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You might have wondered which precious metal, silver or white gold, has more value and makes a better investment. While silver and white gold may look very similar, the two metals are quite different.
Whether you’re shopping for a new piece of jewelry or planning to diversify your wealth portfolio by investing in precious metals, it’s important to know the difference between white gold and silver. Read on as our finance experts from Oxford Gold Group explain these distinct white metals, including which is more valuable, how to tell them apart, and factors that affect pricing.
Between White Gold and Silver, Which is More Valuable?
The cost of white gold and silver varies based on supply and demand, availability, and inflation. However, white gold is more valuable and expensive than silver. Why? It has to do with the composition of each metal.
Composition of White Gold
White gold is an alloy metal, which means that it’s a mixture of more than one metal. Essentially, a white gold alloy (e.g., an 18k white gold ring) consists of 75% pure yellow gold and 25% other metals, such as nickel, zinc, or palladium. However, a white gold and nickel alloy is worth less than a white gold and palladium alloy, as the latter contains more expensive metal.
In addition, most white gold jewelry has rhodium plating to prevent tarnishing. Rhodium, in the platinum family, is the most expensive precious metal on Earth.
Composition of Sterling Silver
Alternatively, sterling silver consists of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, such as copper or nickel. Pure silver is very soft, so jewelers often mix it with other metals, like zinc, copper, or nickel, to add strength. However, nickel isn’t hypoallergenic, so copper is the more popular choice for sterling silver.
The prices for gold and silver that were current as of this article’s publication include:
Silver: $25.84 per troy oz
Gold: $1,774.70 per troy oz
White gold doesn’t occur naturally. However, remember that it’s alloyed with other metals, like nickel or palladium. So, even though the shiny white metal is cheaper than pure gold, it’s still more expensive than pure silver.
How To Tell the Difference Between White Gold and Silver
When looking at white gold and silver, these soft metals have nearly indistinguishable initial appearances. However, there are fundamental differences between the two metals. So whether you’re buying a white gold engagement ring or investing in silver for your wealth portfolio, it’s essential to be well-informed.
Both white gold and silver look very similar, and, understandably, people often mistake the two at first glance. They’re smooth, with a grayish-white hue that’s perfect for showcasing cooler skin tones.
However, sterling silver has a deeper, more lustrous complexion, whereas white gold has a brilliant white appearance thanks to its rhodium plating. In addition, older silver products may have noticeable tarnish or a dark-colored patina on their surface.
Remember, pure gold and pure silver are soft, scratch easily, and, therefore, aren’t ideal for jewelry in their pure form. So both white gold and sterling silver jewelry are metal alloys to increase their hardness and durability.
However, when comparing white gold vs. silver in terms of durability, white gold is usually the better choice as it contains high-quality alloy metals. Pure silver jewelry isn’t strong enough to withstand the daily wear and tear most jewelry items go through. Sterling silver is better, but it’s still a soft metal that can change shape with everyday wear.
White gold is a popular choice for fine jewelry. As it features protective rhodium plating, white gold is scratch-resistant and durable. Many people choose white gold over silver for fine jewelry (like an engagement ring), and it’s no surprise the brilliantly white metal is in high demand.
Did you ever have a silver piece of jewelry that developed a dark-colored patina on its surface? Due to moisture and oxygen exposure, regular and sterling silver alloys (with copper, nickel, etc.) can tarnish very quickly.
Here’s one of our best jewelry tips: You can easily clean off tarnish using a combination of cornstarch, lemon juice, and vinegar, or you can take it to a professional and have them polish your silver jewelry.
Due to its rhodium plating, a white gold alloy doesn’t tarnish or require the same periodic polishing as sterling silver. However, the plating can wear out over time and slowly revert to its yellow color. Fortunately, it’s easy to have a jewelry store replate white gold.
What Is White Gold Made Of?
The composition of white gold varies, although the standard is 75% pure gold and 25% other metals, such as nickel, palladium, copper, or even silver. White gold (mainly jewelry) often features rhodium plating, which makes it stronger and gives it that shiny white color.
Does White Gold or Silver Tarnish Faster?
Would a sterling silver or white gold ring tarnish faster? Well, technically, white gold doesn’t tarnish like silver does. Instead, the rhodium plating surrounding it may wear off gradually and reveal its original yellow color. Fortunately, a jewelry store can easily recoat a worn-away white gold piece.
Sterling silver, on the other hand, tarnishes quickly due to heat and moisture exposure, developing a dark-colored patina. You can easily remove the tarnish from silver jewelry by cleaning it regularly and storing it in a cool, dark, dry place.
Factors Affecting the Price of White Gold vs. Silver
Like other metals (platinum, nickel, copper, etc.), silver and white gold prices vary quickly and often due to multiple factors, including:
Supply and Demand: Greater supply drives down prices and lowers demand. A smaller supply causes higher demand and rising prices.
Inflation: America is facing a 40-year inflation high, which drives up the price of gold and silver.
Economic Data: In times of economic uncertainty, the value of silver, gold, platinum, etc., drives up prices. When the economy is strong, the prices drop.
Production: The production of silver, gold, and other metals also affects pricing. Countries with political unrest or supply chain difficulties can disrupt production and transport, causing the price of rare Earth metals to rise sharply.
White Gold vs. Silver: Which Is Better for Jewelry?
So, when comparing white gold vs. silver, which metal is best for jewelry? Of course, it depends on personal preference. However, here are some additional factors to consider when determining whether silver or white gold jewelry is best for you, whether you’re shopping for an engagement ring or just an everyday costume jewelry necklace to wear.
Budget: Silver is cheaper than white gold, making it popular for shoppers on a budget. That doesn’t mean that silver pieces look cheap or like costume jewelry, though. Lots of sterling silver jewelry (and fine silver, which is 99% pure) is beautiful, finely crafted, and perfect for high-class events. However, white gold looks just as beautiful, despite its higher price tag.
Content: People with skin sensitivities may want to choose white gold over sterling silver. Why? Some sterling silver contains nickel, which can cause an allergic reaction in people with sensitive skin. The safest bet is a nickel-free, white gold alloy containing palladium.
Maintenance: Silver jewelry requires more maintenance than white gold because the metal tarnishes quickly. While the rhodium plating on white gold may wear out eventually, silver tarnishes much faster and more frequently.
Which Is the Better Investment: Silver or White Gold?
Investing in silver, white gold, and other metals is a personal decision you should consider carefully. However, many people prefer to invest in precious metals because they are an excellent way to diversify a wealth portfolio and mitigate risk. In addition, investing in physical assets like gold and silver instead of paper assets (i.e., stocks, bonds, etc.) is a “safe haven” investment, because they hold inherent value.
Options for investing in silver include direct purchases of bullion or bars, opening a silver IRA, or purchasing silver coins or jewelry. As white gold isn’t a naturally occurring element, the best way to invest in this metal is by purchasing a fine jewelry piece or coins. Of course, it’s also simple to invest directly in yellow gold bullion and bars or open a gold IRA.
Start Investing in Precious Metals Today with Oxford Gold Group
When comparing silver vs. white gold, is there a definitive answer as to which metal is better or more valuable than the other? Ultimately, white gold is more expensive than silver, as it contains valuable metals like gold, palladium, and rhodium. Conversely, silver is more affordable, easier to invest in, and has higher liquidity.
Are you interested in learning more about white gold and silver or other metals for investing? We’d be happy to help. Call us at Oxford Gold Group today at (833) 600-GOLD to speak with one of our finance experts and learn more about precious metal investing.