Comparing rose gold and white gold is a bit like comparing red roses and white tulips. Both offer a beautiful, classic aesthetic, as well as plenty of luxury and confidence. Likewise, many people may simply be drawn to one versus the other due to their personal taste.
But these are also two very distinct materials—and depending on their attributes, one may be more compatible with your lifestyle and needs than the other. So, what are the differences between rose gold vs. white gold jewelry, and which one is right for you?
In this guide, we’ll talk about the key differences between the two metals, including price, trendiness, and longevity. We’ll also dive into wear and care and detail their pros and cons to help you better understand which is right for you.
White Gold and Rose Gold: It’s All About the Alloys
First, let’s talk about what makes both white gold and rose gold jewelry pieces so uniquely lovely. Here, they share a common factor—neither is made of pure gold. Instead, they are both alloys, or mixtures of gold and some other precious metal.
The exact composition of the two options is where they diverge:
- Rose gold is a gold alloy that is typically made up of 75% pure gold and takes its rosy hue from a combination of copper and occasionally silver.
- White gold, on the other hand, is another gold alloy that is made up of pure gold plus lighter-colored metals like palladium, nickel, or manganese. It takes its brilliant radiance from a plating of rhodium, a metal that is white in tone and extremely durable.
White gold is a relative newcomer on the jewelry scene, with its origins in the nineteenth century. However, rose gold has gone in and out of fashion since ancient times. In fact, it was extremely popular among the Nahuange people, who rocked this tinted metal about 2000 years ago in the area we now know as Colombia.
The Cost of Rose Gold vs White Gold
So far, the main differences we’ve discussed are the gold color and composition. But how do the two metals compare in price?
As with many precious metals, the price of either white gold or rose gold can vary substantially depending on their caratage.
Pure gold has 24 carats, whereas an alloy made up of 75% gold is 18 carats. While both white gold and rose gold varieties can come in alloys with as few as 9 carats, in the United States, the minimum standard for gold is 10 carats.
While price depends on the purity of the gold included in the alloy, it also depends on the value of the other metals included. Copper is usually less expensive than the metals included in white gold. For this reason, rose gold at the same caratage as white gold is often a slightly more affordable option.
When you consider cost alongside lifetime value, however, the gap between the two widens even more.
How Long Will Rose Gold or White Gold Jewelry Last?
Gold alloys were created because pure gold is too soft for regular wear. Fortunately, this means both white gold and rose gold have a leg up on yellow gold in terms of durability.
Let’s see how these options stack up:
- Rose gold – Rose gold is particularly strong and can be worn every day. It also becomes more reliable the lower you go in caratage. That’s because lower caratage indicates a greater percentage of copper, which increases the metal’s strength.
- White gold – Does white gold tarnish? It does not. However, while the rhodium plating on white gold jewelry is also very tough, it can eventually wear down with use and requires re-plating every year or so. If you’re comfortable with the required maintenance, however, you can wear your white gold necklaces and other jewelry pieces every day.
Of course, how long your diamond alternative jewelry will look fabulous as time passes is also in the eye of the beholder and current trends. White gold has been gaining in popularity for almost half a century, particularly when used for white gold engagement rings.
While rose gold jewelry is often harder to come by thanks to its singular hue, it has seen an explosion in popularity over the last ten years. This is particularly true for delicate white gold bracelets, earrings and necklaces.
Caring for Rose or White Gold
Wondering how to clean white gold and rose gold? If longevity is your goal, there are a few occasions when it may not benefit you to wear either metal. These include:
- In the shower
- In the pool
- While handling other metals (for white gold)
- While handling or swimming in salt water (for rose gold)
As a rule of thumb, any kind of water is a no-go for both types of metal. That’s because the longevity of your jewelry can be greatly affected by the buildup of minerals and impurities in water.
Rose gold of lower quality can tarnish and, as mentioned, rhodium plating can rub off over time. For at-home care, a simple cleaning solution of baking soda and warm water is an effective way to remove most impurities.
White Gold vs Rose Gold: Which Is Better?
In the battle between white gold vs rose gold, which metal wins out? While personal preference is certainly a factor, we’ve provided a handy pros and cons chart below to help you assess their qualities and drawbacks as a whole:
|White Gold||Extremely Durable||Regular maintenance required|
|Popular option for diamond engagement rings||Not hypoallergenic|
|Rose Gold||More affordable||Copper can irritate sensitive skin|
|Vintage look and feel||Lower quality rose gold may tarnish|
|Durable and scratch-resistant||Often harder to find|
Find Your Perfect Jewelry Piece with Diamond Nexus
Whatever option captures your heart, your jewelry pieces should reflect your unique sensibility and style. If you’re looking for a stunning rose gold or white gold piece, Diamond Nexus has an array of quality options for every aesthetic and price point.
Learn more about our lifetime and one-year guarantees or browse our collection online and find the freedom to choose the engagement ring, wedding ring, or jewelry that represents you.
Thought Co. Composition of Gold Alloys in Colored Gold Jewelry. https://www.thoughtco.com/composition-of-gold-alloys-608016
Live Science. Rose Gold Jewelry Was All the Rage with Ancient Colombians. https://www.livescience.com/60535-ancient-colombians-preferred-rose-gold.html
Owlcation. Understanding Gold Purity: 9K, 10K, 14K, 18K, 22K, and 24K. https://owlcation.com/misc/Understanding-Gold-Purity
Jewelry Shopping Guide. 12 Things You Need to Know About Rhodium Plating (updated 2021). https://www.jewelryshoppingguide.com/everything-about-rhodium-plating/
World Gold Council. About Gold Jewellery. https://www.gold.org/about-gold/about-gold-jewellery