Which Is Better?
When shopping for a wedding band, most people know from the beginning what their preference is for metal colour.
Although similar in appearance, these two metals are literally quite different materials with very different properties. This sometimes means a specific design is best made either in Platinum or in White Gold. Jewellers work with these metals every day and if your design lends itself to a particular metal choice, they will be happy to give you guidance.
One question jewellers are commonly asked is “Which metal is better…White Gold or Platinum?” Unfortunately the answer is not quite so simple. They both have their advantages and drawbacks and your design choices can play an enormous part in determining which metal is best for your piece.
Both Platinum and White gold are durable metals which have their own weaknesses and strengths.
Platinum may be a very dense metal which suggests its excellent resistance to wearing down. A wedding band made in Platinum might be worn for many years and barely lose any thickness. The downside of Platinum is that it tends to lose its sharp edges and high polish fairly quickly.
This is not because they’re being worn away but, more accurately; they’re being moulded like clay round the surface of the ring. This can result in small dents or bruises on the metal surface that over time creates its own unique finish called a patina. It is this particular characteristic which will mean some design elements are better in 18ct white gold or even 9ct white gold.
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Although not as dense as platinum, 18ct white gold is intrinsically strong and fine detail such as milgrain, hand engraving, or square edges, are going to be retained better by 18ct white gold than in platinum. The downside of 18ct white gold is that it’s more vulnerable to erosion. If you’ve had the opportunity to see or own an 18ct white gold ring for a long period of time, it’s likely you’d have noticed that it’s become very thin thanks to the metal wearing off over time.
Your jeweller will assess your design and ask you questions on your lifestyle, occupation and the way you’re presumably to wear your piece to advise you which metal’s durability is better suited for you.
Special mention: Hardness VS Malleability
Two properties of metals that aren’t well understood by the jewellery industry and jewellery consumers are hardness and malleability.
Put simply, hardness refers to a metal’s resistance to scratching and denting. A hard metal, a bit like diamond, the toughest material known, are going to be immune to scratches, whilst a soft metal will scratch easily.
Malleability refers to how easy a metal can be bent and shaped without breaking. A malleable metal will bend easily, whilst a brittle metal won’t bend easily.
Whilst it is true that platinum is harder than gold in its purest form, to get to 18ct white gold, pure gold is mixed with other metals, most commonly palladium, silver and copper to make it harder. This process makes 18ct white gold harder than platinum in its workable form; which is most ordinarily 95% pure platinum.
On the opposite hand, platinum is more brittle than your white gold metals, and is tough to bend and hammer into shape.
What the hardness and malleability of platinum and white gold means in the real world is that a platinum wedding band might be more easily scratched and dented, but it will hold diamonds and other gemstones more securely, as platinum does not bend easily thanks to its brittleness.
Another separating factor is colour. While platinum is a naturally white metal, white gold is made by combining pure gold (which is yellow in colour) with alloying metals such as Palladium, silver and copper. Because of the alpha-beta brass content, alloy is really slightly grey/off-white in colour.
This can be corrected by a surface treatment called Rhodium plating. Rhodium plating is that the application of a really thin layer of a metal called Rhodium that’s electrically plated on to the surface of the band to create a brighter white colour. This plating will wear off – depending on your lifestyle – and will need to be re-applied. The plating can last around 2 years if you take good care of your wedding band.
The final consideration is cost. Platinum wedding bands have become more affordable than 18ct white gold over the last year due to the soaring gold prices.
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