Platinum and 18kt White Gold are the two most commonly used metals for the setting of engagement rings, wedding rings and other pieces of jewellery. Whilst these two metals may have a very similar appearance, they do have unique benefits and proprieties that are very important to compare and consider when deciding upon the choice of metal for your valued piece of jewellery. The main factors to consider is the difference between Platinum and 18 carat White Gold in terms of purity, appearance, weight and comfort during wear, durability, scratching during wear, and of course comparative cost of both metals.
(Left to Right) 18kt White Gold Ring Next to a Platinum Ring after one year of Wear (C) Reve Diamonds
PURITY OF PLATINUM AS COMPARED TO 18kt WHITE GOLD
This first difference between Platinum and 18k White Gold is the most basic and therefore can be considered as the foundation of all the other differences between the two metals. Platinum and 18k White Gold are essentially different metals and have different purity levels.
Platinum is a naturally occurring white metal. It is heavier, harder and rarer than gold. Due to its natural hardness Platinum can be used in a purer form than gold, usually at about 95% – a Platinum hallmark has a fineness of 900 to 950 parts and 5/10% of other alloys.
In comparison 18K White Gold does not exist naturally as it starts out as gold which is of course yellow in colour. White Gold is achieved by an alloy of yellow gold with other white metals such as silver, nickel, zinc or palladium which bleach the deep yellow of pure gold to make it white. The purity of White Gold is determined by the amount of alloy that is mixed with Gold and is expressed in carats (K) as with yellow gold. Hallmarked 18K White Gold has a fineness of 750 parts and 25% of other alloys.
So in comparison for purity of metal, Platinum has a 90/95% purity compared to 75% purity of 18K White Gold. This factor consequently makes Platinum much more expensive than Gold which we will discuss later.
APPEARANCE OF PLATINUM AS COMPARED TO 18 K WHITE GOLD
When the finished article of jewellery made in Platinum and 18K White Gold they are often indistinguishable as both appear whitish grey in colour. However a distinguishing physical characteristic between Platinum and 18K White Gold is the natural colour. Platinum is naturally white. However the white colour of 18K White Gold is created by the addition of alloys to yellow gold and the final white high lustre finish by the addition of rhodium plate, a silvery-white metal. It is the rhodium plating which gives 18K White Gold the white look that makes it look very similar to Platinum to the naked eye. With Platinum, no plating is required as the metal has a unique white, grey colour which becomes greyer over time.
As Platinum is truly white it will always stay white and will not fade to yellow. However with 18K White Gold jewellery whilst rhodium is very white and very hard, eventually it will naturally wear away and fade to show the yellowish tinge of the original gold. Therefore to restore the whiteness and shine of 18K White Gold jeweller it will require rhodium plating again. This process can only be undertaken by a professional jeweller and here at Rêve Diamonds we are pleased to offer our valued customers rhodium plating, polishing and cleaning of their jewellery free for life when required.
THE DIFFERENCE IN WEIGHT BETWEEN PLATINUM AND 18 K WHITE GOLD AND RELATIVE COMFORT WHEN WEARING
Platinum is a much denser metal than 18K White Gold (approximately 20% denser) and thus more material weight is needed to produce the same ring than from white gold. For example a ring with 4mm width of metal and 2mm height will be up to 30% heavier when crafted in Platinum as compared to the same ring made in 18K White Gold in gram weight.
This difference also has an impact upon the comfort of wear. Only individual personal choice can determine if you prefer to wear a heavier weight of ring as some people do find that lighter rings are more comfortable for everyday wear. Of course design can have an influence upon the weight of a ring, but the relative weight of Platinum versus 18 k White Gold should be borne in mind when making a choice between these two metals.
One additional benefit to wearing Platinum jewellery is that it is hypoallergenic. While for most people gold jewellery does not generally create an allergy issue, some can develop an allergic reaction from the nickel alloy used in gold rings. However if 18k White Gold is combined with a palladium based alloy that is free from nickel, allergy issues are avoided
DURABILTY OF PLATINUM COMPARED TO 18 K WHITE GOLD
Both Platinum and 18K White Gold are strong and durable precious metals but of the two, Platinum is undoubtedly the stronger and more durable. This is due to Platinum only containing 5/10% of alloy whereas 18k White Gold requires 25% alloyed metal. The reason for this is that gold as a metal is extremely soft therefore if it was used in its pure form in jewellery, it would quickly and easily bend out of shape. For this reason White Gold has to be mixed with harder alloy metals, to make it more rigid and durable in jewellery. Platinum has a lower alloy requirement and is far denser therefore making it more durable than 18K White Gold.
The implication for this within jewellery design is that Platinum offers a far more secure and robust setting for diamonds and other gemstones than 18K White Gold. For example, the prongs holding the centre stone of a Platinum engagement ring are far less likely to break then those of an 18K White Gold ring.
In addition, Platinum loses very little weight during daily wear and indeed, during polishing. Therefore, in theory a Platinum ring will last a lot longer without the need for replacing the band. However, a well-made ring, whether 18K White Gold or Platinum should last for many years.
THE EASE OF SCRATCHING OF PLATINUM COMPARED TO 18K WHITE GOLD
Platinum has a tighter molecular structure than 18K White Gold enabling a mirror like finish compared to a high finish on the White Gold. Yet whilst Platinum is widely acknowledged as being stronger and more durable it is a softer metal than 18k White Gold. This means that Platinum jewellery will be more prone to getting scratched than a similar item made from 18k White Gold would be.
However it is important to note that when 18k White Gold is scratched, the gold is lost and therefore it clearly looks like a scratch whilst when Platinum is scratched, the Platinum gets moved from one place on the item to another. This develops what is referred to as a ‘patina finish’. A patina finish has the look of an antique or worn piece of jewellery which many people find highly desirable as this gives the item an heirloom feel.
The bonus here is that with professional re-polishing of your jewellery this will help restore the item to near its original look for both Platinum and 18K White Gold and Rêve Diamonds include free lifetime polishing and re-plating so that you never need worry about inevitable snatching.
THE COST OF PLATINUM COMPARED TO 18 K WHITE GOLD
- Platinum jewellery attracts a higher cost than 18K White Gold. There are four main reasons for this:
- Platinum is far rarer than 18K White Gold, has a greater denser of weight and higher level of purity.
Platinum is more difficult to work with as it is less malleable than 18k White Gold and therefore will require a highly experienced jeweller to create a high quality piece from this precious metal. This means that the labour cost is approximately 20% greater than with 18K White Gold.
Platinum cannot be re-used and re-melted like 18K White Gold. Therefore, any scraps and filings must be sent to a refiner which is very expensive.
Platinum jewellery is initially more expensive than 18K White Gold. However, it can be argued that Platinum is more cost effective in the long run because it does not require rhodium plating to keep it white, re-shanking or re-tipping of ring setting prongs.
Platinum jewellery is the ideal choice for long term daily wear. It is the optimal setting for a diamond engagement ring due to its durability and long lasting colour. Platinum will also add brilliance and sparkle to the diamond resulting in a clean, sharp, luxurious look. However, if you still can’t decide between Platinum and 18k White Gold, don’t worry these precious metals are both great options. If your budget allows choose Platinum, if not then 18k White Gold is still a very precious metal and is an excellent choice. If you have any questions on your choice of jewellery metal, please do not hesitate to contact the helpful professional team at Rêve Diamonds who will be happy to answer your questions.