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White Gold vs Silver: All You Need to Know | Linjer Jewelry

If you’re a cool-tone metal jewelry lover, chances are you’ve considered adding both sterling silver and white gold jewelry pieces to your collection. Sterling silver jewelry has been well-loved for centuries. White gold, being a bit newer to the jewelry scene, was created as an affordable alternative to platinum.

While they may look similar at first glance, white gold and silver have their own unique properties that make them popular choices for various types of jewelry. So, let’s explore their individual characteristics and the inherent benefits of both metals!

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Diamond Ring White Gold - Ilse Luxe
14k White Gold Diamond Bar Stud Earrings - Lucia
White Gold vs Silver- Diamond Ring White Gold - Ilse Luxe

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White Gold vs Silver - 14k White Gold Diamond Bar Stud Earrings - Lucia

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Diamond Pave Band White Gold - Miriam
Solitaire Diamond Ring White Gold
White Gold vs Silver - Diamond Pave Band White Gold - Miriam

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White Gold vs Silver - Solitaire Diamond Ring White Gold

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White Gold vs Silver: Color

You might know white gold as the gold that looks like silver. And, it’s true that white gold looks like it belongs with the other naturally white metals—like silver or platinum.

Gold jewelry is a mixture of pure gold and other metals; the difference between yellow and white gold is that the alloyed metals in yellow gold are selected to preserve (as much as possible) the pure gold’s natural yellow-orange coloring, whereas the metals used in white gold are selected to transform gold’s natural color to give it the cool tone that it’s known for.

Why? Well, some people really like the value, durability, and hypoallergenic properties of gold, but they don’t love the warm coloring—maybe it doesn’t bring out their natural glow, or it’s just a personal preference.

Sterling silver, on the other hand, is naturally a white-colored metal, recognized and loved for its crisp, bright color—almost more white than gray, like an icicle on a sunny day.

Untouched white-gold looks a bit warmer than sterling silver—like a soft blush. And, many people are drawn to that unique blend. However, most modern-day white gold jewelry has been plated with rhodium (another white metal related to platinum), in order to give it that fresh silvery tinge—for cool-tone lovers.

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Silver Leaf Ring - Freya
Pearl Drop Earrings Silver - Mathilde
White Gold vs Silver -Silver Leaf Ring - Freya

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White Gold vs Silver - Pearl Drop Earrings Silver - Mathilde

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White Topaz Silver Ring - Ilse
Pearl Huggie Earrings Silver - Kirsten
White Gold vs Silver - White Topaz Silver Ring - Ilse

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White Gold vs Silver - Pearl Huggie Earrings Silver - Kirsten

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White Gold vs Silver: Price

Between sterling silver and white gold, silver is the less expensive option.

Sterling silver is sometimes also labeled 925 silver because it is 925 out of 1000 parts or 92.5% pure silver. The other 7.5% is typically copper. A simple sterling silver ring can be purchased for around $50.

Gold has historically always been the more valuable of the two precious metals: on average anywhere from 10 to 40 times more expensive than silver. Barring other factors, white and yellow gold jewelry of equal karatage sell for the same price. Some factors that will affect the price of gold jewelry pieces include the value of metal alloys the gold is mixed with, the cost of production, the types of gemstones the piece features, and the intricacy of the design… not to mention things like brand name mark-ups. A simple gold band might cost around $200.

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14k White Gold Diamond Stud Earrings 3mm - Aria
Diamond Eternity Ring White Gold
White Gold vs Silver- 14k White Gold Diamond Stud Earrings 3mm - Aria

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White Gold vs Silver - Diamond Eternity Ring White Gold

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14k White Gold Diamond Huggie Earrings - Susanna
14k White Gold Diamond Stud Earrings - Trillium
White Gold vs Silver - 14k White Gold Diamond Huggie Earrings - Susanna

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White Gold vs Silver - 14k White Gold Diamond Stud Earrings - Trillium

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White Gold vs Silver: Scratch Resistance

White gold is typically more scratch resistant than sterling silver because it has a harder and more durable surface. Both pure gold and pure silver have a hardness of 2.5 - 3 on the Mohs scale—so why then is sterling silver more scratch prone?

The reason is that sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, whereas even 18k white gold is at least 25% other metals. Keep in mind that 22k white gold (which would be 91.3% pure gold) isn’t made because it isn’t possible to achieve a white coloring with such a high percentage of pure gold.

White gold is often alloyed with stronger metals like palladium, zinc, and nickel—although nickel is losing preference due to allergy concerns (but not to fret, Linjer’s jewelry is nickel-free!). The specific composition of a white gold alloy depends on the desired color, hardness, and other properties, and may also be regulated by local laws and standards. White gold is also often plated with rhodium, which gives the metal a protective shiny top layer!

So, to recap, sterling silver is more scratch prone because it is almost completely pure silver, and silver is naturally soft. However, this softness can also have some benefits, such as malleability to create delicate designs. White gold is more scratch resistant than sterling silver because it contains at least 25% (if not more) hard alloyed metals, making it more valuable for long-term wear.

White Gold vs Silver - 14k White Gold Diamond Huggie Earrings - Susanna

Silver vs White Gold: Nickel Allergy

Silver jewelry is a great choice for those with sensitive skin due to its hypoallergenic quality, and sterling silver alloy is commonly made with copper, which is also an allergy-friendly metal.

Sterling silver can be made with nickel; however, with nickel’s reputation as an allergen, many jewelry makers are going nickel-free (hint: Linjer!). You can always check to see if the sterling silver you want is labeled nickel-free or hypoallergenic.

Traditionally, nickel is a main component in producing white gold alloy. Invented in the late 1800’s white gold became a popular and more affordable alternative to platinum. If you’re eyeing a piece of white-gold jewelry that was made over 30 years ago, there’s a really good chance that it has nickel in it.

While today, some white gold alloys are still made with nickel, in recent years there has been a growing trend toward using alternative alloying metals in white gold, and many countries have regulations around how much nickel can be used in jewelry. White gold is also commonly plated with rhodium, which serves as a protective barrier, as long as you continue retouching the plating over the years.

On the whole, to be confident that your jewelry is safe for sensitive skin, always check to see if it has a nickel-free label. And, rest assured that at Linjer, all of our jewelry is nickel-free!

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Open Leaf Ring - Ada
Silver Stacking Ring - Liv
White Gold vs Silver Open Leaf Ring - Ada

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White Gold vs Silver - Silver Stacking Ring - Liv

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Hoop Earrings with Pearl Silver - Rebecca
Chunky Silver Hoop Earrings - Jorunn
White Gold vs Silver - Hoop Earrings with Pearl Silver - Rebecca

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White Gold vs Silver - Chunky Silver Hoop Earrings - Jorunn

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White Gold vs Silver: Maintenance and Care

When it comes to jewelry care and maintenance, there is a lot of overlap in the best practices for silver, white gold, and other metals. However, there are a few metal-specific differences.

General Jewelry Care Best Practices: For more in-depth tips check out Linjer’s everyday jewelry care guide and material-specific jewelry cleaning guide. In the meantime, here’s a helpful summary.

  • Storage: a soft surface in a dry area of your home is always a safe bet. Keep metals separate to avoid scratching. Check out Linjer’s chic Traveling Jewelry Case.
  • Putting it on: Put your jewelry on last. This will keep it safe from exposure to make-up, perfume, and abrasive clothing.
  • Taking it off: You know the drill :) Remove jewelry before swimming, bathing, or exercising: Exposure to chlorine, salt water, and sweat can cause discoloration and damage to your jewelry.
  • Clean and polish: Clean your jewelry regularly with mild bar soap and warm water or just with a dry cloth if the piece features porous gemstones. Be sure to dry it immediately afterward, and polish with a metal-specific solution. And, consider having your jewelry professionally cleaned and polished every so often.

Believe it or not, wearing your jewelry regularly can actually keep it in better condition by preventing discoloration and damage, as the oils from your skin help protect the metal.

Silver Jewelry Care

Silver is known to tarnish, a reaction with sulfur-containing compounds in the air, which forms a dark layer of silver sulfide on the surface of the metal. Keep your silver jewelry in a glimmering condition by keeping it away from moisture, applying a thin layer of anti-tarnish solution or a protective coating, polishing your pieces regularly with silver-specific polish.

Sterling silver is also a very soft metal, so be careful with layering and storing. Try not to let your silver jewelry brush against other hard metals and surfaces.

White Gold vs Silver - Pearl Huggie Earrings - Kirsten

White Gold Specific Jewelry Care

White gold requires a bit of extra maintenance in comparison to yellow gold in order to maintain its color.

If your white gold is coated in rhodium, the best thing you can do is follow the best practices for everyday jewelry care and retouch the rhodium plating as it wears down; this will protect the white gold alloy interior.

If your white gold piece doesn’t have a rhodium coating, it’s especially important to keep it dry, clean, and polished. White gold with a high nickel content is especially prone to tarnishing. You can use mild soap and warm water to clean your gold jewelry on a regular basis.

Finally, use a good polish specially designed for white gold to maintain its optimum shine, AND keep in mind that there are polishes for both rhodium-plated white gold and non-rhodium-plated white gold, each with its own specific composition.

White Gold vs Silver - Solitaire Diamond Ring White Gold

White Gold vs Silver: Usage and Lifestyle

Silver and white gold have distinctive benefits in terms of daily and personal preference that may affect your choice of metal for jewelry. Jewelry enthusiasts will want to consider color, value, and longevity.

Silver is quite soft, which makes it more prone to marks and dents, but also makes it easier to shape and better suited to certain designs. Because it’s on the soft side, some shy away from silver for everyday wear; nevertheless, there are some great reasons to consider sterling silver jewelry for your everyday looks.

Sterling silver is hypoallergenic; people with sensitive skin can wear sterling silver all day, every day without any negative effects. Silver is a luxury-quality precious metal, yet it comes with a more accessible price tag that makes it easier to build an everyday silver jewelry collection. And, for daily use, it's best to use your mid-range value pieces, while pulling out your more expensive pieces on special occasions. Finally, silver has a clear, crisp hue that some find incomparable.

White gold, on the other hand, is a stronger and more durable metal than silver. It easily withstands the wear and tear of daily use, and, in that sense, it’s also a good choice for everyday pieces such as rings and bracelets.

Still, with a steeper price point, it may be more difficult to build up a collection of white gold pieces for daily use, and, of course, you might not want to risk your more valuable white gold pieces by wearing them out every day. And then there’s coloring. Rhodium-plated white gold is much more “white” than non-plated white gold, (but still a bit more “grey” than the clear, bright color of silver). Non-coated white gold has a warmer “blush” coloring that distinguishes it from a true white metal. Still, some people love the special blend of untouched white gold.

Ultimately, the choice between silver and white gold comes down to personal preference, budget, and lifestyle. Both metals have their own unique characteristics and benefits, and it's totally okay to choose the metal that best suits your needs and style.

White Gold vs Silver - Diamond Pave Band White Gold - Miriam

Is White Gold or Silver Better for Sensitive Skin?

When choosing between white gold and silver with sensitive skin in mind, it all comes down to the alloy. Both silver and gold are prized for being hypoallergenic; if you have sensitive skin, you can’t make a better choice.

But, of course, no jewelry is 100% pure silver or gold. In that sense, sterling silver is the safer choice in the absence of full alloy details. Because sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver and is usually mixed with copper, the likelihood of an allergic reaction is low.

Because nickel, a metal commonly associated with allergic reactions, is traditionally used to make white gold, it’s better to take some extra precautions with white gold. Either look for nickel-free white gold pieces or make sure to maintain their protective rhodium plating.

P.S. Linjer’s sterling silver jewelry and white gold jewelry are both 100% nickel-free so both options are completely safe for those with sensitive skin.

Is White Gold or Silver a Better Investment for Fine Jewelry?

Making the decision to invest in silver or white gold jewelry is a personal matter; it depends on what best suits your jewelry collection. In practical terms, the value of silver and white gold can fluctuate based on a number of factors, including supply and demand, economic conditions, and changes in the market.

The value of white gold will depend on how karats it comprises: it goes without saying, 18k white gold is worth more than 14k white gold. And, gold (white or yellow) holds more intrinsic value than silver. Throughout history, the price of gold has been anywhere from 10 to 40 times the price of silver.

While it may not have the same intrinsic value as gold or platinum, silver still holds significant value as a precious metal. It’s a valuable investment and a more affordable option!

Is White Gold Better Than Silver?

The choice between gold and silver is personal and totally subjective: neither metal is better than the other. Some factors you’ll want to take into consideration include intended use, coloring, durability, and cost. White gold is appreciated for its value as a precious metal and its durability, as well as its stunning, unique color when untouched. Silver is also well beloved as a precious metal, safe for sensitive skin, and portrays a gorgeously crisp tone, not to mention a friendly pricing tier.

Both white gold and silver can be beautiful and long-lasting when cared for properly. At Linjer, we’re committed to offering timeless, luxury-quality jewelry at accessible prices. Take a peek at our stunning Sterling Silver Collection and 14k solid gold collection!

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