Choosing the best jewelry is not always an easy task. All the available options can leave you impressed leaving you more confused. Two outstanding jewelry options that are likely to mix you up are the sterling silver and white gold.
White gold and sterling silver have a similar appearance. Both feature a silver hue. If polished, both will have the same shiny effect.
Just like when buying any piece of jewel, you should focus beyond the looks. White gold and sterling silver are very different.
Read on as we break down the differences between sterling silver vs white gold. At the end of it, you will be in a better place to make the right decision with regards to the piece of jewel to buy.
What is White Gold?
White golds can be defined as a mixture of gold and other metals which end up giving it a white color hence the name. The mixture ends up giving white gold a silvery hue.
In addition to the color, other metals make the gold hard improving its strength and durability.
Some of the metals that are added to the white gold include silver, nickel, and palladium. The properties of the final product will depend on the type of metals used and its content.
White gold is also coated in rhodium metal which also increases its strength and durability.
Just like yellow gold, white gold is also measured in karats. However, the content of gold in this mixture is always expected to be 75%.
What is Sterling Silver?
Like white gold, sterling silver is an alloy of silver that contains 92.5% pure silver while other metals make up for the remaining 7.5%.
Common elements that are added to make up sterling silver include zinc, germanium, platinum, silicon, and boron.
Is sterling silver the same as pure silver? The two are quite different. They differ in terms of content, material, and even price.
While pure silver is 99% silver, sterling silver comprises of 92.% silver. From this content difference, you can draw a list of many other properties that distinguish these two metals.
White Gold vs Sterling Silver: Appearance
When comes to appearance, it is quite difficult to distinguish white gold from sterling silver. The original yellow gold is mixed with other metals that end up giving it a white luster-similar to silver.
However, if you take a closer look, you will be able to distinguish the two based on their appearance. Sterling silver has a shinier complexion than white gold.
White Gold vs Sterling Silver Composition
Both gold and silver are minerals found in the earth’s crust. However, white gold and sterling silver are alloys made from their original respective metals. This means that there are no original white gold ingots or sterling silver.
White gold is a combination of yellow gold with other metals such as nickel, palladium, and manganese. Still, this combination is not shiny enough. Rhodium is coated to give it a bright and shiny luster.
Still, there are different variations of white gold depending on the types of metals that make up the composition. The metals will eventually determine the overall property of the gold.
White gold whose composition includes nickel is strong and durable. However, it is more allergenic. On the other hand, white gold whose composition includes copper and silver is hypoallergenic and malleable.
How can I know that the jewelry is made of white gold? Hallmarks that are used for identifying white gold .750 which stands for 18K gold, .587 for 14K gold, and 417 for 10K gold.
Pure silver is too soft to be independently used for making jewelry. It can easily lose its shape or even break. This is where sterling silver comes in as it is a composition of pure silver with other metals.
Sterling silver comprises 92.5% pure silver and the rest is other metals which include nickel, copper, and zinc.
These other metals are credited for increasing the strength and durability of the silver metal.
The composition makes sterling silver useful for making a wide range of jewelry.
How can I identify sterling silver and its composition? Jewelry that is made of sterling silver should have a hallmark of numbers such as .925 on it. The jewelry can also be identified by different words such as STER, STG, and STERLING.
White Gold vs Sterling Silver: Which one is Allergenic
When in torn between white gold vs sterling silver, you may consider looking into the issue of allergenic. This is so especially if you are allergic to nickel-based jewels.
Either of the two metals can have nickel. This is based on the fact that both are composed of metal alloys and nickel can be one of the metals that are used in the composition.
However, white gold rarely contains nickel. Even if it has some traces of nickel, the Rhodium coating seals any possibilities of being exposed to nickel.
On the other hand, sterling silver that contains nickel is not recommended if you are allergic. The fact that it does not have any protective coating means that you are likely to be affected by this jewel.
White Gold vs Sterling Silver: Durability
When buying any piece of jewelry, the aspect of durability will always come up. You would want a jewel that will last for long. Which one is more durable between white gold and sterling silver?
Both pure gold and pure silver are soft. They are blended with other metals so that they become strong and durable especially when used as jewelry
Sterling silver is capable of lasting for long if you take care of it. The extra metals that are added to the pure silver are credited for the extra strength and rigidity. It also does not bend easily when subjected to external forces.
In addition to the physical strength, sterling silver does not tarnish easily. It is resistant to scratches to a certain extent.
White gold is physically stronger than pure gold. It does not give easily to the external pressure and physical forces.
The metal alloys added to the white gold increase its resistance to scratches and even corrosion.
With white gold, the more the metals, the stronger the jewel, or the lower the karat of gold, the stronger it is.
While all types of white gold (18K,14K, and 10K) are strong, the rhodium coating on the surface of this metal tends to wear with time. This increases the vulnerability of gold to external conditions such as scratch which will eventually degrade its durability.
You can prevent this problem by constantly replating the jewel with rhodium.
While both white gold and sterling silver are durable metals, your handling and storage techniques will have a final say on this. If handled and stored carefully as required, the jewels will last for long. They will last for short if you handle them recklessly.
White Gold vs Sterling Silver: Value
Each jewel has a value that is attached to it. So, between white gold vs sterling silver, which one is more valuable?
White gold is more valuable than sterling silver. So, if you would like to make a statement wearing a piece of jewelry based on its value, white gold jewelry will help you achieve this gold.
However, the value of white gold varies depending on the content of pure gold in it. The higher the percentage of gold, the more valuable the jewelry.
Sterling silver is more affordable than white gold. Generally, silver is considered as one of the cheapest metals for making jewelry. The low price of white silver makes it a piece of everyday jewelry. This means that you can wear it more regularly and it will still make a statement as it has the same appearance as white gold.
Still in matters of value, white gold can serve as an investment tool. This is because it is always viewed as pure gold in the commercial arena.
Is Sterling Silver Harder than 14K White Gold
14K gold is the hardest white gold. It is harder than the 18K and 16K gold. But, is it harder than the sterling silver?
This white gold is harder than sterling silver in all the relevant perspectives. It has a higher resistance to scratches and corrosion than silver.
White gold cannot bend easily or even break due to the external pressure that is applied to it.
White Gold vs Sterling Silver: Care and Maintenance
You should consider care and maintenance when buying any piece of jewelry. Since jewelry are exposed to all elements when worn, proper care should be accorded so that they can retain their original luster.
Bot white gold and sterling silver require proper care and maintenance. The difference is in terms of the level of care that is required.
White silver can easily tarnish when exposed to moisture, chemicals, and other elements. Once this happens, the shiny luster will disappear and you will remain with dull or even stained jewelry.
You can easily clean sterling silver using commercial jewelry cleaners. You should wipe your sterling silver jewelry regularly to prevent the build-up of stain. Store the jewelry away from heat and chemicals.
On the other hand, white gold does not tarnish or oxidize easily. It does not require constant cleaning as sterling silver. This is attributed to the presence of rhodium coating which forms a protective layer.
However, you should still clean your white gold jewelry regularly. Replating is the most important maintenance practice for white gold. The practice entails applying rhodium coating on the jewel and should be done bu a professional jeweler.
With proper care and maintenance, you will be proud of your white gold or sterling silver piece of jewelry. It will look like new no matter how long you have been having it.
White Gold vs Sterling Silver Table
The table below summarizes the differences between white gold vs sterling silver:
|Sterling Silver||White Gold|
|Affordable and lower value than the white gold||Very valuable and expensive than sterling silver|
|The best option for costume jewelry||Ideal choice as contemporary jewelry|
|Is not hypoallergenic||Is not hypoallergenic|
|Tarnishes easily||Takes time to tarnish|
|Prone to scratches and chemical elements||The rhodium coating protects the jewel from damage|
|Softer than the white gold||Relatively harder due to the rhodium coating|
|Requires constant and intense maintenance||Requires maintenance but not as intense as for the sterling silver|
White Gold vs Sterling Silver-Which One Should I Choose?
At this point, you should be able to draw clear demarcations between white gold vs sterling silver. You can create a list of the pros and cons of each jewel.
When it comes affordability, silver carries the day. It is more affordable of the two hence you can easily buy without straining your finances
Sterling silver is also hypoallergenic. If you are allergic to the white gold, then you have an ideal option, only if the sterling silver does not contain nickel.
However, sterling silver requires more maintenance to maintain its original hue. It is also weaker than white gold.
On the other hand, white gold is easier to maintain than sterling silver. It is also stronger and more durable.
However, white gold is more expensive than the sterling silver. It is not an ideal metal if you are operating within a tight budget. White gold can also cause allergies.
You should consider all the factors before deciding which metal to buy. Can you afford the jewel? Will it have any negative health impact? What statement will the metal make? Among many other questions?
Your taste and preference should also count when it comes to choosing white gold or sterling silver.
Once you are sure, then you should proceed to buy either white gold or sterling silver.
Ensure that you buy from a reliable jeweler so that you end up getting exactly what you want.