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White Gold vs Silver: Complete Guide to the Differences

White Gold vs Silver, how to choose? White gold and silver are two different metals with different compositions.

You may love the elegance and classic appeal of silver that goes with most outfits and occasions.

But white gold’s modern look is hard to ignore. And guess what? It doesn’t require as much upkeep as silver does.

White Gold vs Silver: Paloma Melody ring in white gold
Image by Tiffany

They both look similar, so you may find it difficult to choose between them when buying jewelry.

But a choice between white gold and silver does not have to cause a dilemma.

The metals don’t have the same value and don’t appear identical upon a closer look.

We’ll make comparisons between silver and white gold to explain the differences between the two.

Whether you’re looking to add a new layer of shine to your jewelry collection or you want a precious metal that will last a long time, read on to learn everything you need to know.

Female model with silver boho necklace

White Gold vs Silver: White Gold

White gold is a metal alloy that combines gold with other metals, including nickel, copper, palladium, zinc and silver.

The resulting alloy is then given a white finish by plating it with rhodium.

Despite having different metal compositions in 14k, 18k and 20k, all white gold variations look almost identical because of the rhodium plating.

Rhodium is a white metal used to give white gold its characteristic color. The rhodium coating also serves to protect the white gold from tarnishing.

White Gold vs Silver: Sterling silver wedding rings
Image by Marko Milivojevic via Pixnio

Over time, it will wear away, and the gold underneath will take on a yellowish tint.

You can replate the jewelry piece to restore its original shine and color when this happens.

The vast majority of white gold used in jewelry is 14k or 18k. The metal alloy used for 14k white gold contains 58.5% gold and 41.5% other metals. 18k white gold has 75% gold and 25% other metals.

White gold was first used in jewelry during the Art Deco period of the early 20th century.

Its glossy silvery-white finish was famous for its ability to mimic the appearance of platinum, which was much more expensive.

During World War II, when the American government reserved platinum for military purposes, white gold jewelry gained favorability as an alternative and maintained its popularity even after the war.

White gold cufflinks
Image by Nuzree via Pixabay

White Gold vs Silver: Silver

Silver has been around for centuries. The word ‘silver’ originated from the Latin term ‘argentum’, which translates as ‘white’ or ‘shiny. Silver is a chemical element often formed as a byproduct of refining gold, zinc, copper and lead.

Silver is a pure metal with high thermal and electric conductivity and reflectivity.

Since it’s quite soft, it must be alloyed with copper, nickel and other metals to increase strength.

Here are a few popular variations of silver:

Sterling silver: The standard . 925 silver used in jewelry and other high-quality silver items.

It’s made of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper. Despite being strong and durable, sterling silver it can tarnish over time.

However, cleaning and polishing will bring back the lost luster.

Fine silver: This is the purest form of silver, at 99.9% silver.

However, the pure form is too soft to be used in jewelry or other items that must withstand wear and tear.

So it’s often used in bullion coins, ingots or other decorative items. Fine silver does not tarnish quickly.

Silver filled: This is a cheaper alternative to sterling silver.

The layered metal features a brass metal core with a thick layer of sterling silver bonded to the surface.

Silver-filled items tarnish easily, and the silver layer can wear away quickly, exposing the base metal underneath.

Silver plated: This is another cheaper alternative to sterling silver and is mostly used in costume jewelry.

It’s made of base metal with a thin layer of silver applied to the surface.

The external coating can wear off quickly but can be reapplied to extend the piece’s life.

Exotic silver: This term refers to the base metal alloys that only look like silver or have small silver content.

This includes silver alloys like German silver and nickel silver, as well as silver-plated metals like copper and brass.

There are also other types, such as Tibetan, Mexican, Bali and Thai silver. The names don’t indicate anything about the metal quality or composing elements, but rather the places of their origin.

Beware of these alloys because some may contain dangerous metals like lead.

The safest of all options is the .925 or sterling silver, but you should buy that too from renowned jewelry shops.

White Gold vs Silver: A Detailed Comparison

When it comes to jewelry, people often stick to the traditional styles like platinum and gold.

But is white gold the best option for you? And what about silver jewelry? Do you need it?

We’ll compare white gold to silver in various aspects so you can spend your money on the better option.

Whether you’re looking to switch up your style or add a touch of elegance to your look, find the perfect pieces from this comparison guide.


Like most people, you probably think white gold and silver have pretty much the same color.

After all, they’re both white, right? Wrong.

The color difference between white gold and silver is quite discernible. For starters, silver is naturally white or white-gray, while white gold is not.

White gold is yellow gold dipped in a metal called rhodium, which gives it a white color.

So, silver is the way to go if you’re looking for a truly white metal.

If you are thinking of pairing them up in your engagement or wedding jewelry set, think twice.

The color differences will make it clear that not all pieces are made of the same metal.

White Gold vs Silver: Wearing Comfort

When it comes to jewelry, not many things are more important than style. But comfort is definitely one of those things.

If you’re wearing something all day, you want to ensure it will not irritate your skin or cause discomfort.

That’s why we’re big fans of white gold and silver jewelry. Not only is it beautiful and fashionable, but it’s also hypoallergenic.

That means it’s less likely to cause any skin irritation, even for people with sensitive skin.

White gold alloy may have nickel and copper, but it’s coated in rhodium, so there’s no way these metals can touch your skin to cause allergic reactions.

On the other hand, silver is naturally hypoallergenic, but the copper in sterling silver jewelry may trigger an allergy in some people.

However, copper allergy is quite rare.

White Gold vs Silver: Appearance

The color of white gold can vary depending on the metals used in the alloy.

It will have a yellowish tint with nickel and zinc in the alloy, but palladium will create a more silvery appearance.

After a dip in rhodium, white gold gains a gorgeous white sheen. As for silver, it’s a grayish-white metal that lacks brilliance.

So, what does all this mean for someone trying to decide between white gold and silver?

Well, it really comes down to personal preference. If you want a metal that has more consistent color, silver is probably the way to go.

But white gold might be the right choice if you’re looking for something with a bit more personality.

As for skin tone, both white gold and silver look good on cool and neutral skin colors.

However, some people prefer how silver looks on their skin, while others think white gold is more flattering.

Again, it’s all a matter of personal preference.


When it comes to maintenance, the dilemma ‘white gold vs silver” is real. Neither metal retains their appearance for a lifetime and therefore, they need occasional maintenance.

Rhodium dipping increases the durability and luster of white gold. But with time, the bright white shine disappears, revealing a yellow undertone.

It’s not a huge problem, though, as replating the rhodium will bring back the previous look.

Sterling silver is not very durable and needs regular maintenance. As silver is a soft metal, it gets scratched and tarnished quickly.

Even though maintenance is a hassle, you can do it at home.

When cleaning your silver or white gold jewelry, use a gentle cleaner and a soft cloth.

Avoid using harsh chemicals or cleaners because these products can damage the finish of your jewelry.

Instead, opt for a simpler solution like a mild soap and water. Gently scrub your jewelry with the cloth, then rinse it with cool water.

You can try using a jewelry cleaner or polish if your jewelry has become tarnished.

However, read the instructions carefully before using any cleaner or polish, as some products may damage your jewelry.

When you’re not wearing your jewelry items, put them away in a jewelry box or pouch to prevent tangling and scratching.

White Gold vs Silver: Strength

Unfortunately, silver is not the most resistant metal out there. In fact, it’s quite soft, which means it can easily be bent or dented.

Sterling silver, the type of silver used in most jewelry, is also prone to this.

However, silver is still a good choice for jewelry in lower impact areas, like pendants and earrings.

You can also use it for a simple band with no precious stone.

White gold offers more strength because of its alloy metals and rhodium plating.

It’s also resistant to high impact, so you can use it as the setting for precious gemstones, like diamonds on a white gold ring or a ruby on a white gold bracelet.


If you consider all aspects, white gold will win the durability test. The metal is dipped with rhodium coating, which makes it resistant to corrosion and scratching.

Silver is a soft metal, so it’s prone to scratches and dents. However, it’s corrosion-resistant and does not react to moisture, air or water.

You need to keep it away from sulfur compounds, however, to prevent rusting.

Also, sterling silver tarnishes over time because its copper element reacts with humidity.

You can easily clean it at home, though.


There’s no denying white gold and silver jewelry are popular choices for accessorizing.

But which one is more popular?

In the case of popularity, white gold scores higher than sterling silver. White gold looks better and has a more luxurious feel than silver when used in jewelry.

But silver is more popular as a budget choice, like for costume jewelry. Also, it has a more versatile look that can be dressed up or down.


Silver is cheaper than white gold. This is because white gold contains a percentage of pure gold, which is much more expensive than silver.

Let’s compare a 14K white gold with a sterling silver piece. A 14K piece of white gold contains 58.3% gold, and one gram of pure gold costs around $56.

On the other hand, one gram of silver is around 60 cents. So, it’s clear why these two metals have different values.

Also, if you compare white gold to sterling silver at the gram level, the first one will still be the winner.

One gram of white gold is approximately $23, and it’s only59 cents for sterling silver.

The Pros and Cons of White Gold and Silver

Comparing silver to white gold shows that both metals have unique benefits and drawbacks.

We’ve listed them so you can make an informed decision before making a purchase:

White gold pros

  • Extremely durable
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Unlikely to cause allergic reactions
  • Doesn’t lose color easily

White gold cons

  • More expensive than silver

Silver pros

  • Looks elegant and classic
  • Mostly resistant to corrosion
  • Less expensive than white gold
  • Good for costume jewelry

Silver cons

  • Can trigger allergic reactions
  • Tarnishes easily
  • Soft and can get scratched

How to Tell White Gold from Silver

If you’re like most people, you probably can’t tell the difference between white gold and silver.

They both look similar, right? Well, there are some significant differences between the two metals, and we’ll tell you all about them.

First of all, let’s talk about the price. Silver is much cheaper than white gold, so if you’re looking for a bargain, you’ll want to go with silver.

However, white gold is still a good deal considering how beautiful it is and its long life.

Next, let’s talk about hardness. Silver is much softer than white gold, so it’s more prone to scratches and dents.

White gold, on the other hand, is much harder and more durable. So, if you’re looking for a metal that will last longer, white gold is the way to go.

Now, let’s talk about color. As you can probably tell, silver has a grayish-white look to it.

White gold without rhodium plating has a yellow hue, and rhodium dipping has a super white sheen.

So, if you’re looking for a metal that will stand out, white gold is more eye-catching.

But silver has an understated elegance, so pick the one that matches your outfits and styles.

Finally, you should look into jewelry stamping. Any commercially sold silver item will have hallmarks indicating the purity of the metal, plus additional information like who manufactured it and the date of manufacture.

The most common stamps are 925, 900 and 800, with the first number referring to sterling silver.

The stamping on white gold is similar to gold. It could be plain and straightforward 14K, 18K or 20K.

Sometimes, the hallmarks could be in numbers—585 indicating 14k gold and 750 indicating 18k gold.

There you have it. Now you know the differences between white gold and silver.

Which one should you choose? Well, that’s up to you. Both metals are beautiful and have their unique benefits.

So, take your time and choose the one that’s right for you.

Last Words

The difference between white gold and silver is discernible. You can tell them apart if you are observant enough or look for the features and facts mentioned in this article.

White gold is considered to be more expensive than silver, but many people still prefer it because of its durability.

It has a lot of bling, while silver has class and elegance. Silver is also a good choice for those with budget constraints.

But at the end of the day, the decision is yours about which one suits you better.

FAQs about White Gold and Silver

Q. Is white gold more valuable than silver?

A. Yes, white gold is more valuable than silver. Silver is easily available and not as durable as gold alloys. White gold still contains gold, one of the most precious metals.

Q. Does white gold look just like silver?

A. They may look similar at first glance, but a closer look will reveal the differences. Silver has a grayish white color, while white gold has a bright white sheen.

Q. What lasts longer, sterling silver or white gold?

A. Silver (usually called sterling silver) is a durable alloy metal, but white gold outperforms it, thanks to its rhodium coating.

Tags: white gold vs silver, pure silver, pure yellow gold