white gold ring with diamonds

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

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White Gold Ring with Diamonds

White gold vs sterling silver is a frequent comparison during jewelry shopping.

They look very similar, yet they are different materials.

Both are alloys of precious metals which have close colors.

White gold is gold alloyed with other metals to make it more harder and whiter.

Many times this white gold alloy is coated with a rhodium layer.

This thin plating gives it a more uniform silvery color and protects the gold from outside effects.

Sterling silver is 92.5% silver. This remaining part is many times copper to make it harder.

Let’s have a closer look at these two metals.

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, pure gold is too soft to be used in jewelry.

This is why we use an alloy which is harder and more durable.

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 this white metal, 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.

For everyday wear, a rhodium plated white gold ring will perform better in terms of durability. It has higher scratch resistance and will keep its form against physical impact to a higher degree.

When the rhodium coating that protects the gold wears off, you simply ask your jeweler for a re-plating and your piece is nice and shiny again!

Also, 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 piece would have less resistance to scratches than a gold ring.

Click here to see white gold jewelry on Amazon.

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 ring on, it may get scratched or get damaged by physical effects like falling garden tools or accidents.

Click here to see Sterling silver jewelry on Amazon.

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.

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 rhodium coating and show its inner color. While sterling is the same metal alloy in and out.

White gold is a harder, more durable jewelry and demands less care than sterling jewelry. Click here to see white gold jewelry on Amazon.

In both cases, for sensitive skin, there should not be any irritation or itching if you make sure the pieces are nickel free.

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.

Related questions

Which is more expensive white gold or silver?

Gold is more expensive than silver.

We would expect a white gold piece to be priced higher than a similar 925 silver version.

Is Sterling Silver 925 worth anything?

Sterling silver 925 is made of real silver.

It is a silver alloy which has 92,5% silver in its composition.

The reason for not using 100% silver is its softness. Pure silver is too soft to be made into jewelry.

Thus we make it into an alloy with other metals in order to make it enough harder.

Is 925 silver good quality?

925 silver is a very widely used standard in jewelry.

It has 92,5% silver.

It carries various stamps showing the material used such as STERLING, SS, 925 SILVER or 0,925.

Is 10k white gold good?

White gold is made of real gold. Regular gold is made into an alloy in order to make it harder and gain a silvery color.

10k or 10 Karat shows the gold percentage in the alloy.

A 10 Karat gold piece has 41,7% gold in its composition.

The remaining part of the alloy comes from cheaper metals making gold harder for jewelry.

Is white gold valuable?

Yes, white gold is a gold alloy. Gold is a precious metal and has been for thousands of years.