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What’s the difference between silver and white gold?

Difference Between Silver and White Gold

White gold is a mixture of pure yellow gold and other white metals, to give it a brilliant white appearance similar to silver. This is often coated with a metal called Rhodium to strengthen and give it an extra shine and long lasting quality. Sterling Silver, on the other hand, is pure silver that’s mixed with copper to make jewelry and has a shiny white look like white gold. This is a budget-friendly alternative to white gold, although it does need polishing more frequently.

The choice between white gold and silver isn’t as clear cut as it once was. Many buyers today are choosing the beautiful look of silver even when they can afford gold, and others who thought they couldn’t afford gold are choosing the pure, shiny gloss that only white gold can offer.

A lot of people actually wonder what the difference is between silver and white gold. Due to their similar looks, it’s obviously tough to tell the difference between the two materials at first glance. They're so similar, it's possible think they are the same thing, or made of similar materials, when this could not be further from the truth! It’s important to weigh out the pros and cons of white gold vs. silver before deciding between the two.

What’s silver made of?

Silver is a shiny, white precious metal that's often mixed with copper when making jewelry, also known as sterling silver. Mixing pure silver with other materials gives it the strength to ensure it won't be too soft to create beautiful jewelry pieces. Sterling Silver is the least expensive of the white metals. It's usually stamped "925," which means 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals.

What’s white gold made of?

White gold is created by combining pure gold and a white metal such as nickel or palladium, which gives the unique shiny white look to the regular gold. Many people have concerns about whether white gold or silver products contain nickel, since it’s such a common source of sensitivity. Nickel is the main metal people are allergic to, and jewelry that contains this can be very irritating to the skin and cause itchy and painful reactions. It’s important to ensure that if you have sensitivities to nickel, that any piece of jewelry you buy will be nickel-free.

There is a material called Rhodium, which is a precious metal often used for plating white gold jewelry, because of its beautiful finish and sets off the white gold beautifully. The Rhodium plating is a great addition to the white gold; however this finish does wear off over time and require re-plating occasionally.

How to tell the difference between the two:

SilverWhite Gold
Has a very shiny and lustrous finishHas a beautiful mirror-like white shine, from its Rhodium plating
Is an affordable and beautiful budget-friendly alternativeIs a great choice if you have a higher budget and want a fine quality material
Substantially lower price than white goldConsidered an investment, since it’s a very high quality and damage-resistant material
Tends to be much softer than white gold and can change shape over timeHas a more durable, hard finish that’s able to hold more intricate details
Silver also shines brightly when new; however this will need to be cleaned more frequently to maintain its lustrous look, because it often tarnishes
*10 tested methods on how to clean your silver jewelry
Stays shiny for a long time, needs re-plating with Rhodium every couple years or so

How do I decide on white gold or silver?

One of the biggest differences, when you’re weighing white gold or silver, is clearly the price. Silver is a much cheaper material, and is quite beautiful if you are on a budget and looking for quality elegant sterling silver jewelry. White gold costs $23.86 per gram, while sterling silver costs only $0.59 per gram. So when you’re making the difficult decision between white gold vs. silver, cost is definitely a major deciding factor for most people. But you might be surprised by a beautiful piece of white gold jewelry you absolutely adore. And while it might be a stretch to afford gold, it's definitely worth the higher price tag for white gold to invest in a lasting, beautiful quality piece.

At the end of the day, whether you choose white gold or silver, knowing and considering these different characteristics of these two metals will help you decide which option is going to give you the gorgeous piece of jewelry you’ll be proud to wear and enjoy for a lifetime.

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