Argentium Silver vs Rhodium Plated White Gold: Pros & Cons

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Argentium silver is a young alloy often compared to rhodium plated white gold with its shine and brightness.

It is an evolution from the traditional sterling silver jewelry, a staple in every collection.

The latter has 92.5% silver purity, while argentium’s 2 versions, 940 and 960 both surpass it.

Argentium silver has a small percentage of germanium in its mixture. This makes it less reactive than traditional 925 silver.

It has high tarnish resistance, a whiter color, antibacterial and hypoallergenic properties and a firestain-free surface.

In the other corner, white gold is a mixture of gold, copper and other metals used to whiten its look.

And of course, the price gets lower as the addition increases. For example, 18k white gold which is 75% pure gold is more expensive than 14k white gold which has 58.3% purity.

It’s typically plated with rhodium to give it a uniform white sheen.

While this requires an additional operation, this layer will protect the gold core.

Additionally, it will ensure peace of mind for people with sensitive skin as it cuts contact with the inner alloy through a hypoallergenic coating.

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Argentium silver has more shine and luster than rhodium plated white gold

In color tests, performed according the CIELAB color model, Argentium silver has outperformed platinum, rhodium, palladium, 18k white gold, and, the traditional sterling silver.

The color of argentium silver is whiter than white gold.

These tests have been conducted using a device named colorimeter. The brightness is measured from dark to light scale using an index. And the whiteness is measured by a yellowness index ranging from blue to yellow.

You may check the results in graph form on page 3 of this pdf document.

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Rhodium plated white gold is harder and more durable than Argentium silver

The process of plating white gold with rhodium creates a protective layer which is harder and more durable than the inner core. This plating also adds luster and shine to the jewelry.

Rhodium’s hardness receives a 6 grade on the Mohs Scale of hardness. While this is definitely not ruby or diamond level, it belongs to the upper half of metals. These two gems top the scale with 9 and 10 levels of hardness, respectively.

The hardness of white gold ranges from 2.5 to 3.5 on the Mohs scale. This means that white gold is softer than the similar looking precious metals platinum and palladium, which range from 4 to 4.75 on the Mohs scale of hardness.

The upside of white gold’s softness is that it enables making many jewelry pieces with various details like rings, earrings or necklaces.

On the downside, it is not the most durable metal that can endure everyday wear and tear. It is akin to 925 silver in this regard.

It is not the best choice for adrenalin – fueled outdoor activities. It is not a fan of friction and contact with other, harder pieces like stainless steel rings or tungsten carbide bracelets in your jewelry box.

This is why rhodium plating is a game changer.

That thin layer of rhodium protects the core and increases durability significantly.

A rhodium plated white gold ring will not get scratched as easily as a non-plated piece does over time.

This is because rhodium has a 6 grade on the Mohs scale. This is basically twice the hardness of white gold.

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Argentium silver vs Rhodium plated : which one is hypoallergenic?

Both alloys are hypoallergenic.

Rhodium is a pure hypoallergenic metal, that is primarily used as a coating for jewelry. It is very hard and durable. It has a high luster. Thus, it is a good choice for making skin – friendly bling.

Argentium silver is a hypoallergenic alternative to white gold, sterling silver or platinum. It does not contain nickel, which many people are allergic to.

Both argentium alloys, 940 and 960, are nickel-free. Thus, they are considered safe for jewelry.

Check this post for more on hypoallergenic metals for jewelry.

Is argentium silver more expensive than rhodium plated white gold jewelry?

This is tricky.

It is not possible to give a definite answer because many factors come into play. Gemstones, amount of metals used, brand, designer fame, availability, collection limits all find themselves in the price tag.

Yet, this can not prevent us from doing our best!

Gold and silver are the most well – known popular metals. Where, in terms of price, 1 oz of pure gold is approximately 80 times 1 ounce of fine silver. Of course, this is a rounded value, and the ratio varies with market fluctuations. You may check the actual Gold/Silver ratio on this page.

You may think rhodium is much cheaper. However, again at the time of writing, it costs nearly 10 times gold!

Again, these are not set in stone and prices fluctuate with supply and demand in the market.

Probably, the most practical method is to check prices of similar designed jewelry at a large retailer like Amazon to get an actual idea.

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Does argentium silver demand more care than white gold jewelry?

Argentium silver does not require more care than white gold jewelry.

Argentium jewelry should not be worn in chlorinated water or swimming pools. A simple habit which will elongate every jewelry’s life.

It has high tarnish resistance. Unlike sterling silver, you do not need to pay more attention to keep it away from humidity.

It does not rust or corrode.

On the other hand, rhodium plated white gold is harder and more durable.

Yet, it is ductile. The protection is only valid as long as the coating remains intact.

When the rhodium layer wears off, the inner gold alloy will come into daylight.

This contact with the skin may initiate skin allergies if the inner gold core contains metals like nickel or lead.

Happily, a re-plating session will suffice to restore the initial luster of your white gold piece.

Argentium does not have a coating, thus no problems related to it disappering!

It is the same metal alloy in and out.

To summarize, we may say they are about equal in care and maintenance as rhodium plating is more durable, yet its ductility is a weakness. One day, white gold will ask for re-plating when it wears off.

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Conclusion

Argentium silver can be seen as the high performance version of sterling silver.

Forget the latter’s cons and add some intriguing qualities, that’s argentium.

It is hypoallergenic by design: it is always nickel-free. That means peace of mind for people with hypersensitivity.

Argentium silver does not tarnish like sterling silver. Moreover, it does not require plating to achieve this effect. It has high corrosion resistance. That means much less care and maintenance than sterling.

In all versions, argentium has a higher silver purity than 925 silver.

Argentium silver will not turn your fingers green, as with some cheaper alloys.

While argentium accomplishes all these benefits, it does not need an extra coating as rhodium plated white gold does!

Nothing to take away from the king of metals, rhodium plating has been traditionally used as a coating for jewelry, especially wedding rings.

This increases luster and grants a fuller appearance.

The coating also reduces any possibility of skin allergy. It does not diminish the risk completely because the hypoallergenic rhodium plating can wear off over time.

This will expose the underlying white metal. And if there are even trace amounts of nickel or lead in the alloy, they might cause skin irritation.

The good news is: this is not an end but a short break on the road.

A re-plating session will suffice to restore your rhodium plating and take your pieces back to the glory shiny days!

Pricewise, gold with its expensive plating might be more expensive, but these are all subject to market conditions and should be checked before buying.

Care and maintenance is a section where both argentium and rhodium plated white gold are toe to toe.

Rhodium may be more durable but it wears off. And someone has to put it in back in shape!

Both argentium silver and rhodium plated white gold are popular good choices for jewelry. They show similar shine and luster while offering a hypoallergenic piece. At the end, the answer will come to your personal choice.

In any case, we hope you enjoy your wonderful lustrous bling!