Many clients wonder what metal type they should choose when creating or purchasing fine jewelry. It is very important to understand the core characteristics of each metal type to be sure you are making the best decision for your lifestyle!
When it comes to fine jewelry, gold and platinum are most commonly used thanks to their durability and overall quality. Sterling silver, although very affordable and a great choice for certain fashion styles, has proven too soft to set with diamond center stones as it easily wears over time making it a less desirable metal for wedding jewelry.
We will mainly be discussing the core differences between platinum & gold, including a comparison of 14K & 18K rose and yellow gold to help assist you when purchasing all of your pieces.
Gold vs Platinum | Which Should You Choose?
Color & Maintenance
Between platinum and white gold there are slight natural color differences that play a role later on in their maintenance. Platinum is a natural bright white color due to its molecular makeup. White gold is originally as “yellow gold”, the natural pure form of gold, that has a nickel alloy additive to give it a white color. It is then finished with a rhodium plating to maintain its whiteness. Due to materials added, white gold requires more upkeep than platinum. A white gold ring should be dipped and rhodium plated about once a year to maintain its white coloring (A service J. Brooks includes in our lifetime warranty at no additional charge). Rhodium is in the platinum metal family which is why it is used to maintain the coloring on white gold jewelry. This also maintains a more shiny look as white gold is polished more often and is a harder metal than platinum.
Platinum forever maintains its white coloring, it is a pure white metal. Something to consider when choosing the metal for your jewelry is that platinum is a softer metal than gold, so as platinum is worn you will see almost a brush finish occur, referred to as a patina. The patina on platinum rings tends to show much easier than white gold especially on plain metal jewelry. If you prefer a high polished, shiny look, white gold may be a better option as it needs to be polished more often simply due to the need for annual rhodium plating.
Strength & Durability
One core difference between white gold & platinum, is their strength and softness. Platinum is softer and notably more malleable because it is molecularly structured to move. When a jewelry piece made in platinum is hit, the metal moves and bends rather than chipping or breaking as gold reacts. This is due to its malleable characteristics. The metal stays intact when pressure is added which also increases the life span of platinum.
However, in terms of strength platinum is stronger than gold. A platinum crown will last approximately 20 years while a white gold crown will last around 10 years on average. This is mainly due to platinum’s molecular structure. This ultimately allows platinum to last longer because the metal is safer to set gemstones, especially if you are very hard on your jewelry.
When you have an allergy to metal, there are a couple of options to take into consideration. Platinum is one of the best options for those with metal allergies. Platinum of course is a more expensive metal, however due to it’s pure natural properties it does not have multiple alloys mixed in to cause irritation. Solid 24K yellow gold can also be an option because it is also in its pure natural form (with no added alloys) and can be proved useful for those with a metal irritation.
The most common metal irritation can be found with earrings. To help solve this issue, we recommend having earrings made in platinum. However, if you are wanting to keep the cost down or have earrings set in a rose or yellow gold, a platinum earring post can be added to any earring. White gold is not hypoallergenic like platinum, due to its alloy additives, namely nickel. Nickel in particular is typically the most common metal that causes irritation, making platinum the best choice for metal allergies. White gold can also be mixed with palladium as an alternative, which many times is a better hypoallergenic option than nickel for sensitive skin.
White, Yellow & Rose Gold | 14K vs 18K
When comparing the many variations of gold, it is important in understanding the main differences. As mentioned, 24K yellow gold of course is the purest form of gold, which of course explains the yellow coloring. Although a beautifully rich & bright color, 24K gold is a very soft metal. In order to add durability for everyday wear & stone setting, additives such as zinc, nickel, copper, palladium & rhodium are added for strength. To create rose gold in particular, a copper alloy additive is used to create a more brassy and pink colored tone.
10K, 14K, 18K, 20K & 22K gold refers to the purity percentage of gold. The lower the number, the higher the amount of metal additives. For example; 10K contains 41.7% gold, 14K - 58.3%, 18K - 75% and so on. The most commonly used metals for fine jewelry are 14K & 18K as they are the purest form that is durable & safe enough to set gemstones.
The two main differences between 14K & 18K rose & yellow gold is color and durability. 18K rose and yellow gold becomes deeper and richer in color than 14K mainly due to its purity percentage. However, in terms of durability, 18K yellow or rose gold is softer and not as durable as 14K. When selecting the metal type for your fine jewelry, it is important to compare durability, color & value to help understand which metal type is right for you!