For people who love the look of pure silver or white gold, there’s no denying that both offer a distinguished sort of panache to any piece of jewelry that is very different from other precious metal options like yellow gold.
However, there are pros and cons to each. If you already know which base metal you prefer, then, by all means, go with that. But if you’re still on the fence and aren’t sure which is better, white gold, or silver, then this blog post is for you!
Remember that while both of these metals look similar to the untrained eye, they do differ in some ways.
What Is White Gold Made Of?
White gold is actually a combination of gold alloy and other metals like silver, palladium, and nickel. It’s this unique composition that makes gold harder and less malleable, and it’s also what gives it a white hue. Based on the type of alloy metal used, the individual properties of white gold can differ.
With a high purity level of 75% gold and 25% alloy metal, jewelry made of 18 karat white gold is a popular choice for many. However, white gold engagement ring made of 14 karat white gold, containing 58.3% gold and 41.7% other metals, might be preferred by folks looking for higher levels of durability and affordability.
What Is Silver Made Of?
Silver is a metal you’ll find in almost every jewelry lover’s collection. It’s famous for its unique beauty and affordability, and many people love it because it’s hypoallergenic, depending on what other metals it may be mixed with.
Pure silver is typically a soft metal, which is why it’s often alloyed with copper to make it a perfect fit for jewelry. This mixture of silver and copper is also called sterling silver. Both copper and silver are hypoallergenic, although copper can be prone to tarnishing, which can cause the silver to easily oxidize.
You may find a “925” or “0.925” label on sterling silver, which means it’s made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of another metal. The problem with mixing silver with other metals is that those alloys may not be hypoallergenic. So it really depends on what you’re looking for.
Typically though, silver is mixed with copper to make sterling silver. Due to this non-allergenic composition and easy availability, sterling silver is one of the most prevalent and affordable “white” colored metals available.
White Gold vs Silver—Key Differences
It’s important to understand the differences between white gold and silver in order to make a fully informed decision.
- Durability: If you’re like most jewelry buyers, you probably are looking for a durable metal option—especially if it’s an engagement ring for women or a wedding band. Though white gold is stronger than silver, it’s important to note that its hardness depends on its purity level (karats).
Silver is much more susceptible to scratches and bends due to wear and tear than white gold. So, if you rank durability higher than other determining factors for your choice of metal, white gold outperforms silver without a doubt.
- Cost: When it comes to price, silver is certainly one of the most affordable metals available today. That’s one of the reasons why it’s such a popular choice for costume jewelry. It’s certainly a good choice for the budget-minded since white gold always comes with a heftier price tag.
However, white gold is still an excellent alternative to higher-priced metals like platinum and is a must-buy for those who want a classic piece of jewelry that is kinder on the wallet than higher-priced alternatives.
- Color: Remember that it’s the composition of yellow gold and an alloy metal like nickel that gives gold its white hue. It is then plated with rhodium, which provides it with an elegant, mirrored finish.
As for silver, it carries a grayish-white hue with a swanky gleam to it. This makes it a complementary accompaniment to most gemstones, without overpowering them.
- Maintenance: As with any other type of jewelry piece, both white gold jewelry and silver jewelry call for extra care and maintenance. Although white gold needs a reapplication of rhodium plating after a couple of years to restore its luster, it doesn’t require as much cleaning and care as silver.
However, if you’re allergic to nickel or any other metal that’s been used to make white gold, you may need to get a hypoallergenic coating to avoid a possible allergic reaction.
To care for silver properly, it requires quality polishing and regular care to keep it looking as good as new. Silver jewelry also needs to be stored away from excessive humidity, moisture, and air pollutants to avoid discoloration.
Pros and Cons of White Gold
- Luxurious Appearance: White gold has a luxurious and sophisticated appearance that closely resembles platinum but at a more affordable price.
- Durability: White gold is more durable than silver and less prone to scratches and tarnish.
- Versatility: It pairs well with various gemstones and is a popular choice for engagement and wedding rings due to its classic and timeless appeal.
- Hypoallergenic Options: Many white gold alloys are hypoallergenic, making them suitable for individuals with sensitivities to certain metals.
- Rhodium Plating: White gold jewelry is often coated with rhodium, enhancing its shine and providing additional protection against scratches.
- Maintenance: Over time, the rhodium plating on white gold can wear off, requiring periodic re-plating to maintain its bright white appearance.
- Cost: While more affordable than platinum, white gold is generally more expensive than silver.
- Allergies: Some individuals may be allergic to the nickel present in traditional white gold alloys. However, nickel-free options are available.
Pros and Cons of Silver
- Affordability: Silver is significantly more affordable than white gold, making it an excellent choice for those on a budget.
- Natural Luster: Silver has a natural luster that gives it a timeless and elegant appearance.
- Versatility: Silver is a versatile metal that complements various gemstones and jewelry designs.
- Tarnish Removal: Tarnish on silver can be easily removed using polishing cloths or solutions, restoring its original shine.
- Hypoallergenic Options: Sterling silver, which is alloyed with copper, is generally hypoallergenic and suitable for those with metal sensitivities.
- Tarnish: Silver is prone to tarnishing when exposed to air, moisture, or certain chemicals, requiring regular maintenance.
- Softness: Silver is a relatively soft metal, making it more susceptible to scratches and dents compared to white gold.
- Not Ideal for Daily Wear: While suitable for many types of jewelry, silver may not be the best choice for pieces subjected to extensive wear and tear.
- Sensitivity: Some individuals may experience skin discoloration due to the copper content in sterling silver alloys. However, higher-quality silver alloys with less copper are available to address this issue.
Is White Gold Better Than Silver?
Not really. It all depends on what you’re looking for. Yes, silver is more affordable than white gold, but it ranks lower on the durability scale and requires more care and maintenance to keep it looking its best.
On the other hand, for those sensitive to certain metals, white gold could cause allergies to flare, while silver is usually hypoallergenic—unless unknowingly mixed with an incompatible alloy like nickel.
All things considered, if allergies are a problem for you, silver may be your best choice. It boils down to your lifestyle and personal preferences, coupled with how much you want to spend. There are options available to suit every budget in both white gold and silver, and both make a beautiful, timeless-looking choice. Check out Diamond Nexus to find your perfect white gold or silver piece!
*Here at Diamond Nexus, we strive to provide valuable information while being clear and honest about our products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab created diamond simulate that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a diamond, with two exceptions – it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our blog.