At first glance, platinum, silver and white gold look virtually interchangeable. However, when it comes to shopping for an engagement ring or wedding band, the differences between these similar-looking precious metals become quite pronounced, both in terms of quality and of price. We break down the pros and cons between buying platinum, silver and white gold to help you pick the right metal for your wedding day.
COLOR AND CARE
PRO: Sterling silver has a grayish-white color and has an elegant sheen to it. The cool undertones of silver complement gemstones and help them pop.
CON: Silver is incredibly susceptible to tarnishing. Moisture, humidity and air pollutants can mix with the other metals in sterling silver and quickly discolor your ring. In turn, silver jewelry requires regular cleanings and separate storage.
PRO: Platinum is naturally a brilliant, greyish-white color and can be quickly polished to restore its luster as needed.
CON: Over time, platinum will develop a patina that will dull your ring’s luster. However, this can also be classified as a pro as some wearers prefer a somewhat faded platinum engagement ring, as it makes the diamond look bigger.
PRO: White gold is a composite of yellow gold and the alloy metal nickel. Then it is plated with rhodium, an expensive precious metal. This gives white gold that mirrored look and finish.
CON: The rhodium plating will inevitably fade, leaving your formerly white gold ring with a yellowish tinge. You will need to have your ring regularly re-plated to preserve its original brilliant white luster.
WEIGHT AND HARDNESS
PRO: Silver is a whiteish-gray precious metal that, at its purest, is the softest material out of these three, making it prone to nicks and scratches. In fact, pure silver is so soft that it usually has to be mixed with other metals to make it more durable. Hence the existence of sterling silver, which is a mix of pure silver and copper. Sterling silver is slightly harder than gold, therefore, it is less susceptible to the scratches that are unavoidable with a piece of jewelry that endures daily use.
CON: The hardness of sterling silver is both its pro and its con. The flip-side being that it is difficult for jewelers to engrave silver with fine details. So, if you love the look of a very detailed carved band, you will be disappointed in the final look of a silver ring.
PRO: Platinum is an incredibly durable metal. It does not scratch easily so it does not require as much regular maintenance as silver or white gold. Also, diamonds or gemstones are incredibly secure when set in platinum.
CON: The density of platinum makes it a heavier metal. While some wearers may enjoy the weighty feeling of platinum on their finger, others may find it cumbersome.
PRO: Like yellow gold, white gold is a very soft metal. This makes white gold the perfect option if you want a ring with lots of filigree, an incredibly ornate pattern of arabesques made with incredibly fine white gold wire.
CON: White gold is incredibly vulnerable to scratches. In turn, you run the risk of damaging your ring with frequent wear.
PRO: Silver by far wins as the most budget-friendly precious metal of this bunch, as it is the most common metal of the three.
CON: However, silver is not classified as an investment metal the way gold is. Although you are probably not planning on selling your engagement ring anytime soon, if you ever wanted to reset or upgrade your ring for, say, an anniversary, it may be trickier to find an interested buyer.
PRO: Taking a long-term view, a platinum ring will need minimal servicing—and those little trips to the jewelers for cleaning and re-plating silver and white gold really do add up.
CON: Platinum is much more expensive than silver and white gold. Also, because platinum is a heavy precious metal and sold by weight, it inflates the overall cost.
PRO: As an alloy metal, white gold comes in varying degrees of purity; the higher the percentage of pure gold, the more expensive your ring will be. That said, you can effectively scale the white gold’s purity to suit your budget.
CON: White gold is, overall, still pricier than silver. Moreover, you will need to pay up to have your jewelry regularly polished and re-plated in rhodium to maintain it.