Buying Tips / Jewelry

Sterling Silver VS White Gold: We Tell You the Real Difference!

Marianne Marianne 26 Feb 2020 34187

Sterling Silver vs White Gold. The two are both beautiful and precious pieces of metal that can create almost any kind of jewelry. You will find rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and everything in between in sterling silver and white gold.

So what is the difference between the two of them and why does it matter? Do you think they look exactly the same or are you a jewelry expert who can tell every little difference?

Regardless of what you know and don’t know about sterling silver and white gold, we hope you find something helpful and interesting from reading this.

By the end, you will feel like an expert, or at least comfortable and confident enough in your knowledge that you are ready to make a decision about which one to buy.

The look

When you see two samples of jewelry next to each other that are sterling silver and white gold, you may not be able to tell the difference. But that’s okay.

For some of you, you may notice that sterling silver has a bit more brightness to it than white gold.

Regardless of whether or not you can identify it with the naked eye, don’t stress too much. Do your research, ask questions, and decide which piece is better for you.

That may change depending on who you are buying it for, yourself, a friend, or a significant other. It may also vary depending on what you are buying it for.

Is it for a birthday, an anniversary, a graduation gift? We regularly see two main types of jewelry being sold, which are most easily identified as yellow gold and silver.

white gold vs sterling silver

Sterling silver and white gold have a very similar silver/gray color. These metals suit the best men and women who have cooler skin tones. However, they can be flattering to anyone, and it very much depends on the style and preference of the person.

You can pair white gold and sterling silver with most colors and gems such as crystals, turquoise, and pearls.

Now that you have a good idea of what they look like at first glance, you may still be curious why it matters to know more about them.

What is the difference between the two of them? Let’s talk about what these gorgeous metals are made up of, how long they will last ideally, and how durable they are for everyday wear and tear.

What are sterling silver and white gold made up of?

Sterling silver and white gold are both made up of combinations of metals. Each metal finish is made up of specific combinations with very little fluctuation in alloys. How are those measured?

sterling silver compositionThey are typically calculated in overall percentages. For example, you may see that the bracelet you want to buy says that it is 925 sterling silver.

What does that mean? Sterling silver is typically made up of 92.5 percent pure silver, with some sort of alloy making up for the remaining 7.5 percent of the metal combination. The most common alloy that usually contributes to the total make up of sterling silver is copper.

The reason for this, as well as the make-up of white gold, which has a different alloy that we will talk about in a bit, is that pure silver is a very soft material. Because of that, the copper alloy is added to make it stronger and more durable.

This type of silver is marked with a 925, but often not in a very visible spot. Because sterling silver and white gold look so similar, the hidden 925 will tell you what metal you are looking at.

sterling silver 925

White gold is not actually a natural metal. The reason for this is that it is made up of a type of metal with an alloy, a lot like sterling silver.

The difference is that white gold’s main base is yellow-gold which is found in the Earth’s crust. Again, pure yellow gold is a little bit softer and when mixed with an alloy it becomes more durable and even scratch-resistant.

When looking for white gold, you will frequently find a yellow gold of up to 21 karats mixed with an alloy such as nickel, silver, and palladium. White gold often comes with a rhodium plating that adds to its durability.

Now you may have been taken back a bit when you heard the word karat. We all know what a carrot is, but what is a karat?

18 k white gold composition

A karat is a measure of how pure gold is. Pure gold is measured at 24 karats. So while shopping for white gold, you will often come across 10, 14, 18, or 21k.

That k means the karats of pure gold, and we know that white gold is mixed with an alloy, which is why it will never reach the full 24 karats. To be more specific, 18k white gold is 75 percent pure gold, while 14k is 58.5 percent pure gold.

This gives you a better idea of how much pure gold and how much of the alloy has been combined to create your special piece of jewelry.

White gold is typically more valuable than sterling silver and more long-lasting, though we will talk about those things later on as we discuss the benefits of each type of metal now that you know the difference between their blends.

Sterling silver vs. white gold: durability

So you want to find something that will last, something that you won’t tarnish, scratch or break easily.

That leads us to discuss the durability of sterling silver and white gold, as well as how much these metals compare when it comes to wear and tear.

You may have heard myths about the idea that sterling silver doesn’t last. But we have good news! Sterling silver can last you decades.

If you purchase quality sterling silver and treat it well, you can expect it to last for 30 or more years. Yes, that includes the ring that you wear every single day!

For example, you can absolutely wear your sterling silver in water; if it’s raining or you are taking a shower, there is no need to panic and take your ring off.

However, this may cause it to tarnish and will require cleaning to get back it’s a shiny silver look. Furthermore, if you are swimming in a chlorinated swimming pool or working with any kind of chemical, it is a good idea to keep your silver jewelry stored away. This also includes saltwater like the ocean.

White gold is more similar to platinum in the sense that it is a higher quality and possibly even a little rarer. With that being said, white gold may look like platinum, but with time the rhodium plating may cause issues.

rhodium plated white gold

Do you recall us talking about the rhodium layer on top of the combination of yellow gold and an alloy (like nickel) that makes the gorgeous color hold and last?

One thing to note about that rhodium layer is that it’s prone to wearing off and fading, turning into a yellowish color. This may seem alarming as white gold comes with a fancy price. However, the shine can be easily restored by re-polishing and re-plating the product.

One of the biggest differences between white gold and sterling silver when it comes to durability is that white gold is more scratch-resistant.

How do I clean my Sterling silver or white gold jewelry?

Cleaning your sterling silver doesn’t take a whole lot of supplies or solutions. Simply combine white vinegar and baking soda as a cleaning solution to remove the tarnishing.

Soak whatever piece of sterling silver jewelry in a bowl where you added two tablespoons of baking soda and half a cup of white vinegar.

cleaning sterling silver

Simply soak the jewelry for two to three hours and then rinse it off with clean water. We recommend using a soft towel to wipe off and dry your jewelry.

Cleaning white gold may be a bit more difficult but still very much doable. This time you will mix mild soap with warm water. When choosing the soap, make sure that it does not contain harsh chemicals.

mild soap

Next, you will soak your jewelry in the solution for about 25 minutes. Next, find a soft cloth and rub the jewelry to remove any dust or dirt.

You can also use a soft brush; even a toothbrush with soft bristles would do the job to rub away the dirt or any other particles. After you have brushed the jewelry, rinse it off in warm water. Dry off the white gold jewelry with a clean, dry towel.

There are ultrasonic jewelry cleaners out there that can be used with white gold and silver. If you want to purchase one, make sure you invest in a quality machine that won’t damage your jewelry.

Sterling silver vs. white gold: price comparison

Typically white gold is more valuable than sterling silver. This is the case because white gold is made up of up to 75% pure gold.

Pure gold comes with a fancier price tag as well as the nickel alloy. Sterling silver is mixed with copper, which is a less expensive metal.

To give you a better idea, keep in mind that white gold comes with a price tag of $23.86 per gram, while sterling silver is only $0.59 per gram!

white gold price

Does this mean that white gold is always better because it costs more? In some ways, yes. You are guaranteed to get a quality and valuable piece of jewelry when you purchase white gold.

But don’t fret if you are in search of budget-friendly jewelry, because sterling silver is exceptional as well. You will pay a price that won’t require to dig too deep into your pocket and get a piece of jewelry that resembles white gold.

Which metal should you choose?

First and foremost, let us say that sterling silver and white gold are both fabulous options when buying jewelry. If you are looking for a piece that will last you a long time and won’t cost a fortune, you may want to go with sterling silver.

jewelry types

However, if you are looking for something high-end, super polished, and has financial value over time, then go for white gold.

However, whatever your preference is, you will not be disappointed in either white gold or sterling silver.

As long as you make sure to take care of your jewelry by cleaning it following our tips, it will keep its gorgeous shine and remain just as beautiful as the day you bought it!