Silver vs white gold, which has a better value? Silver and white gold might have the same color and luster, but the similarities end there. Each has unique advantages and disadvantages that can affect their value, depending on how you plan to use them.
Whether you’re looking to invest in these precious metals or buy them in the form of jewelry, it’s a good idea to know the critical differences between the two to help make a better-informed buying decision.
Metallurgists and jewelers make white gold by mixing pure gold with other metals. The combination creates a strong and rigid alloy with a silvery hue.
Gold, on its own, has a wide range of uses, but it’s also a relatively weak and malleable metal. Unlike most other metals, it’s soft and easily deformed. This characteristic isn’t a problem if you use gold as an investment vehicle in the form of bars and coins. However, it’s a different story if used in jewelry, because gold’s softness can cause a piece’s value to decline.
As a solution to gold’s softness, metallurgists mix it with other metals like rhodium. The latter material adds durability to gold when they are combined. This process also imbues the gold with a different color, one that’s more lustrous and silvery. The rhodium can wear off without proper care, and the gold will slowly revert to its original yellow color.
Other metals used to make gold stronger include copper and silver, with the resulting alloy being durable, hypoallergenic, and still reasonably malleable. Gold and nickel also make a robust alloy, but many jewelers avoid using it because some people have adverse allergic reactions to nickel. If you’re planning on purchasing white gold, whether to wear or as an investment piece, always check its metallic composition. In general, every type of white gold should at least contain 50 percent of pure gold.
As an element on the periodic table, silver is a pure metal, not an alloy. People mine this metal in natural deposits across different parts of the globe, unlike white gold, which can only be made artificially. Like gold, silver acts as a safe-haven asset for many investors. Silver bars are usually composed of pure silver, while silver coins typically contain a bit of copper to make them stronger. Because of their purity, silver items are generally easier to appraise than white gold.
When it comes to making jewelry, sterling silver is the most popular form of silver used.
Pure silver is too malleable and easily loses its shape, so jewelers combine it with more durable metals. While you can find fine silver (99.9% silver purity) jewelry, its softness makes it less ideal for specific items like rings.
Metallurgists combine silver with metals like zinc, nickel, or copper to produce a durable alloy. All silver alloys with at least a 92.5% silver purity are called sterling silver.
As we’ve mentioned, white gold and silver are very similar in hue. They both have a greyish, lustrous appearance that makes it easy to mistake one for the other. One slight difference for those with a keen eye is that silver often has a slightly brighter appearance.
With that said, the colors of white gold and silver (if it’s a sterling silver alloy) may vary depending on their percentage of purity and the metals used to make them stronger.
Investment metals are often marked to indicate their material and percentage of purity, making it easier to assess their value. For instance, platinum pieces often come labeled with Plat, PT, or Pt.
Metallurgists and appraisers mark gold pieces with the letter K, which stands for karat. Karat is a measurement unit that identifies a gold item’s purity, with 24 being the purest. White gold itself doesn’t have a unique hallmark. If you see a silvery item, but it has a karat mark, it’s likely white gold.
Silver, on the other hand, is marked by a number. For instance, a silver item marked “999” denotes 99.9% purity. For silver jewelry, the most typical marking is 925 for sterling silver. Genuine sterling silver can also have a unique hallmark that uses the letters STG, STER, STERLING, or Sterling Silver.
If you’re looking to buy a piece of jewelry that will likely see regular use, white gold is typically the better choice in terms of wear-resistance and durability. Keep in mind that a higher percentage of gold makes for a softer alloy. Most white gold pieces offered today have rhodium plating to improve their durability and give them a whiter shine, but it only lasts a couple of years before wearing off altogether.
Because of silver’s softness and malleability, it’s prone to scratch markings and natural wear and tear. Over time, silver can also slightly change shape, while white gold offers better resistance against impact and corrosion. On the other hand, Sterling silver provides more durability than its purer variants thanks to its more robust alloy combinations.
To give you an idea of the two metals’ price disparity, gold is currently priced at $1,899.18/toz, while silver is $23.81/toz. The latter’s affordability might make it a better choice for jewelry, while gold is more suitable for investments. Gold and white gold have a very similar price range because it all depends on their purity. Some white gold pieces may be more expensive because they contain rhodium, which is a pricey metal.
White gold is easier to maintain because it is resistant to oxidation and tarnishing. For jewelry, minimal cleaning helps retain their sheen. However, white gold that uses rhodium plating can wear out over time and revert to its original yellow color. You can have a professional jeweler re-plate the rhodium or use a more durable and less expensive metal.
Silver quickly tarnishes when exposed to moisture and air, much like copper, brass, and bronze. If left untreated, silver begins to develop a dark patina. Some people like this discoloration because it gives silver pieces a certain character and depth, while others might prefer a lustrous and well-maintained item.
The most significant difference between silver and white gold is the price. Silver is much more affordable and offers a very similar appearance to white gold. If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of quality sterling silver pieces available on the market. You can also invest in a more expensive white gold item. The price tag might be worth it if you want a more durable piece.
As seen from the characteristics we’ve mentioned, silver and white gold have unique pros and cons. Depending on your needs, choosing one metal may be preferable over the other. Silver requires more maintenance and is prone to tarnishing. White gold is durable but also very expensive.
Gold and silver are both valuable metals that many people use as an investment vehicle. However, their less pure variants (white gold and sterling silver) are less desirable from an investment standpoint.
Most appraisers only value sterling silver for its silver content. Sterling silver pieces with official hallmarks that denote high silver purity have an equal or higher value. However, you will find that most individuals who purchase sterling silver are more interested in melting it down to separate the silver from the rest of its metal contents. As a result, these buyers typically offer only a percentage of the sterling silver’s actual price.
Similarly, white gold is not a traditional investment vehicle, but you can still use it for investment purposes. Investors typically prefer pure gold in the form of bars and coins for more accessible storage and appraisal. On the other hand, white gold isn’t readily available in these forms and lacks in securities that allow for its investment.
Regardless, any white gold or sterling silver pieces that you have still hold value. The extent of this value primarily depends on the price fluctuations of their pure metal variants (gold and silver). When it comes to jewelry, you might have a more challenging time selling these due to aesthetic preferences. Generally speaking, jewelry is not a good investment vehicle because most pieces tend to depreciate, even if they are well-maintained.
If you’re interested in precious metal investing, pure gold and silver are both safe and valuable investments. Standardized metal bars or coins are one of the easiest ways you can begin investing in precious metals. Oxford Gold Group provides a safe and easy way to find and purchase gold and silver for your investment journey.
If you want to know more about securing your finances in reliable metal investments like gold, silver, palladium, and platinum, we would be happy to answer any of your questions and concerns. Consult with one of our partners today at (833) 600-GOLD.
INSIDE THIS INVESTMENT GUIDE YOU WILL LEARN:
• How Gold & Silver can protect your savings & retirement accounts
• Types of Gold & Silver products available for Home Delivery
• How a Gold & Silver IRA can protect your Retirement account