White Gold vs. Yellow Gold: What's the Difference?

When you think of gold, the brassy and yellowish hue is probably the first thing that comes to mind. And while traditional gold has cemented itself as a staple of jewelry for as long as time, it’s no longer the only option.

Yellow gold’s stiffest competitor, white gold, is an equally stunning variation used in many modern pieces. And while they both have their own benefits, there are some key differences that can make one more suitable to your needs than the other.

So what exactly is the difference between white gold and yellow gold? And is one better than the other?

Chemical Differences

Time to break out your science goggles, because we’re giving you a little chemistry lesson so you can better understand the difference between these two metals.

Gold is an element on the periodic table, and it’s a metal. It’s known for being durable and a great conductor of electricity, making it ideal for covering copper electrical components.

When you purchase a piece of jewelry, you’ll notice that it’s labeled as 14k, 18k, 24k, etc. These refer to the karats in the gold piece. A 24k piece of gold is as pure as it can get, meaning that 100% of the metal alloy is composed of gold. But 18k gold means that it’s 75% gold, meaning that the remainder was mixed with another metal.

This is exactly what white gold is. White gold is a mixture of pure gold with another metal alloy, usually a combination of nickel and zinc. If a white gold piece is marked as 18k, it means that it’s 75% real gold and 25% nickel and zinc.

Leaf Earrings

This is the main difference between yellow gold and white gold, but it also equates to a clear visible difference. As their names imply, yellow gold takes on a brassy hue, whereas white gold takes on a platinum-like finish.

Durability

While traditional gold is considered a durable material, it is still prone to dents and scratches. While regular polishing and refurbishing can restore a yellow gold jewelry’s appearance, it can still get pretty easily dented and scratched up if you’re not careful.

White gold is actually more durable than traditional yellow gold because of its mixture with other metal alloys. It’s still prone to damage, but it might be able to withstand more extreme circumstances as compared to regular gold.

With that said, the scratches on white gold pieces may be more easily visible than the dings on a yellow gold piece. The best practice is to just take care of all of your jewelry equally by cleaning them regularly and keeping them out of harm’s way whenever possible.

Price

It’s no secret that gold is an expensive metal. In fact, as of October 2021, just an ounce of gold costs nearly $1,800. So if you’re trying to ball on a budget, which one might be a better option?

The purer the gold, the more expensive the piece is probably going to be. For instance, if you get a 24k golden chain, that will definitely cost you more than a 14k gold chain, which contains only 58% actual gold.

With that in mind, white gold tends to be a bit less expensive, as only around 75% of the alloy is composed of real gold. This can let you snag some high-quality pieces like iced out Cuban link chains for a more affordable price if you choose this option over the traditional.

However, you can still get the look of yellow gold for a less expensive price point if you choose gold plating instead of solid gold. Gold plating involves placing a thin layer of real gold over top of a base metal, such as nickel or stainless steel. This can accomplish the exact look of real gold that you might be trying to accomplish. However, since it uses such a small amount, you can save a ton of cash.

While gold plating is the perfect option for bargain hunters, just keep in mind that you’ll need to take extra care to maintain it. Plus, solid gold gives you some bragging rights that you can’t achieve with a plated piece.

Purpose

Choosing between white or yellow gold is a highly personal preference, and you really can’t go wrong with either one. With that said, each has a different purpose and can have different effects on the end result of your outfit.

6mm Franco Chain 18k Gold

Since pure gold used to be worn by ancient kings and queens, this variation tends to have more of a traditional essence that harkens back to an earlier time. Wearing a yellow gold chain can give off the impression that you’re a classic hip hop icon, which will only aid in enhancing your status and appearance.

On the other hand, white gold has more of a contemporary feel that exudes modernity and professionalism. It’s a great option if you need some pieces to wear with your business attire at work. Yet, a white gold chain will prove useful as an attention grabber in any social setting as well.

When it comes to picking, we suggest having at least one of each at your disposal. This is important so that you can have a piece that can work for any given situation.

Other Gold Variations

While white gold and yellow gold are the two most common color variants that you’ll likely see people adorning around their necks, wrists, or on their ears, they aren’t the only ones. In fact, you can theoretically turn gold into a slew of different colors by just changing the type of metal that you combine it with.

Clustered Tennis Bracelet Rose Gold

One of the more prominent variations besides white gold is rose gold, which takes on a unique pink hue. This is accomplished by combining gold with copper and silver alloys. Similar to white gold, most high-quality rose gold options are 18k gold, meaning 75% of the final piece is made with solid, pure gold.And although it’s uncommon, you may also find pieces that take on a green hue. Mixing some silver alloys with gold is what ends up giving it this unique color. Rose gold is a bold maneuver, but when worn correctly, it can take your outfit from boring to scoring.

Compare—Don’t Despair

Taking a look at white or yellow gold, it’s pretty clear that there’s a difference between the two. However, when you dig beneath the surface, there are many more differences that are important to understand before choosing one over the other.

For one, white gold tends to be a bit more durable, as well as slightly less expensive, than solid yellow gold. However, yellow gold is extremely valuable, and owning a 24k gold piece is not something that many people are able to accomplish.

Not to mention, white gold and yellow gold both have different purposes when worn, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re wearing yellow gold and white in the appropriate circumstance.

With all that said, you can’t go wrong with any piece of jewelry as long as the quality is high. For a diverse selection of affordable and high-quality luxury jewelry, 6 Ice is the purveyor that you’ve been looking for.

 

Sources:

Gold - Element information, properties and uses | Royal Society of Chemistry

What is white gold? | USGS

Gold Price per Ounce | GoldPrice

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