The Eternal Question: Platinum or White Gold?

by Andy Moquin - Date: 2010-10-25 - Word Count: 1514 Share This!

Every man has to contemplate this question before taking the plunge into engagement. Some guys simply don't care and go for the cheaper alternative. There are some serious differences that guys should think over before choosing one over the other. Often times, particularly on the internet, there are a million different conflicting stories about one metal over the other. This is generally the result of common people writing about subjects they have little knowledge or experience in, confusion, untrained sales people or a pushy attempt from a sales person to chose one over the other (often times more towards platinum than white gold because of the price difference). Unfortunately, this makes it unnecessarily difficult for men to choose one or the other. In all honesty, from a professional viewpoint, platinum is hands down the better way to go, but only if it's in your budge. There are some secrets that are rarely discussed in large jewelry chain stores that can leave people high and dry that will be discussed here in detail.

First things first. We made a heavy statement by suggesting that platinum is the best way to go. Now we've got to back it up. Platinum is most known for three specific characteristics: it is pure, rare and eternal.

Pure: Platinum, in terms of jewelry, is usually 95% pure, but variations can include 90% and 99% pure. You'll know this by the stamp inside the ring as it says either .950, .900, .999, PLAT or PLATINUM. Its pureness lends itself particularly to people with sensitive skin as it is naturally hypoallergenic. This means that, unlike the alloys found in white gold and other metals, the wearer will not experience an allergic reaction and can wear their ring comfortably for the rest of their life without risk of rash or irritation. Moreover, platinum is naturally white and does not react with air, so your jewelry will always remain as white as the first day you purchased it.

Rare: People need to stop with the weird comparisons and funky statistics when discussing the rarity of platinum. Here it is, plain and simple: Platinum is 30x more rare than gold. And here's an easy analogy: If you were to put all of the platinum in the entire world into an Olympic sized swimming pool, it would come up to your ankles. If you did the same thing for gold, it would fill the pool three times over. Platinum's rarity can explain part of the price difference between itself and gold.

Eternal: Platinum is extremely dense, making it more durable than other jewelry metals. In comparison, platinum is about 40% heavier than 18k gold and 60% heavier than 14k gold. Platinum does not change shape or wear away after years of use. Platinum does scratch, just like any other metal, but when it does, no metal is lost but is just merely displaced. When gold scratches, the metal is actually lost. This explains why gold rings need new half-shanks after a few years of use, while platinum rings do not. Many people feel at ease using platinum because they know their precious and sentimental stones are held firmly and securely.

Now that you know a little about platinum, it's time for some schooling in gold. But wait! Here's the secret we were talking about earlier: there is another alternative metal with benefits of platinum, but without the price. Read on…

Not a new metal, but new to the market, palladium has been making quite a debut.
Palladium was discovered in 1803 by William Wollaston who named it after the asteroid Pallas. Palladium, like platinum, is part of the Platinum Metals Group. This group includes platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, osmium, and ruthenium. Palladium is the least dense of all the metals in the group. In terms of their chemical properties, the PGM metals are highly resistant to tarnish and wear.

Palladium, like platinum, is also naturally white, but with more of a steel-white hue to it. It will not tarnish but instead will remain its natural white color, eliminating any need for rhodium plating as would be needed with white gold. Moreover, it is casted in similar purities to that of platinum. That is, most palladium jewelry is either 90%, or 95% pure and will be stamped .900, .950 or PALD. This means that palladium is also hypoallergenic, and will not cause skin reactions that may experienced with the alloys of gold. Palladium is also very durable, in that it is a harder metal than gold. This means that it will be more resistant to scratching, and may be ideal for a woman that is looking for more maintenance-free pieces.

If you do choose palladium, you need to make sure that whatever jeweler you go to has the knowledge and experience of working with the metal. In terms of jewelry usage, palladium is a rather new metal that not many jewelers have experience working with. Although palladium won't tarnish with air, it may discolor at higher soldering temperatures. You want to make sure that your jeweler is comfortable working with your ring to avoid discoloring or other damage when they set your stone or resize it.
And the wonder of it all? You get the benefits of platinum, but the price tag of white gold. Dew jewelers would be willing to divulge this information, but we feel its necessary to provide consumers with the best and most complete knowledge available to be fully comfortable with their jewelry decisions.

Platinum v. Palladium v. Gold

Gold has been a precious metal to man since early recorded history. Gold makes a stunning appearance for Egyptians, is eaten up by modern India and tends to hold monetary value for world currency still to this day. Gold is a soft, shiny and dense metal that is the most malleable and ductile pure metal known. To prove a point, gold can be beaten thin enough to become translucent. Chemically, it is unaffected by air, moisture and most corrosive agents, making is very suitable for jewelry and coins.

Gold is broken down into karats, most notable 24k, 22k, 18k, 14k and 10k, but can clearly be made in any karat desired. Today's societies, however, have certain restrictions on the amount of gold that must be in a piece of jewelry before it can be deemed sellable. The United States prohibits any less than 10k gold. However, other countries utilize 9 and 8k gold. 24k gold represents pure, 100% gold. 22k gold is 91%, 18k is 75%, 14k is 58% and 10k is 48% gold that is mixed with other alloys such as nickel and copper. Usually, 24k gold is not suitable for jewelry because it is much too soft to maintain shape without damage.

Gold is harder than platinum, meaning that it is harder to scratch than platinum, but whereas platinum will not wear away when scratched, gold will. This also means that gold tends to be more brittle, and cannot withstand major prong bending or movement without snapping. Yellow gold, in itself, has fewer maintenance costs associated with it because it won't change color. White gold, on the other hand , is another story.

For one, there is no such thing as white gold. White gold is merely yellow gold mixed with nickel or other white alloys. In its natural state, when mixed, white gold is a beige color. To give it the maximum whiteness that you'd see in jewelry stores, white gold pieces have been rhodium plated. Rhodium is a liquid metal in the Platinum Metals Group that adheres to the white gold to give it the crisp white color. However, that plating wears away after about 6 months to 1 year of use, particularly on rings, depending on usage. Women who wear their rings every day, and who are not conscious about what they may ding or bang them on will experience a yellow tint in their rings quicker than women who do not wear their rings every day and remove them when engaging in rigorous activities. Re-plating the ring is usually about a 20-30 minute process, depending on the complexity of the ring, and should cost no more than $50.

White gold is also always less expensive than platinum, and tends to meet more budgets than does platinum. Because of the costs of maintenance on white gold pieces, it is important to choose a jewelry who stands behind their products with inclusive warranties that you should have to pay for. Building a good relationship with your jeweler is important as well, as they can help you better understand each metal better and help you decide which one will better meet your needs.

The bottom line: Every man has a different budget, different needs and different wants. Because purchasing an engagement ring is one of the biggest purchases in your life, you need to make sure you understand every aspect of the process, including choosing which metal will best suit your needs. Please take the time to consider each pro and con about each metal before hastily making a decision. Knowing you took the time to select the perfect ring for your girlfriend will resonate for a long time.

Andy Moquin is an experienced jewelry veteran, he has spent over 20 years designing wedding rings, engagement rings, and custom jewelry. After selling more than $30,000,000 in diamonds he now spends most of his time educating consumers, you can visit his website at Wedding Rings Engagementn
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