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What are the differences between white gold, silver and platinum?

Quelles sont les différences entre l'or blanc, l'argent et le platine ?

More discreet than their yellow or pink brothers, gray or even white metals combine with all stones, dark and light, highlighting them superbly!

Many precious metals used in jewelry have this silvery appearance: white gold, platinum or silver, it is easy to get lost! Don't panic, we are here to guide you. Where do these metals come from? What are their properties? Which one to choose for your next piece of jewelry ? We let you discover the answers to these questions in our article.

White gold, the safe bet

A symbol of elegance and refinement, white gold is a precious metal highly appreciated by artisan jewelers for a very long time!

Ancient Greek coins and Egyptian jewelry have been discovered and turned out to be made of an alloy of gold and silver once called “white gold”. Known today as electrum, which means “brilliant” in ancient Greek, this metal is no longer the white gold used in jewelry. The material we currently know as white gold was created in the 19th century and popularized in the 1920s. It was a cheaper and easier to shape alternative to platinum which was then used for military purposes. .

But concretely, what is 18 carat white gold?

In general, artisans use an alloy of 75% pure gold , 15% palladium and 10% metals such as silver, copper or zinc. This is called white gold. It must then be rhodium-plated to give it that dazzling white color that is so popular: the famous “white gold”. Another way to obtain this metal is to combine 75% pure gold with 25% palladium. This mixture is also known as palladium-plated white gold.

Concerning its characteristics, 18 carat white gold has the same as its golden counterpart. It has incredible hardness and corrosion resistance , not to mention that it is rust-proof and anti-allergenic . It is a very precious and coveted metal! Over the past 20 years, the price of pure gold has generally only increased. In 2005, we were around €10,000 per gold bar, while it passed the €59,000 mark in March 2022! To find out more about gold in general, we advise you to read our article “ What you need to know about gold ”.

How to maintain white gold?

For white gold, signs of wear can appear over time through shine and color: a less intense shine and a less white color. This is completely normal and has nothing to do with the quality of your jewelry ! With time and wear, the rhodium plating layer which gives this “bright white” appearance to your jewelry will fade and reveal the original color of the alloy (slightly yellowish) before rhodium plating. To regain the clear and luminous color of white gold, simply have your jewelry re-rhodium plated by making this request to your jeweler (on average every 2 years when the jewelry is worn frequently).

Platinum, the most precious metal

Platinum is a metal often found on wedding rings and engagement rings. It has thus become a symbol of love and perfection.

Meaning “little money” in Spanish, platinum was discovered a long time ago. From Ancient Egypt, this noble metal was used to decorate sarcophagi, then the Incas used it to make jewelry and adornments. In Europe we discovered it in the 18th century and it quickly became a favorite of royalty.

Today, this material is highly coveted . Whether for the automotive industry, medicine, electronic engineering or even jewelry, everyone wants platinum. However, it is a very rare metal and even rarer than gold : its annual production is between 15 to 20 times smaller than that of its golden rival. Platinum deposits are only found in a few places in the world such as Russia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

What are the characteristics of platinum?

The platinum alloy used is very pure . The 3 legal titles in France are 850‰, 900‰ and 950‰. This last title is the most used in jewelry and means that it is made up of 95% pure platinum. It is sometimes alloyed with palladium, rhodium, iridium or even gold. The major advantage of platinum is that its color is naturally “bright white” and remains intact over time, so there is no need for rhodium plating. It is also a stainless metal , hypoallergenic and corrosion resistant .

In the form of a 950‰ alloy , platinum is slightly more malleable than 18-karat white gold . This makes it more difficult for the craftsman to work with. Its density being higher than gold, it will also take more material to fashion a piece of platinum jewelry. All this affects the final price of the jewelry. For the same design, jewelry finished in platinum will be more expensive than jewelry in 18-carat white gold.

How to take care of your platinum jewelry?

Since the platinum alloy used in jewelry is more malleable than 18-karat white gold, your platinum jewelry may scratch more easily over time. Don't worry, all it takes is a little polishing to give your accessories a new lease of life!

Money, an “accessible” choice

Silver takes its name from the Greek “argós” which means “white” or “luminous”. Unlike gold which symbolizes the Sun, silver is associated with the Moon and femininity. This metal is very popular, and this trend is not new!

From ancient Greece to ancient Egypt via the Aztec community, everyone used this metal to make jewelry or even coins. Today, i is used in the energy and automobile industries, medicine, photography and also jewelry. It is found in its natural state generally in Mexico, Peru and Norway. It is an accessible precious metal due to its attractive price.

How is silver used in jewelry?

Nowadays, artisans use an alloy made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals like copper. This combination is called sterling silver. Although lighter than the previous metals, silver is very often rhodium-plated in order to obtain an even more dazzling appearance but also and above all to protect it because silver oxidizes ! This material is also very malleable and flexible. It is therefore easy to give it the shape you want and to have unique jewelry. However, this also makes it very vulnerable to shocks. It is a much less precious metal than gold or platinum, its price remains on average 100 times cheaper than pure 24 carat gold.

What are the recommendations for maintaining your silver jewelry?

Silver is a metal that requires special attention . First of all, it is important to know that it oxidizes! Although rhodium plating allows it to darken less quickly, silver tarnishes relatively quickly on contact with air. Water and humidity accentuate this phenomenon. For this, it is best to take off your jewelry when washing your hands and store it in a dry place. In addition, as it is a metal that twists easily, it must be avoided as much impact as possible.

A word on the rhodium plating of white gold

As explained previously, white gold is often rhodium-plated (and sometimes silver). But what exactly does that mean?

Rhodium plating is the last step in jewelry design . This is when the accessory will take on this dazzling white color and a protective layer.

What are the different stages of rhodium plating white gold?

First of all, you have to polish the jewelry. This is a crucial step: it allows the jewel to free itself from small scratches which taint its shine. The smoother the jewelry, the longer the protective layer provided by rhodium plating will last. Then, the accessory is immersed in an ultrasonic bath, which eliminates all the small residues that may have settled in the bezel or in corners of the accessory during polishing. Now that the jewelry is clean, the rhodium plating can begin. The jewel will be immersed consecutively in 4 baths: a degreasing bath, rinsing with running water then with dematerialized water and finally the apotheosis. This last bath is where the jewel is dipped in rhodium, a very precious and expensive metal which will serve as a light shield.

We recommend that you repeat this treatment every 2-3 years so that your white gold or silver jewelry retains its shine.

But then, which metal to choose between white gold, silver and platinum?

The answer to this question depends on the use and what you expect from your jewelry. We have put together a summary table to help you in your choice!

Either way, 18-carat white gold and platinum are two perfect metals for precious jewelry that you want to keep for a lifetime!

White gold is a very good compromise between price and quality. You are sure to have a piece of jewelry that will last your entire life without weakening in the face of your daily adventures. We strongly advise you to choose white gold for the jewelry that you care about most and that you plan to wear every day. For your wedding ring or engagement ring , platinum is a great choice too! It is the most precious metal used in jewelry, and requires almost no maintenance (rhodium plating is not necessary), but it is also the most expensive choice! Finally, silver, less precious and too fragile, will be more suitable for costume jewelry that is not set with precious stones.

We hope we were able to answer all your questions! If you still have questions or need advice, do not hesitate to write to us via our contact page , by email or on our Instagram account . We are always happy to be able to guide you in choosing a precious piece of jewelry!