Congratulations on choosing a stunning piece of diamond jewellery! There is one last decision to make – the choice of metal. Whilst the shimmering ‘silver’ look of white gold or platinum is undoubtedly the most popular, just like the eternal debate of pineapple on a pizza each has its own distinctive characteristics of why one is preferential to the other.
Firstly, let’s look at the technical differences between the two. When assessing metals, we consider the hardness and malleability, or rather the metal’s resistance to scratches and dents – its hardness and how easy it is to bend and form without breaking – its malleability.
At Paul Bram, we use 18 karat Australian white gold, which is made up of 75% Australian gold and 25% white metal alloys, usually palladium and silver. As gold in its pure form is yellow and quite soft, the alloys added to create white gold increase the metal's hardness as well as change its appearance to a white hue. The final piece is then plated with rhodium, a precious rare metal with reflective qualities. The thin layer of rhodium protects the white gold adding to its durability and together this combination of metals gives the jewellery a delicate, bright and beautiful finish.
When it comes to platinum, it is a naturally occurring white metal and so it naturally harmonises with white diamonds. Platinum is about 20% denser than 18 karat white gold and therefore it is used in its almost pure form of 95% platinum and 5% other alloys. As a result of the added alloys to 18 karat white gold, it is technically harder than platinum and more resistant to scratches. However, due to the density of platinum, it is much less prone to bending and will hold diamonds and other gemstones more securely. Furthermore, as platinum is more brittle and does not bend easily, it is difficult to work with and thus more time, even for our master jewellers. Additionally, as it is denser additional material is required to produce the same piece of jewellery than or white gold. Platinum, like 18 karat white gold is highly resistant to chemical action and oxidisation.
The technical difference
Now we know the technical differences between platinum and 18 karat white gold, let’s consider the aesthetics of each. At first, they may appear identical, however, there are very subtle differences that might make two rings look different even if it’s very difficult to see. As white gold is mixed with other alloys for strength and is less dense, it can be crafted into very, very fine details making the finished piece lighter and more delicate in appearance. The rhodium plating also helps to keep its crisp white, shiny finish. For platinum, it is naturally white in colour, though it has a slight blue/grey undertone; this can make jewellery look heavier even though it is exquisitely finished.
In practical terms for durability, it depends on how often and how hard a piece of jewellery is worn. For items such as earrings, necklaces and bracelets this is less of a factor than for rings. Although rhodium plating does improve the durability and brightness of white gold, it does wear off over time. This can be done anytime between once a year to once every two or three years, it is a simple and cost-effective procedure where the ring is sent to the workshop to be re-plated and your ring returns looking fresh and new. As platinum is more durable, it requires less repolishing however it can dull over time and so surface polishing is also required to maintain your jewellery.
Platinum and 18 karat white gold each have unique properties which make both excellent metals for a finely crafted piece of jewellery however it comes down to priorities and preferences. Each metal does suit different skin tones and ring designs more than others and some clients have a personal affiliation to one more than the other. Platinum is more durable, naturally white and heavier. 18 karat white gold is brighter, lighter: still exceptionally durable whilst also costing less initially and for other repairs over the life of the ring such as resizing. It is definitively the most popular metal choice.
Just like choosing to have fruit with your savoury, white gold and platinum each has its merits for colour, durability and price, in the end, it comes down to a matter of personal taste.