Australia's Oldest Internet Diamond Merchant
Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Twitter! | Follow Us on Twitter Like Us on Facebook!
Email Us | Site Map
Phone: 1800 722 237 (Within Australia)
The Jogia Diamonds name has been synonymous with high quality certified loose diamonds and engagement rings for over thirty years.
Blog » White Gold vs Platinum - What Jewellers Wont Tell You

White Gold vs Platinum - What Jewellers Wont Tell You

Last week I received brochures from both The Platinum Guild and World Gold Council, espousing the benefits of their respective metals. However, during the purchasing process many consumers take advice from a jewellery sales person and end up bereft of any useful facts on the subject.

Gold and Platinum Brochures

Above: World Gold Council and Platinum Guild Brochures

The fact of the matter is, is that both white gold and platinum both have their own unique properties and hence benefits. By and large, many of these are not explained too well to the would be jewellery buyer, but are outlined below.

Hardness vs Malleability???!!!

Two properties of metals that aren’t well understood by the jewellery industry as a whole and jewellery consumers are hardness and malleability. In fact, when I told my own jewellers that platinum was softer than white gold, I received nothing but protests.

Put simply, hardness refers to a metal’s resistance to scratching and denting. A hard metal, just like diamond, the hardest material known, will be resistant to scratches, whilst a soft metal will scratch easily. Malleability refers to how easy a metal is to bend and turn into different shapes without breaking. A malleable metal will bend easily, whilst a brittle metal will not bend easily.

Whilst it may be true that platinum is harder than gold in its purest form, 18kt white gold is mixed with other metals, most commonly palladium, silver and copper to make it harder. This results in 18kt white gold being harder than platinum alloys, which are most commonly 95% platinum.

On the other hand, platinum is more brittle than white gold, and is hard to bend and hammer into shape, which may explain the aforementioned protests from my jewellers.

What the hardness and malleability of white gold and platinum means in real life is that a platinum ring will be easily scratched and dented, but will hold diamonds and other gemstones more securely, as platinum is less prone to bending due to its brittleness. However, to get the best of both worlds, we have been encouraging our clients to buy rings with a platinum setting and a white gold band. This results in a more secure setting for the centre diamond, whilst the white gold band results in less scratches and dents.

Platinum’s softness versus white gold is also the main reason why we don’t recommend platinum for mens’ wedding rings.

Density and Weight

Platinum alloys are about 20% denser than white gold. This results in a ring that feels more substantial, and thus more luxurious, even though it may be very fine.

Price

With the spot price of platinum and gold being very much the same nowadays, many people ask us why platinum is still more expensive that white gold. There are four main reasons for this:

  • Platinum is denser, and thus more material weight is needed to produce the same ring than from white gold.
  • Platinum alloys used in jewellery are purer. Since most platinum alloys are 95% platinum and 18kt white gold is 75% gold, less gold is require to produce an 18kt white gold ring.
  • Platinum is more difficult to work with, and often needs a jeweller with experience to produce a good job. Therefore, the labour cost is roughly 20% more than with white gold.
  • Platinum can not be re-used and re-melted like white gold. Therefore, any scraps and filings must be sent to a refiner which is very expensive.

White Gold Allergies

One of the benefits espoused by The Platinum Guild is that platinum is hypoallergenic. Whilst this is true, so is most 18kt white gold, in Australia at least. Whilst nickel was commonly used to alloy white gold in the past, most manufacturing jewellers in Australia use a palladium based alloy that is free from nickel. However, nickel, being a much cheaper metal than palladium is still used widely overseas, and thus some people may suffer from nickel allergies with imported jewellery.

Colour

One of the myths about white gold is that it is slightly yellow, and thus, requires more maintenance as it needs rhodium plating every year or two.

Again, nickel based alloys are more likely to have a yellow tinge, whilst palladium based alloys are more likely to have a dark grey appearance when compared to platinum, as shown below.

White Gold vs Platinum

Above: White gold and Platinum in square wire form.

Durability

Platinum loses very little weight during day to day wear and indeed, during polishing. Therefore, in theory a platinum ring will last a lot longer without the need for replacing the band. However, a well made ring, whether white gold or platinum should last for generations.

Serviceability

White gold is more widely serviceable than platinum, meaning that more jewellers are able to resize and repair white gold jewellery. In addition to this, platinum’s higher melting temperature pose a risk to gemstones  and diamonds that may get burnt when repairing platinum jewellery. However, modern tools such as laser welders and an experienced platinum jeweller eliminate these problems.

Investment

Since gold is a widely traded asset and investment, gold in both pure and alloy form is a lot easier to sell than platinum. Whilst numerous gold buyers have sprung up in recent times, very few of these buy platinum.

18 Responses to “White Gold vs Platinum - What Jewellers Wont Tell You”

  1. Don Fitzgerald Says:

    This is the first intelligible discussion of white gold and platinum that I have found.

    My son (Ian) and I have bought diamond rings from you in the past and value your advice. I have just bought a beautiful opal stone for my wife’s 80th birthday and I would like to have it set in a pendant in white gold or platinum (preferably platinum). Could you recommend a good jeweller?

    Kind regards
    Don

  2. Nikhil Says:

    Hi Don

    Thanks for you comments.

    Please ring us on 1800 722 237 or 08 9218 9865 so we can recommend a jeweller that is local to you.

  3. Grammar Police With Nothing Better To Do... Says:

    “By enlarge”? Do you think the ring won’t fit? Might not you mean(?):
    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1908/what-is-the-origin-of-by-and-large

  4. Nikhil Says:

    OK, thanks.

  5. Arpol West Says:

    Very descriptive and true, but you can easily remelt platinum or the like by wearing very dark glasses as for oxyacetylene welders operators, then on a crucible without any flux yo use the very center of the torch flame (the hottest area) and melts in seconds!
    Arpol

  6. Nikhil Says:

    Hi Arpol

    The problem isn’t so much in melting, but melting it into something that doesn’t have cracks or filled with porosity. It’s much less headache to send platinum off to the refiner!

  7. Cherie Says:

    Hi Arpol,

    What would you recommend for diamond earrings? Platinum setting with white gold stems?

    Cherie

  8. Nikhil Says:

    Hi Cherie

    Platinum would be good for earrings, but the availability of pre-made Platinum earrings is very limited in Australia.

  9. Cherie Says:

    Thanks for answering Nikhil!

    Cherie

  10. vijay Says:

    Hi
    Is it possible to have a 18kt yellow gold ring with platinum setting securing the diamond?
    Thanks

  11. Nikhil Says:

    Yes, that is no problem.

  12. Boffo Says:

    The problem with the Jewellery Trade is, there are not enough Jewellers working in it. No Jeweller that has completed their trade course would give the wrong information about hardness and malleability as they would understand the structure and characteristics of the metals they use. The Jewellery Trade in Australia principally consists of retailers selling rubbish and this has become increasingly the case since the mid 70’s.

    If you want to buy Jewellery of quality and know that you are getting what your paying for ask to speak to the Jeweller and ask to see their trade papers, any good Jeweller will be happy to oblige.

    So it’s not so much there are things Jewellers don’t want the public to know, it’s more a case of the public dealing with retailers who don’t know. Do yourself a favour and next time you want to purchase good quality Jewellery, seek out a qualified Tradesman / Tradeswoman, after all, you wouldn’t let some backyard plumber or electrician do a couple of grands worth of dodgy work on your home would you?

  13. Arlene Belk Says:

    I wanted to ask, My husband bought me an engagement ring for in 2004. We were told the crown that holds the diamond was made of Platinum because it was stronger and would hold the diamond in place much better than white or yellow gold. One of the prongs bent after 9 years so I took the ring off and placed it in a safe place until I could take it in for repair. We purchased it from Whitehalls in Hickory NC… In 2008 they went out of business. After inquiring about a reputable Jeweler to take the ring to we then gave them the ring. They inspected the ring and I told one of the employees that the crown was made of Platinum and one of the post bent and the diamond fell out. She then took the ring to the back to be inspected by the jeweler. Afterwards she came out and told us it would be $48.00 dollars to repair it and it would take a week to get it back. Two weeks went by and I had not heard from them. I called and she said they were waiting on a new crown to be shipped in. I said what crown… No one told me you were having to replace the crown. She said what no one called you and I said no. She put me on hold and came back and said there would not be any additional charge. Another week and a half went by and nothing so and I called them back and spoke with someone else. He said he was still waiting on the crown but should have it ready by the following week. He said they were waiting on the white gold crown and it had been back ordered. I told him the crown was made of Platinum and he told me no he thought it was made of white gold. He said I can do it in Platinum but it will cost you a 100.00 dollars more on top of what they had already quoted me. He said if the ring was made of Platinum it would have had 18k with a pt inside the band. He then gave me this speech of how much more durable the white gold was to set the the diamond into the crown. I told him we were told Platinum was stronger for holding diamonds in place and he said well someone lied to you that is not so, white gold is stronger. Now I am suppose to pick the ring up tomorrow and am confused. All I cared about was making sure my diamond was secure. We paid over $5.000.00 for just the engagement ring. I am now scared because every thing I am reading it says the Platinum is stronger for holding the diamonds in place. I now don’t know if I trust this company. How do I protect myself and is it true that Platinum is stronger for holding the diamond in place. Also one other question.. Being a Jeweler would he not be able to tell the difference between white gold and Platinum. He said you cannot tell the difference by looking at it. He said to even test it he would have to remove the crown away from the yellow gold band because with them together it would give a false reading.
    Thank You
    Arlene Belk

  14. Nikhil Says:

    Hi Arlene

    Your jeweller is right in saying if it was Platinum, there would be a Platinum stamp or hallmark inside the band, although the original jeweller could have made the fundamental mistake of not stamping it. You can not tell the difference when new between rhodium plated white gold and platinum, but an experienced jeweller should be able to determine the type of metal.

  15. Narelle Haralambous Says:

    Hello there. After only 4 years, a small emerald cut diamond fell out from my eternity ring which is made out of white gold. I noticed that the ring is slightly oval shaped, no longer perfect circle which surprised me, as I am careful with my jewellery. Possible bad workmanship or white gold just not strong enough? Each of the 5 emerald cuts (.20ct) sit horizontal in a line on the top of the ring, and have 4 claws on each.
    This leaves me wondering as I am about to have my white gold engagement ring reset into 3 large emerald cut diamonds!! Thank you…

  16. Nikhil Says:

    Hi Narelle

    It is best to take the ring back to where you bought it.

  17. Jaci Says:

    Hi, I was just wondering if you wear titanium (hardness 6) next to a rhodium plated white gold ring (rhodium is hardness 6 whereas gold is 3) will this cause wear? Also, when people talk of the two metals rubbing and wearing, what kind of time frame are they talking about? Will the rings be significantly damaged within 10 years, say?
    Thanks.
    Jaci

  18. Nikhil Says:

    Hi Jaci

    It really depends on factors such as the design of the two rings and how they are worn. You might want to consult a jeweller and have the two rings soldered or spot welded together.

Leave a Reply