Metals, materials, and colours are extremely important when picking your next piece of jewellery for your collection. Platinum and Gold are both popular precious metals used in jewellery. They’re both vastly different from one another, in terms of appearance, price tag and durability. To help you understand the differences between Platinum, White Gold, and Yellow Gold, keep reading to find out how they’re made, how to identify them, and most importantly, which metal is the best.
What is Platinum?
Platinum is a chemical element and transition metal, that’s dense, ductile, lustrous, malleable, and precious. It comes in a silver-white colour which is one of its key characteristics, as its name is derived from the Spanish word ‘platino’, meaning little silver.
Platinum is found naturally in the sands of rivers and was originally found and used in Columbia, South America. Due to Platinum’s good resistance to corrosion and stability at high temperatures, it is considered a noble metal and is rarely mixed with other metals when creating jewellery. Platinum is more ductile than other metals, like Gold, Silver, or Copper, meaning it can be stretched and drawn out into a thin form like a wire. Platinum also has a high resistance to wear and tear which is why it’s typically used in precious and meaningful jewellery, like engagement and wedding rings.
What is Yellow Gold?
Gold is the most popular jewellery metal and comes in a variety of different colours, like yellow, white, rose, green and black. Before we go into more information about Yellow Gold, let’s look at what Gold is and how it’s made in a bit more detail. Gold is a transition metal that’s extremely malleable, durable and can be stretched considerably and beaten into a sheet. In its purest form, Gold is a bright red-yellow colour but comes in different colours naturally and via alloys.
Most Gold jewellery on the market today is gold coated metals or alloys. This is because gold is quite soft and can wear away easily, so to keep the jewellery lasting for longer, it’s best to have a gold alloy or coated metal. An alloy is a metal that combines two or more metallic elements together. The way it works is by covering a base metal with a layer of Gold. Metals most alloyed with Gold are Brass, Copper, Iron, Nickel, and Silver. The thickness and purity of the Gold layer is what differentiates each Gold metal type apart from each other and changes the colour of the Gold. The gold metal types are Plated, Vermeil, Filled and Solid Gold.
Now let’s get into Yellow Gold. While pure Gold is typically a red-yellow colour, Yellow Gold is a brighter and warmer colour. Yellow Gold is an alloyed metal that’s made when pure Gold is mixed with Copper and Zinc. Mixing different amounts of Gold, Copper and Zinc creates different hues of yellow. For example, if you mix Gold with more Copper, you get a darker redder yellow. On the opposite end of the spectrum, mixing Gold with more Zinc makes a light and paler yellow. These mixtures are then poured over a base metal to create Yellow Gold Plating, Yellow Gold Vermeil and Yellow Gold Filled.
Yellow Gold is used a lot in jewellery because it’s easy to make and it looks the most like pure Gold. Yellow Gold can be used in any type of jewellery, but you’ll most likely see it being used to make earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.
What is White Gold?
White Gold is another Gold alloy, like Yellow Gold. It’s made by mixing pure Gold with white metals like Nickel, Silver, Platinum, or Palladium, and that’s what gives White Gold it’s silvery-white tones. White Gold is also additionally coated with the metal Rhodium which adds extra strength, durability and gives White Gold it’s characteristic lustrous surface shine.
Like Yellow Gold, White Gold is real Gold as it contains pure Gold which is then mixed with other metals. To tell how much Gold is in a White Gold piece of jewellery, it’ll be referenced to by the word carat or ‘ct’. A carat is a measurement that indicates the percentage of Gold in a piece of jewellery in comparison to the other metals. Carats are used to measure all types of Gold, including Plating, Vermeil, Filled and Solid, plus colours like Yellow, Rose and White Gold. Carats range from 9ct up to 24ct. For example, if you’re buying a White Gold ring which is 9ct, this means the Gold content is 37.5% and the remaining 62.5% is the other metals present, like the alloyed metals and the base metal. Going up in carat means the jewellery will have more Gold and will change the colour.
White Gold is a popular choice for wedding and engagement rings and is typically more durable due to the strength of the other materials present. Its more neutral tone looks beautiful alongside similar white colours like Platinum or Silver and balances out stronger colours like Yellow or Rose Gold.
How to tell the difference between Platinum and Gold
The first and most obvious way to tell the difference between Platinum and Gold is by the colour. This is more easily done when comparing Platinum and Yellow Gold, because the colours are so obviously different! But when it comes to White Gold and Platinum, it can be a bit trickier.
White Gold looks very similar to Platinum but over time, White Gold’s Rhodium plating will wear off to give it more of a yellow hue. This can be fixed by polishing and replating. As Platinum is naturally white, it won’t fade. In general, when comparing the two, Platinum tends to be a bright white colour and White Gold will have more of an obvious shine. If you still can’t tell, you can look at the hallmark on the inside of the jewellery piece. A Gold hallmark is indicated by its carat number and are numbered like this: 375, 585. 750, 916, 990 and 999. A Platinum hallmark starts a lot higher like this: 850, 900, 950 and 999.
Which is better?
Finally, we’re at the big question – which is better? Overall, Platinum is considered ‘better’ as it’s the most natural, purer, and most valuable metal in comparison to Yellow and White Gold. However, it depends on what you’re looking for in your jewellery.
Platinum jewellery is extremely valuable and that also means it tends to be more expensive. Although Gold and Platinum are both very strong and durable, Platinum is the more durable than the two, which means it’ll typically last longer and won’t wear away very easily. This is why platinum is used to make most engagement and wedding rings as they’ll last a long time, won’t break and can hold up gemstones like Diamonds very easily.
Both Platinum and Gold are dense metals, but Platinum is the denser of the two which makes Platinum jewellery a lot heavier than Gold jewellery. This doesn’t tend to be an issue but if you prefer lighter jewellery or if you have very small fingers, you might want a lighter option, like Gold. Finally, while Platinum is very durable, it’s softer than Gold which means it can scratch easily. When Platinum is scratched, the metal moves from one place to another which gives your jewellery a ‘patina’ finish. As long as you’re careful with Platinum, you shouldn’t have a problem with it tarnishing.
In comparison to Platinum, both Yellow and White Gold have more affordable price tags, lighter weights and you’ll find more gold jewellery on the market than Platinum. While these two can scratch more easier than Platinum, they’re still a beautiful option if you’re on a budget, looking for on-trend jewellery and if you want more of a range of jewellery to choose from. A thing to keep an eye on with yellow and white gold is the fading. To keep the colour, you need to regularly clean and polish your jewels to maintain its shine and to avoid any scratches.
Overall, Platinum, Yellow Gold and White Gold are all beautiful jewellery metals to choose from, whether you’re looking for an engagement ring or a pendant necklace. To choose between the three, you simply need to narrow down your choices and focus on what’s important to you. When choosing, we recommend looking at your budget, what colour you want, how long you want it to last and what type of jewellery you want.