Sterling Silver vs. White Gold: Which is Better for Your Jewelry?

Do you want to buy jewelry for a friend, a significant other, or someone you hope to make a significant other? Do you like the look of both sterling silver and white gold? Are you unsure of the difference between the two of them?

There is no reason to remain in the dark. Buying jewelry is a big deal, and you want to get it right. At first glance, sterling silver and white gold look the same, but they are not the same. If you have your heart set on one or the other, then should know the differences between them.

White gold and sterling silver: the basic differences

sterling silver
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Both gold and silver are naturally occurring metals that must be wrought from the earth in order to be made into jewelry. In their purest form, both metals are soft. They must be blended with other alloys to make them strong enough to be shaped into jewelry, and durable enough for people to wear them on their bodies.

Silver is usually blended with copper to enhance its strength. If you are inclined toward purchasing silver jewelry, then you should know the purity of the piece you are interested in. This information should be on a clear label. Sterling silver is 92.5% pure. Thus, the label should read 925 or .925.

Unlike silver, white gold does not form naturally in the earth. White gold is yellow gold that is blended with other metals and materials to give it a particular sheen. The purity of gold is measured in karats, on a scale that runs from 9 to 24. The latter being the purest form of gold.

The purest form of gold cannot be mixed with other metals, which is why you cannot get 24K white gold. However, it is possible to find 14K and 18K white gold, which are 58.5% and 75% pure respectively.

The look

White Gold
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Your final decision about the jewelry will be heavily influenced by the way it looks, and especially the way that it looks on the skin. Sterling silver and white gold have a silvery grey color.

This best suits people who have cooler skin tones. However, it can be a great fit for nearly anyone who has a sense of style and knows how to dress and accessorize.

Indeed, you can couple white gold and sterling silver with nearly any color, and they also go great with crystals, pearls, and turquoise shaded stones.

For some people, sterling silver rings are too shiny, especially when a diamond is set in them. They prefer their necklaces and bracelets to be made of this metal and their rings to be made of white gold.

You will need to get a sense of the fashion and style of the intended recipient of your jewelry gift. You may not see them wearing many of these items because they cannot afford them.

However, it does not follow that they do not want them as gifts. The best way to tell what they will like is to pay attention to what they do wear, and the comments that they make whenever they pass a jewelry shop.

Cost

Sterling Silver cost
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Gold tends to be more expensive than silver. However, you cannot always gauge the amount you will pay for white gold or sterling silver based on where gold and silver stand in the world market. If your finances are especially tight but you want to buy something that is special and distinctive, sterling silver is a good choice.

If you can spend a little bit more, then you should go for white gold. There is an elegance and sophistication in this metal that is not found in sterling silver. White gold is a common alternative to platinum, which is very expensive. Buying a white gold ring, for example, is a cost-effective way of attaining the same look as a platinum ring setting.

One of the most important things to bear in mind is that white gold is real gold. The fact that it is mixed with other metals does not reduce its value. Yellow gold is also blended with other alloys to enhance its strength and sturdiness. When assessing the overall value of the piece, you should consider the stones that are set in it. A diamond or other precious stone will raise the cost and value of jewelry regardless of the metal you choose.

Durability and longevity

white gold Durability and longevity
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The person for whom you buy the jewelry should be able to enjoy and treasure it for many years to come. Their ability to do so comes down to durability.

Sterling silver is less durable than white gold. It is easily scratched and can become degraded over time. It can also be misshapen if exposed to the wrong elements. White gold is a sturdier metal. It is more resistant to scratching and is not as easily bent. White gold is a better choice for jewelry that is to be worn every day.

White gold has rhodium plating, which not only enhances the sheen of the jewelry, but also gives it an extra coat of protection. If you, and the person you intend to give the gift to, are concerned about its longevity, then you should pay close attention to the karats in the white gold.

14K and 18K are the most popular kinds of white gold jewelry. 14K white gold is made up of 58.5% gold and 42.5% alloyed metal. 18K white gold is composed of 75% gold and 25% alloyed metal. These two karats of white gold jewelry will last a long time if they are properly cared for.

Care and cleaning

Sterling silver tarnishes easily. Over time, it will become black, even if stored in a place with ideal conditions. To keep up the appearance of silver, a great deal of buffing and polishing is required. You must also store sterling silver jewelry in a place without excessive heat or moisture.

It is less laborious to care for white gold. Cleaning the jewelry is the first line of defense against decrepitude and dullness. White gold can be cleaned with products that most people keep for normal household chores. Such cleaning need only be done once a month.

White gold is more resistant to basic elements such as heat and water, and it does not tarnish. However, it does go through the process of yellowing over time.

This is an indication that the rhodium plating has worn down, and that the item is returning to its original yellow gold coloring. To restore the white gold sheen, it must be taken to a professional so that it can be re-plated.

You should also determine whether the person who will wear the jewelry is allergic to metals. Although allergies to silver and gold are rare, people can react to the alloys that are mixed with them.

Most jewel manufacturers use hypoallergenic coating material to protect people with such allergies. However, the higher the karat of your white gold jewelry the less likely it is to cause an allergic reaction.

The final decision

Sterling silver and white gold are both popular choices for jewelry, and have been so since the 1990s. However, you should not make your final decision based on fads or popularity. Nor should you make the choice on a whim. There are aesthetic and practical factors to consider.

Here are a few of the big picture things you should think about:

1. The stone is as important as the metal

This article has dealt mostly with the metal part of jewelry. But whether your gift is sterling silver or white gold, the stone that is set in it will be the thing that attracts the most attention.

Diamonds—whether in a ring, necklace, or bracelet—suggests a serious commitment. Do not become so distracted by the design and karat of the metal that you neglect the importance of the stone.

2. Lifestyle of the intended recipient

You must also bear in mind the daily life of the person who will wear the jewelry. Sterling silver wears down too easily to be worn every day. It is the kind of jewelry that should only be worn on special occasions.

White gold can be worn every day. However, the best way to preserve the jewelry is to remove it before bathing, swimming, and showering. It should also be removed before undertaking dirty chores and hands-on tasks.

If you are buying a ring for a person who works in a physically demanding job or is constantly exposed to chemicals, it may not be practical for them to take it off before each task. Sterling silver is probably not the right choice in this instance. And if you purchase a white gold ring, you should carefully consider the karat.

3. Your finances

You may not want to seem cheap and stingy while buying such an important gift, but it is important to be realistic about your finances. Fortunately, you can find elegantly designed and well-crafted white gold and sterling silver jewelry at an affordable price.

Summing up

White gold and silver sterling may look similar, but there are real differences between the two metals. On the whole, white gold is the stronger and sturdier of the two. It is also easier to clean and care for.

When making the final decision about what to buy, you should give due attention to the stone that will be set in the jewelry. You must should also take into account the day-to-day life of the person who will wear it, and the state of your finances.

In the end, gathering the relevant facts about each metal and making your final purchasing decision is not that difficult.

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