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Platinum vs White Gold vs Yellow Gold vs Rose Gold - The Differences Explained

When it comes to jewellery, there is a range of metals available to us. Added into the already complex mix of the precious stones, colours and designs, and price and it is a wonder that anybody ever makes a final choice for any jewellery purchase.

Here we look at the most commonly found metals used to make jewellery so that you can narrow down at least one of your options. After reading this article, you can make an informed choice about the precious metal that will make a beautiful engagement ring or other fine jewellery.

Yellow Gold

Yellow gold is not the pure metal we tend to think of as being found in jewellery. Yellow gold is an alloy, or mixture, of metals with gold and zinc, copper or silver. Pure gold is too soft to be safely used in jewellery, so the additional metals make the gold strong enough to survive daily wear. 18 or 14-carat gold is used for engagement rings as it is strong enough to wear well while keeping the gold colour that we associate with fine jewellery.

Yellow gold has been the traditional choice for engagement and wedding rings for many years, it works well with both vintage and modern jewellery styles.

The softness and malleability of yellow gold make it the easiest of the precious metals to repair or re-size.

White Gold

White gold is very similar to yellow gold,but the metals used in the alloy are different, giving a lighter colour to the gold. Typically, white gold will include metals such as manganese, nickel and palladium.

White gold's purity is also measured in carats. If the alloy of the piece you are considering contains nickel than you can be assured that the ring will be durable and should last for a long time.

White gold should be your choice if you love the appearance of platinum but don't want to spend the extra money. White gold is harder wearing than yellow gold, it will not scratch or dent as easily. White gold can also outperform platinum because platinum, especially in rings, can quickly lose its shine to a myriad of tiny dents that look like scratches.

Unlike other forms of coloured gold, or platinum, white gold has a coating of the precious metal rhodium to give the brilliant whiteness. The rhodium coating can wear off over time. Every year or so, on a ring worn every day, the rhodium is likely to need recoating.

If the wearer of the ring has a sensitivity to nickel, then be wary of allergic reactions. Ask for jewellery that uses a nickel-free alloy, but also be aware that such a ring will not be quite as durable.

White gold is a sophisticated and fresh look. The whiteness looks great against paler skin tones. Yellow and rose gold suit different skin types.

Rose Gold

Rose gold is, like white and yellow gold, an alloy of gold with other metals. In the case of rose gold, the metals are gold, copper, and sometimes other metals. Sometimes called red or pink gold when the colour is either darker or lighter than usual.

Rose gold is rapidly gaining in popularity in wedding and engagement rings for its somewhat unusual look. Many people associate the reddish colour with romance.

Rose gold matches well with vintage-inspired designs, reflecting its initial popularity in the early 19th century. An increasingly popular choice is to stack three bands with rose, white and yellow gold bands. A very stylish look.

Rose gold is the most durable of the coloured golds. The copper gives jewellery excellent durability. Some people find copper to be an irritant. Rose gold is definitely not hypo-allergenic. For sensitive skin, yellow gold will be the best choice.

Rose gold works well with both light and darker skin, although many buyers think that yellow gold is the best choice for darker skin tones.


Platinum is often chosen as an alternative to white gold, the two are almost impossible to tell apart when new; although platinum is more expensive than white gold.

Platinum is usually very pure, at around 90-95% purity. This means that, compared to gold, you are paying for much more of the expensive precious metal which accounts for the price difference.

Platinum is an excellent choice for those with sensitive skin as it is hypo-allergenic.

Platinum has the same aesthetic benefits as white gold, suiting those with pale or rosy complexions.

Although platinum is very durable, it has a tendency to show what look like scratches but are, in fact, microscopic dents. Over time these marks can cause the metal to have a dulled appearance. The only way to return the metal to 'as new' brilliance is to have the marks removed and polished. The polishing process will remove a small amount of platinum every time it is carried out. White gold tends to look better, for longer than platinum.

Points To Consider When Choosing Coloured Gold Or Platinum For Your Jewellery

You now know the basics for coloured gold and platinum, but some more general considerations are worth noting.

  • If you are buying a piece of jewellery for a woman, look at what she already owns and likes. If she prefers white gold, for example, then she will probably want a white metal engagement ring, no matter what her skin tone. On the other hand, if she likes to mix colours, perhaps a stacked ring with three colours might be well appreciated.
  • On-trend women may prefer a white metal ring over rose or yellow gold. A woman whose style is more toward classic may prefer a rose or yellow gold piece.
  • Lifestyle can influence jewellery choices. An active lifestyle might demand a ring that is chosen for its durability. In such a case platinum, white or rose gold might be good choices. Also, look toward a lower purity of gold, possibly 14-carat as lesser amounts of gold enable more strengthening metal in the alloy.
  • Different colours of metal enhance the look of diamonds in different ways. A high colour grade diamond will be complemented by a white metal setting. A slightly yellow diamond will look whiter in a white metal setting but can be flattered by a yellow gold ring. Most coloured stones look best in a yellow or rose gold setting.
  • Price is always a factor. A coloured gold setting will tend to be less costly than platinum. You will be able to find jewellery to suit any taste in any of the coloured gold combinations.
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