Platinum vs. White Gold
10 Reasons Why Platinum is better than White Gold
All the gold in the world would roughly fill a 30-story skyscraper. All the platinum ever found would barely fill just one floor of that building. An ounce of platinum currently costs practically the same as an ounce of gold. Between the year 2010 and 2013, platinum prices were actually lower than the prices of gold! Use your brain.
- Platinum Is 30 times more rare than gold
- Platinum jewelry is noble - preferred by royals everywhere
- Platinum is naturally white, white gold requires repeated plating to stay white
- Platinum jewelry is hypoallergenic, nickel white gold is toxic
- Platinum jewelry is 95% pure, white gold contains only 75%- 58.5% of gold
- Platinum is harder than white gold - 220-230 on Vicker's scale
- Platinum is self-burnishing - puny gold will shed it's skin
- Platinum is more valuable than white gold
- Platinum is denser than gold, giving it a solid feel
- Platinum will hold a stone more securely
King of Metals, Metal of Kings
Platinum is truly an eternal metal. Its purity symbolizes the purity of marriage. Its color is neutral - no need to worry about matching the right colors. Platinum is almost twice as dense as gold, it feels heavier and more substantial. In plain wedding bands, heavier is actually good. No, you don’t need to be a bodybuilder to lift your hand, but you will enjoy feeling the constant presence of the piece. White gold is not a metal of choice when it comes to handmade jewelry.
White gold was created as a platinum substitute when platinum use in jewelry was restricted during the war. During WWII, the use of platinum for non-war related applications was prohibited. As a result, white gold became the only non-tarnishing white metal available.
Platinum is closely related to five other metals; palladium, ruthenium, rhodium, osmium, and iridium. Together these six are known as the platinum group metals. They all have somewhat similar chemical and mechanical properties. Platinum possesses very good mechanical properties for jewelry. It is strong and highly durable. It is ideal for setting colorless diamonds - there is no color transfer from the metal to the stone.
Platinum, unlike gold, is a self burnishing metal. During its wear, platinum is not lost, but gold jewelry is constantly shedding layer after layer. Aged platinum has a dignified, noble look, unlike the cheap-looking yellowing white gold. Once the platinum surface is uniformly scratched and dented, it settles into a stable state best described as “shabby chic” look. It somewhat resembles an old but brightly shined silverware, a glistening bright surface punctuated by microscopic dings.
Not So White Gold
In comparison to regular yellow gold, white gold looks grey, but next to platinum a distinct yellowish tint is obvious. To hide it, virtually all white gold jewelry and watches are rhodium plated. Rhodium is a white metal similar to chromium in color. Coating the surface with rhodium produces an unnaturally white finish resembling a plastic imitation of chromed metal.
White gold is not really white, it has a yellowish tint that is masked by covering (plating, dipping) it with a thin layer of a metal called rhodium. Rhodium has a bright, almost unnatural, easily recognizable white color. After a while, plating will wear off to reveal the underlying surface of the gold - yellow and dark in comparison to the whiteness of the peeling rhodium.
Platinum, in contrast, does not require any plating. A well polished platinum surface is brightly white. Unenlightened jewelers who are not accustomed to selling platinum jewelry still insist on "dipping" platinum pieces.
Purity of a virgin
In jewelry, platinum is mixed with other metals to form ALLOYS. Typically platinum is alloyed with ruthenium, iridium, palladium, rhodium, copper, osmium or titanium. Platinum has often been described as the purest, or the most precious, metal. This is because a standard platinum alloy contains 95% of pure platinum as opposed to the 75% pure gold in an 18 KARAT gold alloy.
A gold color depends on the balance of metals with which gold is mixed (alloyed). For example, pink (rose) gold is achieved by increasing the copper content. Green shades are achieved by adding more silver. In order to bleach gold of it's natural yellow color, metals such as nickel or palladium are used. A Palladium alloy is the only type of alloy that should be used in jewelry.
In the European Union nickel alloys are banned because they are toxic and carcinogenic. Unfortunately, in the US jewelers are still allowed to sell nickel white gold jewelry, undoubtedly having a negative effect on our students’ math scores. Palladium alloys, although safe to use, are unfortunately rather soft and more yellow than their nickel-alloyed counterparts.
The price of pure platinum is generally higher than that of gold, but not always. In the past few years we have seen platinum prices dipping below gold prices.
The historical price ratio between the two metals being 2 to 1 (historically platinum is twice as expensive as gold) was shattered recently by a speculative "gold rush". Using white gold as a substitute for platinum WILL NOT REDUCE the cost of a bench-made piece - it might even cause it to increase.
The cost of labor is proportionally much higher than the cost of metal in a typical handmade piece. Using white gold might even complicate construction and result in a significant labor cost increase.
Precision of platinum work
White gold is not well-suited for custom work. It is harder to work with due to its lower melting point, softness, oxidation, burning, marmiting, and porousness of solder.
Platinum's hardness compared to white gold's hardness, platinum's high melting point, and its chemical inertness allow for platinum work to achieve the ultimate precision. Sharper edges, precise angles, well defined shapes, and cleaner joints are hallmarks of any handmade platinum piece.
Working with platinum is a pleasant experience for a bench jeweler. The end result is always far superior to anything made out of white gold. Using white gold instead of platinum in custom work will not make it less expensive. It is easier to make a custom piece using platinum, and the result is much more rewarding. The cost of metal in handmade jewelry is relatively insignificant in comparison to the labor.
Platinum vs Gold Hardness Chart
The hardness of platinum and white gold alloys based on the Vickers scale (HV). The higher the number the harder the alloy. There is a significant difference in hardness between metal produced by casting and metal that is hand forged (cold worked metal)
- 110 HV - Platinum- 5% Iridium - extremely soft, used for casting only, not used in bench made jewelry
- 135 HV - Platinum- Cobalt 4.5% - soft alloy, used in cheaper, mass production
- 130 HV - Platinum - 5.0% Ruthenium - Casting, mass production/
- 150 HV - 18K yellow gold - Casting
- 190 HV - 18k Palladium white gold - casting
- 210 HV - 18K yellow gold - Hand forged, bench work, Leon Megé uses this alloy when the work requires a yellow metal
- 216 HV - 18k Palladium white gold - hand forged (rarely done because platinum is a better metal for almost every bench made piece)
- 220-230 HV - Platinum - 5.0% Ruthenium - Hand forged, used for bench made work. All Leon Megé jewelry is made with this platinum.
- 220 HV - 18k Nickel white gold - a dangerous alloy which sometimes causes severe allergic reactions in people. Its use in jewelry is outlawed in Western Europe.
- 350 HV - 14k Nickel white gold - rock hard, dangerous, an allergy-causing metal that is illegal in the EU.
The myth of white gold being harder than platinum is believed by ignorant jewelers who are ready to mislead a consumer in order to score a sale.