If you’re not a jewelry expert, you might not be able to tell the difference between sterling silver and white gold. Many people don’t know the differences and assume they are the same.
That’s not the case though. They differ in durability, cost, care, and shine. If you’re in the market for a new piece of jewelry and you’re weighing the options of sterling silver vs white gold, read on to learn a little more about each of them.
What is Sterling Silver?
Sterling silver is a precious metal that is shiny and silver in color. It is resistant to oxidation, so it’s used for many things, such as coins, decorative pieces (like silverware), and jewelry.
The silver in jewelry is often mixed with copper to increase its strength. Mixing silver with copper creates sterling silver and you can verify this by the number 925 stamped on the metal.
This means that 92.5% is silver and 7.5% is other materials, such as copper.
What is White Gold?
White gold, on the other hand, is a mix of pure gold and other metals. These other metals could be nickel, palladium, or silver. The other metals give the gold its white or silver appearance.
White gold is measured in karats, just like yellow gold. The karats tell you how much of the piece is pure gold. White gold can be found in 10, 14, 18, or 21 karats. The higher the karats, the more pure gold in the jewelry.
Both sterling silver and white gold can last you an extremely long time, especially if you take care of them. White gold is generally softer than silver (the higher the karat, the softer the gold) but sterling silver scratches more easily and can change shape over time, especially if there is a lot of wear and tear.
White gold is more resistant to corrosion and impact than sterling silver. White gold is higher quality than sterling silver, but the rhodium plating that covers white gold will wear off over time, showing a yellow color.
One of the downsides to white gold is that you often have to have white gold re-plated. This is generally not that expensive and will make your rings look brand new.
The price difference between gold and silver is pretty significant. The price of gold and silver varies based on the market (currently, gold is worth about $55 per gram while silver is worth $0.50 per gram) but white gold is going to be much more expensive since it is made of pure gold.
Sterling silver jewelry is a great option for pieces that are going to be worn often but not necessarily every day. For something that will be worn daily, like an engagement ring or wedding ring, white gold could be the way to go.
Both metals require regular cleaning. Silver will tarnish over time, so you must polish it regularly. You can get special silver cleaner and a polishing cloth to get rid of any tarnish.
White gold can be cleaned with warm soapy water or a jewelry cleaner, and as discussed above, it will need to be re-plated when the rhodium begins to wear off.
Sterling Silver vs White Gold: Which is Right For You?
When making a decision on sterling silver vs white gold, consider your budget, how often you will wear it, and how much care and upkeep you want to commit to. Both have attractive characteristics, so it will come down to your needs.
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