone colors. On the other hand, yellow gold is known for its classic, warm hue that exudes a traditional charm and richness. This timeless color can enhance the natural beauty of many gemstones and offers a stark contrast against a diamond's brilliance.

Allergies - Considering allergies is vital when selecting jewelry. White gold is usually alloyed with nickel, one of the most common causes of metal allergies. If you have sensitive skin, yellow gold might be a safer choice since it's typically alloyed with more hypoallergenic metals like copper and zinc, reducing the risk of skin reactions.

Durability - Both white and yellow gold have their strengths and vulnerabilities. White gold is often rhodium plated, increasing its scratch resistance, and it's slightly harder due to the alloys used. However, it requires re-plating to maintain its lustrous white appearance over time. Yellow gold, while generally considered softer and more prone to scratching, doesn't necessitate a protective coating. It's often more easily reshaped if dented, and it won't lose its intrinsic yellow color. However, higher-karat yellow gold can be quite soft, so if you're active or hard on your jewelry, a lower-karat piece or a white gold option might be more durable for everyday wear.

Which One Should You Get?

1. Consider Your Wardrobe and Accessories: Think about the colors you gravitate towards in your clothing and other accessories. If you wear a lot of cool tones or enjoy silver accessories, white gold may seamlessly fit into your style. If your wardrobe features warmer colors or you have an affinity for vintage style, yellow gold might be your match.

2. Think About Your Lifestyle: Are you someone who uses their hands a lot in their profession, or are you generally active? If yes, consider the durability of white gold, as it may resist wear and tear a bit more due to its rhodium plating. If you're less concerned with scratching and more interested in a hypoallergenic option, yellow gold could be better.

3. Maintenance Requirements: If you're not interested in regular maintenance, yellow gold may be more appealing since it doesn't require re-plating. White gold requires periodic rhodium plating to maintain its sheen, necessitating a bit more commitment to jewelry maintenance.

4. Skin Tone Matters: Sometimes, the decision could come down to what looks better against your skin. White gold tends to complement fairer and rosy skin tones beautifully, while yellow gold can look particularly striking on darker or olive skin tones.

5. Budget Constraints: While the cost for gold jewelry depends significantly on the karat and the design, the additional maintenance cost for white gold (considering the need for re-plating) could be a deciding factor if you're on a tight budget.

6. Future Additions: If you're planning to add more pieces to your collection, think about which metal will be easier for you to match with future purchases.

7. Personal Preference: Ultimately, the best choice is the one that makes you happy. Whether you prefer the contemporary elegance of white gold or the classic warmth of yellow gold, go with what feels right for you.

In the end, both white gold and yellow gold have their unique advantages, and neither is objectively better than the other. It's about what suits your life, your style, and your preferences. Browse our jewelry collection containing both white & yellow gold jewelry!

Questions fréquemment posées

Is White Gold Real Gold?

Yes, white gold is real gold. It's an alloy composed of gold and white metals such as nickel, silver, and palladium, often coated with rhodium for additional strength and brightness. The gold content is measured in karats, similar to yellow gold, ensuring its status as genuine gold. 

Is white gold cheaper than yellow gold?

Pricing can be nuanced. White gold often becomes slightly more expensive than yellow gold, not necessarily because of the gold itself but because of its rhodium plating requirement. This plating enhances white gold's appearance, but it does necessitate periodic renewal, which incurs additional costs.

Is yellow gold out of style?

Not at all. Yellow gold is a timeless choice and continues to be a popular option for all kinds of jewelry, from engagement rings to chain necklaces. Its classic appeal, natural warmth, and vintage connotations keep it in style, and it's especially on-trend with the resurgence of retro and bohemian aesthetics.

Do diamonds look better in white or yellow gold?

The choice between white or yellow gold for diamond settings often comes down to personal preference and diamond color. Generally, colorless diamonds can appear more vibrant against white gold settings, as the white setting emphasizes their clarity and sparkle. However, yellow gold is traditionally admired for its contrast with diamonds and is preferred for its warm, classic appearance. It's also worth noting that near-colorless diamonds can appear more colorless in yellow gold settings, which is beneficial for diamonds with slight coloration.

Final Thoughts

Deciding between white gold and yellow gold is a nuanced preference that hinges on individual style, budget, and maintenance willingness. White gold resonates with those who appreciate a sleek, contemporary aesthetic and don't mind the upkeep of rhodium plating. It holds a particular allure for those seeking a durable, more scratch-resistant, and cost-friendly alternative to platinum while still enjoying a luxurious feel.

On the other hand, yellow gold appeals to the romantics at heart, those who prefer the classic, timeless essence of gold in its most recognized form. It offers a rich warmth and traditional elegance that has been adored for centuries, proving its resilience to fashion trends and time.

Both golds carry the extraordinary versatility to enhance diamond brilliance but do so in unique ways. White gold reflects a diamond's pure sparkle, while yellow gold provides a striking contrast that amplifies a diamond's radiance.

Ultimately, the best choice is the one that resonates most with your personal style, comfort, and peace of mind. Whether you lean towards the modern sophistication of white gold or the classic charm of yellow gold, your selection is bound to add a personal touch to your memorable moments.

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    Auteur : Emma Zerner
    Auteur : Emma Zerner
    Emma Zerner est née à Guelph (Ontario, Canada) et a grandi à Gainesville (Floride). Elle est titulaire d'une licence en commerce de détail de l'université du Minnesota-Twin Cities et d'un diplôme de gemmologue du Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Emma travaille dans le secteur de la bijouterie depuis 2002, en commençant par le commerce de détail. Elle fournit du contenu professionnel sur les bijoux de toutes sortes à de nombreuses sociétés de joaillerie dans le monde entier, en plus des services de gemmologie en personne. Pendant son temps libre, elle a participé à de nombreuses émissions de téléréalité sur de grandes chaînes de télévision, notamment MTV, BRAVO et TLC, pour n'en citer que quelques-unes.
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    Auteur : Emma Zerner
    Auteur : Emma Zerner
    Emma Zerner est née à Guelph (Ontario, Canada) et a grandi à Gainesville (Floride). Elle est titulaire d'une licence en commerce de détail de l'université du Minnesota-Twin Cities et d'un diplôme de gemmologue du Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Emma travaille dans le secteur de la bijouterie depuis 2002, en commençant par le commerce de détail. Elle fournit du contenu professionnel sur les bijoux de toutes sortes à de nombreuses sociétés de joaillerie dans le monde entier, en plus des services de gemmologie en personne. Pendant son temps libre, elle a participé à de nombreuses émissions de téléréalité sur de grandes chaînes de télévision, notamment MTV, BRAVO et TLC, pour n'en citer que quelques-unes.

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