Sterling Silver vs White Gold: Read Before Buying!

One of the most interesting and exciting things about jewelry is its diversity. You can find jewelry in any material and style that suits you. At first, it might be hard to tell the differences in metals, but you'll be spoilt for choice when you do. 

Today, we're talking about two metals that look similar but are very different. Sterling silver and white gold are indistinguishable to the novice, but we'll tell you all about the differences so you can make the right choice. 

Happy shopping!

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Sterling Silver vs. White Gold

Although sterling silver and white gold look similar, they have unique benefits and properties. Gold and silver are naturally occurring metals and soft in their natural state. So each metal requires the addition of other metals to make them of practical use for jewelry-making. 

Sterling Silver

Silver is a gorgeous, precious metal. It is shiny, smooth, and has a high electrical conductivity. In addition to being used for jewelry, silver is also used to make decorative pieces and coins. 

In its natural state, silver is too soft to be used alone in jewelry-making. It is often alloyed with copper, making it firmer, stronger, and more durable. When it's mixed with copper, it becomes sterling silver. You might also find your jewelry stamped with '925.' This stamp indicates the quality of the silver you have purchased. 

A hallmark stamped 925 means that for every thousand parts of alloy, 925 parts are pure silver, and 75 parts are other metals

Although the copper will cause the silver jewelry to tarnish, it can be easily remedied. Tarnish can be removed with a clean, soft cloth or by other simple methods.     

White Gold 

We've all seen yellow gold, but have you seen white gold? You probably have but didn't recognize it. Unlike yellow gold, white gold is not naturally occurring because you can't mine white gold. It is an alloy of yellow gold produced by mixing it with nickel, palladium, silver, or zinc to make it appear like platinum. 

We use karats (K) to indicate the purity of gold alloys, with 24 K being the highest quality of yellow gold and 21 K for white gold. White gold, which is 75% pure, is rated at 18 K, while 58.5% pure is rated at 14 K. 

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Cost Differences

Generally speaking, gold is more valuable and hence, more expensive than silver. Silver is an excellent choice if you want something that looks high-quality but has an affordable price tag. Fortunately, you can find almost every type and style of jewelry piece in beautiful silver. Remember that when you add diamonds or other gemstones to your jewelry, the price can also significantly increase. 

White gold was initially designed as a more affordable alternative to platinum. White gold has the advantage of being harder and more resilient than platinum, which is much softer and susceptible to damage. So, it looks like platinum without its hefty price tag or vulnerabilities. The value of white gold is not minimized because of the other metals that create the alloy. The value is always based on the amount and quality of pure gold included. 


wo white gold engagement rings on a glass table with other diamonds.


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Durability Differences

White gold will give you longer life, especially for items you wear every day. Sterling silver can become damaged more easily than white gold and doesn't do as well when exposed to the elements. White gold is an excellent choice for wedding rings.  


At close inspection, it isn't difficult to see that sterling silver is brighter than white gold. It has a smoother and shinier appearance that is especially attractive for necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. This level of shine doesn't look as good on rings with inset diamonds and gemstones. 

White gold is coated or dipped in rhodium, a precious metal in the platinum family. It provides a silver luster that preserves the shine, protects against tarnishing, and adds its 'hardness' to guard against scratches or dents. When rhodium adds its white gleam to white gold jewelry, it covers all remaining yellow tint for a pristine and long-lasting finish. 

Sterling silver may also be dipped in rhodium to preserve that gorgeous luster, prevent tarnishing, and to give longevity to your jewelry. 


A pair of silver oval hoop earrings on a black cloth


Care & Maintenance

Even if you follow all recommended guidelines for caring for your sterling silver, it may still tarnish or become black. But that's no reason not to purchase it. You can restore sterling silver to its natural luster with a good polish or responsible practices. But to prevent tarnish formation, store your silver properly, polish often, and protect your pieces from heat and moisture. 

White gold requires less maintenance than sterling silver and won't tarnish over time. You don't have to clean it as often, and it isn't as vulnerable to scratches or bending. It can lose its shine, but it can be restored if you tend it well or have a professional care for it. Of course, the covering metals can wear away, revealing some of the yellow tint from the yellow gold. A professional can re-coat your piece and make it look like new.     

Nickel Allergy

Often when people think they're allergic to white gold, it might be that they're actually allergic to nickel. As earlier stated, nickel may be used with yellow gold to create white gold alloy. Many jewelers now use a hypoallergenic coating on jewelry to avoid this issue. If you think you have a metal allergy, check for this hypoallergenic coating and the other metals used in the piece you want to purchase.

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Which is Best for You?

It's evident that white gold and sterling silver have their own advantages and disadvantages. When weighing up which one to purchase, consider how you will wear the jewelry, your lifestyle, and of course, your budget. Each of these alloys lends itself to being more suitable for certain kinds of jewelry. 

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