What are the differences between 10k white gold and sterling silver?

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White Gold Ring with Diamonds

In our day, the jewelry world is in an abundance of choices.

Small or large, in every color and price, you can find the piece you did and did not imagine!

That’s wonderful but sometimes it gets a little puzzling when colors and weights are very close and prices differ greatly.

One common case is having to choose between 10k white gold vs sterling silver ring.

They look the same.

However, they are completely different materials.

Let’s first remember what are these two materials and then look at their main differences.

What is sterling silver?

Silver is a wonderful lustrous precious metal.

Unfortunately, it is too soft for jewelry.

That’s why we use sterling silver, an alloy of silver.

Sterling silver is a silver alloy which has 92,5% purity. The remaining 7,5% consists of a cheaper metal which is often copper.

This additional metal makes the alloy harder.

Now, it is suitable for household items such as flatware, silver utensils, pens, watches and of course jewelry.

Silver earrings in the shape of human eyes with multi-colored semi-precious stones

What is white gold?

Just like silver, gold is too soft to be used in its pure form for jewelry.

This is why we use an alloy of gold.

Many different gold alloys are used in jewelry.

Yellow gold, rose and white gold are widely used for every imaginable jewelry piece.

What is 10k white gold?

To produce white gold, gold is alloyed with a “white” colored metal such as silver or platinum.

This alloy is often coated with rhodium.

This coating brings even more hardness and makes the last touch for a durable jewelry piece.

10k white gold jewelry is a piece which has 41,67% gold in the gold alloy.

men's silver bracelet

men’s silver bracelet

Sterling silver may tarnish

Silver has a beautiful shiny look, but unfortunately it is prone to tarnish.

Moreover, sterling silver has a greater tendency to tarnish because of the added metal.

This metal is most commonly copper, which oxides easily.

Tarnish is enhanced in humidity and in the presence of chemical agents.

On the other side, white gold does not tarnish.

It keeps its shine for a longer time.

Even so, it may change color.

The primary cause is the loss of rhodium plating over the gold alloy.

As this plating is very thin, it may diminish slowly by friction and chemical effects.

It may get to rub off and then the color of the inner alloy becomes seen.

White gold earrings

White gold earrings

White gold is a harder more durable material than sterling silver

Sterling silver is softer than white gold.

This means that it is more likely that it may get scratched easier than white gold.

Say, you have your pieces inside a jewelry box, and you did not put them in small pouches or zip bags.

In this case, a sterling item would have less resistance to scratches.

Sterling silver jewelry demands more care than white gold jewelry

As sterling is a softer material, you must be more careful wearing it.

For example, when doing house cleaning or garden work, it would be better not wearing those pieces.

If you have your sterling jewelry on, it may get scratched or get damaged by physical effects like falling garden tools or accidents.

Sterling silver jewelry will also demand more cleaning work from your part.


White gold ring with diamonds

White gold ring with diamonds

Keep your jewelry clean for the next use

After taking your jewelry off, it is always a good idea to wipe it with a soft cloth to make it ready the following time.

Furthermore, you may want to keep your precious items in separate pouches or transparent plastic bags.

By this way, you will cut the air flow and avoid agents in the air from reaching your jewelry.

Plus, you will prevent jewelry items from scratching each other in your box or drawer.

All these precautions are more important for your sterling silver jewelry than they are for white gold items.

Silver ring with blue stone

White gold jewelry is usually more expensive than sterling silver jewelry

Gold is more expensive than silver.

That means for the same weight of precious metal, the gold one will have a higher price tag.

Nevertheless, both sterling silver and white gold are alloys of silver and gold respectively.

This means they have other metals in their structure.

While rhodium is also an expensive metal, other metals are cheaper than silver or gold.

So generally speaking, it is a high probability that the white gold piece will have a greater price than the sterling silver one.

Of course, there are many factors commanding price, such as supply and demand, design, brand, etc.

Thus, price is something that varies.

Be aware of allergenic effects: Stay away from nickel alloys

Some people have allergies to metals.

Most of the time, the allergenic factor is nickel in the alloy.

For both sterling silver and white gold, if there is nickel in the alloy, there might be undesired results.

To avoid any itches and other unwanted effects, choose nickel-free jewelry.

This is valid for both sterling silver and white gold.

Although, we must note that there is no guarantee than even nickel-free jewelry will not cause allergies.

However, choosing jewelry pieces, which do not contain nickel, is a good move.

White gold set of wedding ring with wood part and engagement ring

White gold set of wedding ring with wood part and engagement ring


Sterling silver and white gold both have their pros and cons.

Sterling silver is open to tarnish, but white gold is not.

Unfortunately, with time, white gold may lose its coating and show its inner color.

White gold is a harder, more durable jewelry and demands less care than sterling jewelry.

In both cases, you should have no irritation or itching if you make sure there is no nickel used in the alloys.

White gold is probably going to be more expensive, every other factor being equal. But there are always good deals somewhere!

Another metal white gold is compared is palladium. For a palladium vs white gold, you may read this post.