The Foundry Journal

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The Foundry Journal

Eco Jewelry Conundrum: Platinum vs. White Gold

August 6, 2015

In the News

Style Guide

Eco Jewelry Conundrum: Platinum vs. White Gold

August 6, 2015

Diamond Industry

Eco Jewelry Conundrum: Platinum vs. White Gold

August 6, 2015 BY Alon Ben-Shoshan IN Style Guide

So, you’ve decided to buy eco jewelry. That’s great. Not only are lab created diamonds more sustainable, but recycled metals are another environmentally friendly option. Buying jewelry made of recycled metals helps reduce the devastating effects of mining, and many of our award winning independent jewelry designers chose to craft with it. However, if you’re pale as the moon, you really have two metals to chose from – recycled white gold or recycled platinum.

White Gold Klimt

Gustav Klimt’s model, Adele Bloch Bauer, didn’t realize that yellow gold just wasn’t her color.

Platinum and white gold are hugely popular alternatives to yellow gold. They’re so popular, that they’ve actually outstripped yellow gold in terms of popularity. Even among those with life-like skin pigmentation! While platinum and white gold are certainly similar, there are some chief differences that you might consider before choosing between them.

Color

Platinum is naturally white – that’s why silvery white hair dye is almost inevitably called “platinum” at hair salons. It will never fade to yellow no matter how long you wear it. Gold, however, is naturally yellow. White gold, while it has the same gold content as yellow gold, uses different alloys than yellow gold. Recycled white gold is generally made by combining gold with palladium and silver to achieve a silvery hue. Over time, white gold will fade back to yellow and you will have to re-polish and re-plate it.

Cost

Platinum costs more than white gold, in part, because there is less of it. As explained in a previous blog post, 1,500 tons of gold are mined annually, compared with only 160 tons of platinum. Platinum, moreover, as it is used in jewelry, contains 90-95% pure platinum. Anything less is called a “platinum alloy.” Recycled platinum may go through a longer refining process, but it must contain the same amount of pure platinum as non-recycled. Both white gold and yellow gold only contain 58% gold and 42% other metals because soft, natural gold must be hardened before it can be used in design. Hence, with platinum, you’re paying for 37% more in precious metal. Furthermore, platinum manipulation demands special tools and higher expertise than white gold, and therefore costs more in labor.

Durability

Although white gold requires re-plating, it generally maintains its “shininess” longer than platinum, which will appear dull over time. Moreover, since platinum is so malleable, it tends to bend more easily than white gold. This generally affects the prongs that hold the gems in place. If your platinum ring receives a direct hit, the prongs can bend in different directions to redistribute pressure. Gold, on the other hand, is more likely to chip. 

There’s no clear winner between white gold and platinum. Both are valuable, expensive metals with a beautiful silvery hue. One last thing to consider might be the hypoallergenic value of platinum over white gold, as the alloys used in white gold can cause adverse reactions in some. For more information about white gold, platinum and other metal alternatives, check out our metal guide. To learn more about the benefits of recycled metals, check out Ethical Metalsmiths

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