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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 rhodium.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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. 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.