Platinum and White gold are visually very similar, but distinctly different types of metal. The first thing to consider when deciding whether to opt for platinum or white-gold is the cost. Platinum is around 20 times rarer than gold and is more expensive to mine and process. It is also used in almost its pure form (95%) so not only is it more expensive per gram than gold, but you need more of it!
The Main Differences
At first glance, these two metals may look similar but here are some of the major differences. First of all, Platinum is more valuable than white gold so you should expect that pieces of jewellery made from platinum are more expensive than those made from white gold.
There is no such thing as White Gold!
Some people don’t realize is that there is no such thing as “white gold.” All metals exist in nature as various shades of grey with the exception of gold and copper. To make gold “white” it is alloyed with other metals such as nickel or palladium to bleach it. Some of these metals can react to the human skin and irritate. On the other hand, because platinum jewellery is so pure it is also less chemically reactive and less likely to cause irritation to the skin like white gold.
Platinum is also far more dense compared to gold which means that platinum is heavier and feels more luxurious to the touch while white gold is lightweight in comparison. You can easily identify platinum and white gold based on their weight difference.
Platinum has a natural white colour whereas white gold is tinted yellow and the majority of white gold jewellery you see in stores will be rhodium plated to give it the mirror like finish you expect. However when this plating wears off, white gold’s colour will revert to its natural yellow tint so will often require re-plating every 3-4 years depending on wear and tear
Hardness vs Malleability
Whilst it is true that platinum is harder than gold in its purest form, because white gold is alloyed (mixed) with other metals it actually makes it harder. Platinum is also more brittle than white gold, which means its harder to bend and hammer into shape. Hardness refers to a metal’s resistance to scratches or denting, whilst a soft metal will scratch and dent relatively easily, a hard metal will resist scratching. Malleability refers to how easy it is to bend and shape the metal without breaking it. The more malleable a metal is, the easier it will bend.
A platinum ring will therefore be more easily scratched than gold but will hold diamonds and other gemstones more securely, because platinum is less prone to bending due to its brittleness. The scratches on a platinum ring actually build up over time to form what is called the patina.
Platinum is more durable than white gold and does not wear away or tarnish and is not susceptible to corrosion or breakage. On the other hand, white gold is susceptible to wear and the rhodium plating will wear off over time. When you scratch white gold, part of the metal is scratched-off also, but with platinum, scratches can be removed through polishing and buffing without degrading the integrity of the metal.
Because of these characteristics, platinum is a low maintenance metal while white gold requires meticulous cleaning and re-plating. So if you are on the market looking for jewellery, always remember that platinum is heavier and more durable but more expensive and White gold on the other hand is lighter and cheaper but is less durable over time. Not only is platinum more expensive per gram than white gold, but also with its heavier weight it means the overall gram weight of a piece will approximately be doubled, thus giving a huge price difference between the two.