a piece of white gold jewelry next to a piece of silver jewelry

What is the Difference Between Silver and White Gold?

Although sterling silver may look just like white gold, the truth of the matter is that there is a crucial and distinct difference between the two precious metals. If you were wondering why white gold is sold for more than silver—even though they look pretty much the same—read on.

White gold behaves differently than silver does

For one thing, silver tends to be harder than white gold. This means that, while they may look the same, the silver is more difficult to use when a jeweler is making precision engravings. Frequently rings, brooches, and other items of jewelry are crafted with names or messages engraved inside them. It is difficult for jewelers to pull this off with silver, so they turn to white gold.

a piece of white gold jewelry next to a piece of silver jewelry

In addition, silver, as you know, can tarnish over time. If you look at a piece made from antique sterling silver, you can easily see the need for polishing to remove the tarnish. On the other hand, gold does not tarnish. So, for a piece of jewelry that will never need to be polished, white gold is the metal of choice.

White gold and silver are composed of different elements

While this might seem so obvious as to not even need noting, the fact of the matter is that white gold is composed primarily of, well, gold. Gold is inherently more costly than silver.

What we call white gold is actually a mixture of gold and other metals. Because the core element is gold, by extension it makes sense that white gold would be more costly than silver.

White gold is very easy on the skin. Some people tend to have a reaction when wearing jewelry made out of anything other than gold. While white gold is not pure gold, it is composed of a large enough percentage of gold to make it usable by people such as this. Further, while some people may experience some skin discoloration from silver (or other) jewelry, white gold will leave no such discoloration. Because of this, white gold is ideal for use by people with sensitive skin or allergies to some other types of metals.

Should you choose silver or white gold?

So then, which one is better? The answer is that it depends. Silver does have some applications where it would be preferred. Remember, silver tends to be harder than gold, so it holds up better to the wear and tear of everyday use. On the other hand, because white gold is composed of gold, it is more costly and has the positive attributes of regular gold.

If you are in the market to purchase jewelry, the determination of whether you want silver or white gold will really depend on your personal needs. If you tend to have sensitive skin, it’s a no-brainer that you would choose white gold. Likewise, if you are not very thrilled about having to polish your jewelry, it’s best to steer clear of silver.

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