Platinum vs. White Gold: All Differences Explained

Trying to pick between platinum vs. white gold can be daunting, especially when it comes to important jewelry purchases like engagement rings and wedding bands. While white gold and platinum look very similar, there’s more to each one than meets the eye.

So what are the differences? Is platinum better than white gold, or is it the other way around? Read on to learn more about these two precious metals, and decide for yourself!

What’s the Difference Between Platinum and White Gold?

Set of platinum wedding rings
Platinum wedding bands

There are several important differences between platinum and white gold, but this is the biggest one:

  • Platinum is a naturally white metal.
  • White gold is a manufactured alloy (mixture) of yellow gold and other metals.

What we call “white gold” doesn’t exist in nature. All the golds apart from yellow gold (e.g. rose gold, black gold) are not naturally colored. White gold alloys are created by combining pure yellow gold with white metals that hide its yellow color – just as copper is added to yellow gold to create rose gold.

Palladium, zinc, and nickel are some of the white-colored metals commonly used to produce white gold alloys. They also make white gold a harder and more durable metal than pure gold.

Platinum is already silver-white in its natural state. However, most platinum jewelry is made from alloys of platinum and other white metals – usually iridium, ruthenium, or cobalt.

This is because, like pure yellow gold, pure platinum is a soft metal. Alloys make for more durable metals and more practical jewelry.

Do White Gold and Platinum Look the Same?

White gold bridal set
White gold wedding rings

No. Although they are very similar in appearance, white gold and platinum don’t look exactly the same.

All white gold alloys contain yellow gold. Although yellow gold is mostly masked by white metals, white gold alloys can still have a yellow or beige tinge.

The more pure gold used in an alloy, the yellower it appears. 18 karat white gold, which is 75% yellow gold, appears less white than 14 karat white gold, which is only 58.3% yellow gold.

Platinum alloys appear whiter than white gold alloys, because they contain only white metals.

Is Platinum Shinier Than White Gold?

Rhodium-plated engagement ring with bezel setting
Rhodium-plated engagement ring

Yes. Platinum and white gold are nearly equal in terms of shine, but platinum is slightly shinier because it’s whiter, and white is the color that reflects the most light.

However, keep in mind that polished metals shine more than unpolished metals. If you put newly polished white gold rings next to dull, scuffed platinum rings, the white gold rings will appear shinier.

Another consideration is that white gold jewelry is often plated with rhodium, which is an extremely lustrous white metal from the platinum family. Rhodium plating makes white gold rings appear brighter and shinier than platinum rings.

Is Platinum Stronger Than White Gold?

Diamond and platinum jewellery set
Platinum diamond jewelry set

Yes and no. The answer depends both on how we define “stronger” in the context of this question.

If by “stronger” we mean “more durable”, then platinum is the most durable metal that’s commonly used to make fine jewelry. Its greater durability means that a platinum piece of jewelry will wear down more slowly than a white gold one.

Platinum is also less malleable than white gold, making it less likely to get bent out of shape. This makes it an excellent option for diamond engagement ring settings, as it reduces the risk of the prongs bending loose and dropping the center stone.

However, if by “stronger” we mean “harder”, then white gold’s greater hardness means it’s more resistant to getting scratched and dented.

This may come as a surprise, if you remember learning in high school chemistry that gold is a soft metal. But while it’s true that pure gold is very soft, white gold is not pure gold.

Gold jewelry of any color (yellow, white, or rose gold) usually contains no higher than 75% gold (18 karats) or 58.3% gold (14 karats). The rest is other, harder metals.

On the other hand, platinum alloys are often 95% pure, leaving only 5% for harder metals. This is why they are softer than gold alloys.

Does Platinum Scratch More Easily Than White Gold?

Two wedding bands on a rock
White gold wedding bands

Yes, platinum is more susceptible to scratching than white gold. However, there are some caveats to consider.

When platinum scratches, the metal is displaced – in other words, it gets shifted around the surface of the jewelry. This means if you have a scratched platinum engagement ring, the displaced metal can be polished back into place.

However, when white gold gets scratched, the metal comes off the surface of the jewelry. These scratches can be polished out, but the scratched-off metal remains lost forever. That’s why gold rings actually become smaller over time, as their metal content slowly reduces as a consequence of daily wear and tear.

This doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker if you have your heart set on a white gold engagement ring or wedding band. The amount of metal you’ll lose to scratches is minuscule, and could take decades to become noticeable. But it’s worth knowing, so you can make an informed decision between platinum vs. white gold.

Something else worth knowing: if you let your platinum ring accumulate scratches and dents through wear and tear, it will develop something called platinum patina. This matte finish can impart an “antique look” which is desired by some people. To keep this natural patina at bay, you will need take your ring for annual polishing.

But if you want a shiny finish that’s easier to maintain over time, then white gold could be the right choice for you. This is especially true if your white gold has rhodium plating, which both makes it shinier and gives it extra protection from scratching.

How Can You Tell the Difference Between Platinum vs. White Gold?

Platinum diamond bracelet
Platinum diamond bracelet

If you’re comparing platinum rings with white gold rings that don’t have rhodium plating, then you might be able to see a subtle difference in color. White gold and platinum are both silver-white, but white gold carries a hint of yellow or beige.

But if the white gold does have rhodium plating, then visually telling the difference becomes much harder. Being from the same platinum metals group, platinum and rhodium are very similar in appearance.

How else can you tell the difference? Let’s say you have a platinum ring, and a white gold ring of the same size. The platinum ring will feel heavier in your hand, because platinum is much denser than gold – in fact, platinum is the third-densest precious metal in the world. (The other two metals are osmium and iridium, in case you’re wondering.)

Another way to differentiate between white gold vs. platinum fine jewelry is to look at quality stamps. These are marks that are often stamped on pieces of jewelry, to disclose the types and amounts of precious metals used to make them.

If jewelry is made from platinum, then its quality stamp should read Platinum, Plat, or Pt. This is usually accompanied by a number which states the amount used in parts per thousand. For example, Plat 950 means that the jewelry is made from an alloy of 950 parts platinum and 50 parts other metals.

If the jewelry is made from white gold, then its quality stamp might feature Karat, Kt, or K. For example, 14 Kt on a piece made from 14 karat gold. Other common stamps for gold are .750 and .583, which respectively indicate 18 karat gold (75% gold purity) and 14 karat gold (58.3% gold purity).

If all else fails, then you can take your jewelry for assessment by a professional. A trained jeweler will be able to distinguish between white gold vs. platinum.

Is Platinum More Expensive Than White Gold?

Two poured platinum bars
Pure platinum poured bars

Yes and no.

As of January 2022, the commodities market price of gold ($1,800 USD per ounce) is currently about 80% higher than the price of platinum ($1,010 USD per ounce).

But while pure gold is more expensive than pure platinum, jewelry made from platinum is actually more expensive than jewelry made from gold!

Why is this? There are several contributing factors.

  • Purity. In terms of precious metal purity, platinum alloys are among the purest precious metals, typically measuring in at 95% pure platinum. Gold alloys used for jewelry are significantly less pure, with 18 karat gold containing 75% and 14 karat gold containing only 58.3% pure gold.
  • Density. Platinum is heavier than gold, and precious metals are sold by weight. Meaning you’d need to spend more on how much metal is needed for making a platinum ring than for making the same ring from gold.
  • Rarity. Platinum is about 30 times rarer than gold. Not only that, it’s much more difficult and expensive to extract from the ground.
  • Workability. Platinum is slightly less malleable than gold, and also has an extremely high melting point compared to gold. This makes it more challenging to work with, so the cost of workmanship goes up.

Together, these factors make platinum more expensive than white gold – or any color of gold, for that matter.

Does Platinum Tarnish More Than White Gold?

White gold bracelet and ring set
White gold bracelet and ring set

No. Platinum jewelry doesn’t tarnish – but white gold jewelry doesn’t really tarnish, either. At least, not unless its gold content is very low.

Metals tarnish due to oxidation. This occurs when a metal chemically reacts with oxygen, producing a thin layer of corrosion on its surface.

However, platinum and gold are both noble metals, which have extremely high resistance to oxidation. You can leave pure platinum and pure gold out in the air, heat, humidity, or even underwater, and they won’t tarnish.

Because platinum jewelry is usually 95% pure platinum, it almost never tarnishes. It helps that the other metals in platinum alloys are often also noble metals – for example, iridium and ruthenium.

White gold jewelry that is 14 karats (58.3% pure) or above is also mostly resistant to tarnish. But go any lower, and your jewelry will be at risk due to the tarnishable metals often found in white gold alloys – for example, nickel and zinc.

Jewelry with rhodium plating has additional protection against tarnishing, as rhodium is a noble metal.

As chlorine is an oxidizing agent, it also reacts with base (non-noble) metals to cause tarnishing. Which is why you should also take off your jewelry before you go swimming in either a pool or the ocean. The water in swimming pools is chlorinated, and seawater also contains chlorine ions.

Sulfur is another cause of tarnish in metals. Be careful of personal care products such as deodorants and hairsprays, as these often contain sulfates and sulfites (which are derived from sulfur).

Is Platinum Safer To Wear Than White Gold?

Platinum diamond earrings
Platinum diamond earrings

Yes, platinum is better than white gold if you have sensitive skin. Platinum jewelry is always made from hypoallergenic metal, while white gold jewelry is only sometimes made from hypoallergenic metals.

The issue is nickel, which is used to whiten and harden some white gold alloys. Nickel in jewelry is a common cause of contact dermatitis. If you are allergic to nickel, you may experience contact dermatitis symptoms from wearing nickel-containing jewelry. These can include rash, itchiness, and dry, scaly, or blistered skin.

It’s estimated that around 17% of women and 3% of men have a nickel allergy. Whether white gold is safe for daily wear depends on how much nickel it contains, and how severe a person’s allergic reaction to it is.

18 karat white gold isn’t likely to cause most people problems. This karatage contains 75% pure gold content, and gold is hypoallergenic. Even if some of the remaining 25% content is nickel, it probably won’t be enough to trigger contact dermatitis in most people.

14 karat white gold is also usually safe for everyday wear. But if you know or suspect you have a nickel allergy, then make sure the jewelry is nickel-free before you wear it, or choose something made from a purer metal.

Lower karatages of white gold are the ones most likely to contain higher levels of nickel, so anything 10 karats and below is safest avoided, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Since nickel allergies can develop later in life for some people, this is good advice even if you’ve worn nickel-containing jewelry in the past without issue.

Should I Get a White Gold or Platinum Engagement Ring?

Solitaire engagement ring on finger
Solitaire engagement ring on finger

In the white gold vs. platinum debate, this is probably the most common question asked. Is white gold better for an engagement ring, or should you choose platinum?

Each of these two precious metals has its own pros and cons, so it really comes down to which one most appeals to you personally. You should try on several pieces in each metal, in order to get a sense of how the ring feels, looks, compliments your skin tone, suits your personality, and other considerations.

Here’s a quick rundown of the facts about each, to help you decide on the perfect choice for you.

Platinum Engagement Rings

  • A less popular metal than white gold for engagement rings
  • More durable and less likely to get bent out of shape
  • Heavier, purer metal; more expensive than gold
  • A platinum setting holds gemstones more securely
  • High upkeep; scratches easily and develops platinum patina
  • Naturally white without needing rhodium plating
  • Less workable; resizing and repairing is more costly
  • Hypoallergenic all of the time
  • A more rare metal; greater prestige

White Gold Engagement Rings

  • The most popular metal for an engagement ring
  • Harder and less susceptible to getting scratched
  • Lighter metal; more affordable
  • Not entirely white; displays a yellowish tinge unless rhodium-plated
  • Moderate upkeep; rhodium plating needs replacing every 1-2 years
  • Not as good at holding precious stones
  • More workable; easier to have resized or repaired
  • Hypoallergenic some of the time
  • A less rare metal; more options and designs to choose from

If you have your heart set on a white gold diamond engagement ring, but are worried that the delicate prongs may bend and cause your center diamond to fall out, then you might consider getting the best of both worlds: platinum prongs and a scratch-resistant white gold band.

Some jewelers recommend this engagement ring option as a clever compromise between the affordability and hardness of gold, and the reliability and durability of platinum.

Is It Easier to Resell White Gold or Platinum Rings?

Engagement ring in a heart-shaped box
Engagement ring in a heart-shaped box

If you find yourself needing to offload an unwanted engagement ring, it will be easier to sell if it’s made of white gold (the same goes for rose gold and yellow gold, as well).

Platinum rings are harder to sell, and their resale value tends to be less reliable. This because jewelry made from platinum is more expensive, less in demand, and harder to melt down and reuse than jewelry made from gold.

Saying that, it’s definitely possible to resell a platinum ring. You just may need to be more patient to get a good deal. An online marketplace, a jewelry shop, a pawn shop, or a scrap metal shop are good places to start.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end! We hope you found this post about white gold vs. platinum to be useful and enjoyable.

If you’d like to learn more about platinum, then you might enjoy our guide to platinum jewelry. Or if you’d rather know more about gold, then check out our guide to types of gold.