The Detail Comparison On: Silver vs. White Gold

Silver or White gold looks pretty much the same, right? Not really. If you look closely, their difference will begin to become apparent. Now, if you read on, you’ll learn that there is more than meets the eye, and you’ll make a better-informed decision if you ever decide to purchase either silver or white gold.

What is White Gold?

Gold is a naturally occurring precious metal that, when polished, has an attractive yellowish luster. Because of this, gold has been a well sought-after mineral used for ornamentation, jewelry, and coins. It’s a very soft and malleable metal making it easy to work with. However, pure gold lacks durability and strength. To keep gold items from getting bent out of shape, goldsmiths mix other metals with gold.

One such gold alloy is white gold. It is pure gold combined with other silvery-white metals like palladium or silver. For added protection and luster, white gold is coated with rhodium, a precious metal related to platinum. The type of metals mixed determines the properties of white gold.

Karat is the unit of measurement for white gold, the same as for yellow gold. An 18k white gold ring means it is around 75% gold, while the other 25% is made up of other metals.

What is Silver?

Silver is another precious metal that is closely related to gold and other platinum-group metals. Its electric conductivity makes it an important element used in electric circuits and electronic conductors, besides its jewelry use.

Like gold, silver is alloyed with other metals, particularly copper, to add to its durability. A sterling silver with ‘925’ stamped on it means 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals.

Silver vs White Gold

Difference between White Gold and Silver

  • Durability – Silver is relatively softer than white gold. It can be easily bent and is susceptible to corrosion. On the other hand, owing to its rhodium coating, white gold is more durable. For this reason, white gold is perfect for pieces of jewelry you wear daily, like wedding rings. But remember that the strength of a white gold alloy depends on its karat. The higher the karat (ratio of gold and other metal), the softer the jewelry is.
  • Affordability – Silver costs less than white gold. This makes silver a popular choice for costume jewelry. Money-wise, silver is the better option than the more expensive white gold. However, compared to platinum, white gold is a more affordable alternative.
  • Allergy – Nickel is among the triggers of allergic contact dermatitis. It is the standard alloy for white gold. The rhodium coating on your white gold jewelry can protect your skin from an allergic reaction to nickel, but this coating will eventually wear off.
    Sterling silver is more often mixed with copper, though there are circumstances that jewelers use nickel that make up 7.5% of the alloy.
  • Maintenance and care – Both silver and white gold will require varying levels of maintenance. White gold will require reapplication of its rhodium coating after a few years; otherwise, the yellow gold underneath will begin to show. If you have a nickel allergy, your skin will become prone to nickel in the alloy. Reapplying rhodium coating will restore the silvery luster of your white gold jewelry.
    Compared to white gold, silver require more care to prevent tarnishing. Silver needs to be protected from air pollution, humidity, and moisture to prevent discoloration.

Is Silver Stronger than Gold?

Silver and gold in their pure form are both soft and malleable. Without the added durability of other metals, both can easily be deformed. Generally, white gold is considered stronger than silver.

White gold is highly durable, but its strength and lifespan depend on its karat. As mentioned above, the higher the karat, the less durable white gold is. You can opt for a more robust and longer-lasting piece of white gold jewelry, but it means lowering its karat and consequently its value.

If you ever choose white gold over silver, you’re assured that your piece of jewelry will shine for the rest of your life.

How to Tell the Difference between the Two?

It is easy to mistake one for the other with untrained eyes, given the two’s apparent similarity. But if you look closely and consider these qualities listed below, you’ll find a big difference between silver and white gold.

White Gold Silver
Has a mirror-like luster and a beautiful white shine owing to its rhodium coating It does have a lustrous finish but not as mirror-like as white gold
More expensive and has higher quality materials than silver but more affordable than platinum A beautiful yet less-expensive option
Durable material and hard rhodium finish perfect for more intricate details Relatively softer than white gold and can be bent out of shape over time
The longer-lasting luster doesn’t require constant polishing other than reapplication of coating every couple of years Needs more care and maintenance to keep its luster and prevent discoloration

Can You Put a White Gold Pendant On a Silver Chain?

Yes, but with careful considerations. The close resemblance of color and luster between white gold and silver makes the old rule of mixing two different metals that do not apply to this situation. Instead, attention must be put on the weight and durability of the materials.

Silver is a softer metal that can suffer under the weight of your pendant. Your silver chain will be delicate as long as your white gold pendant doesn’t weigh that much. However, heavier pendants should have your necklace customized to help your silver chain accommodate the pendant’s weight.