Thanks to recent advancements in smelting and materials engineering, people nowadays have unlimited options when purchasing precious metals as accessories.
When it comes to buying precious metals, it’s different strokes for different folks. However, with the number of options out there today, it’s only natural to have a degree of confusion when you’re choosing what to get. Many people still mistake iron sulfide for genuine gold, and who can blame them: It takes a trained eye to distinguish between fool’s gold and the real thing.
The same confusion arises when people choose between white gold and sterling silver. If you’re shopping for a ring, bracelet, or necklace for someone special, it’s essential to know even the minor differences between the two before you can make an informed decision.
Depending on which country you’re buying from, sterling silver can be worth more than white gold and vice versa, so you need to have a keen eye on the precious metals market before you fork out your hard-earned money.
White gold and sterling silver are nearly identical in color. To the average person who relies on a jeweler or appraiser to differentiate between precious metals, they can be the same. People can mold them into rings, sconces, and chandeliers, and their friends would be none the wiser about which is which. However, if you’re in the market for genuine gold and silver, it pays to know the minute differences between the two so you can get your money’s worth.
Read through this guide before purchasing to know which one is right for you.
Silver and gold are precious metals that people have been using for currency, jewelry, and machine parts since ancient times. Today, people still use the phrase “worth its weight in gold,” which dates back to the Gold Standard when Europe and America’s money was only worth as much as their gold production capabilities and not set by an all-encompassing government. Many citizens from both continents still argue that the Gold Standard should be the only determinant of economic value.
Before silver and gold become rings, anklets, or decorative cutlery, people mine these metals from the ground as soft and malleable materials impractical to use independently. Your wedding ring might have some genuine gold in it, but it is likely not 100% gold. Gold and silver without their alloys are easily mangled and don’t stand up well to the rigors of life.
Most silver articles have copper in them so people can wear them to engagement parties and high society dinners without worrying about things like rigidity, contour, and breaking their engravement patterns. If you see a label with the numbers .925 on a silver item, it means it has at least 92.5% pure silver, and the rest are other metals like copper, platinum, or nickel. The same rules apply to gold.
Gold has a natural yellow color when miners take it out of the ground. To maintain its rigidity after fashioning it into bars, rings, and other accessories, goldsmiths combine it with copper, zinc, or nickel. When you combine gold with palladium, nickel, zinc, or a combination of all three, it will produce an understated silver color that will resemble platinum, creating the alloy people call white gold.
Sterling silver and white gold are nearly identical in weight, color, and overall visual appeal. Jewelers measure their purity with the same standards, and they’re both worth a fortune, especially when designers turn them into timeless embellishments.
People often use silver as a cost-efficient alternative to gold. Gold buyers often use white gold as an alternative to platinum. The similarities between white gold and sterling silver don’t stop at their physical characteristics.
Even though sterling silver and white gold have a ton of similarities, they have many differences that give them contrasting market prices, lengths of time before they tarnish, and uses. For example, because white gold is an alloy, there are no pure gold bars with the exact same color or 24-karat rings with the exact same silvery shine. In contrast, while sterling silver is an alloy, it has higher purity, so you can get closer to the real thing without sacrificing durability.
Metalworkers need to combine gold with enough palladium, zinc, and nickel to influence its appearance and give it a white color. Gold has a distinct deep yellow color that even a high percentage of copper won’t change. So, most yellow-gold products out there have a higher purity and karat count than white gold.
Pure gold items are 24 karats, meaning it’s 100% gold through and through. White gold items only go up to 21 karats, meaning the maximum purity you can get is 87.5%. Many purists don’t like the karat limit, but 87.5% is still pretty high, especially when you consider that most wedding bands on the market are 14 to 18 karats, which means they’re 58.5%, and 75% pure, respectively.
Many white gold rings, necklaces, and bracelets don’t reach the karat limit, so it always pays to check the tag. An accessory with a lower percentage of genuine gold will be more prone to tarnishing, rust, and wear and tear. If you live near the ocean where there is more salt in the air, you might want to invest in higher gold content pieces.
When you hear people say fine silver, they also mean sterling silver, and it’s different from pure silver that you can buy in the form of bars and coins. Sterling silver contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% other minerals as a default. If a silver item dips below the 92.5% mark, jewelers and metalworkers won’t call it sterling silver anymore, even when it has rhodium and platinum alloys, two metals more expensive than silver.
In most markets, gold is worth more than silver because it’s rarer, but both prices might fluctuate with today’s volatile economies, so you should always check online before buying. Even in the early days of civil service and currency, individuals and governments have seen gold and silver as hedges against inflation. Virtually every government in the world has a silver and gold reserve.
Sterling silver might have a higher purity than white gold, but in most places like the United States, the latter still beats it in terms of market value and desirability. Depending on the amount of genuine gold in a white gold item, its price can be double that of a sterling silver product, especially when you buy it from luxury fashion houses like Gucci, Bulgari, or Louis Vuitton.
Rhodium is one of the rarest and most expensive minerals on Earth, which is why a lot of jewelers and metallurgists consider it the peak of silver-colored jewelry. People who don’t have the budget to buy something so lavish usually use platinum as a stand-in, even though it’s more expensive than gold and silver. If you don’t want to pay for platinum, white gold is the next best thing, which sterling silver closely follows as an economical alternative.
Platinum, like pure gold, can get scratches, blemishes, and unwanted marks quickly. As a result, people often opt for white gold even if they have the money to buy platinum jewelry.
Suppose you want to purchase precious metal coins and bars that you plan to store in safety deposit boxes and vaults. In that case, you may want to consider pure gold and silver as they’re more resistant to humidity, tarnishing, and mold than any white gold and sterling silver item.
Most people will have a hard time telling white gold apart from sterling silver, but people who have been looking at jewelry for a long time can do it. White gold has a more muted, sophisticated sheen with a subdued yellow tinge, while sterling silver loves attention with its mirror-like body. People prefer white gold for wedding bands as they provide a more neutral setting for gemstones like diamonds, sapphires, and rubies.
Over time, silver will tarnish faster than gold, and many people have acquired a taste for the patina that forms on their silver jewelry, which in their opinion, provides depth and character. White gold items are generally more durable than silver, but both will blacken over time thanks to their metal zinc and nickel alloys.
Most gold and sterling silver buyers choose to dip their jewelry in rhodium to keep tarnishing at bay. If you decide to get both without a coating, white gold will last for decades without the need for cleaning, while sterling silver can start to tarnish within two months. Always have a commercial cleaner ready, so your silver jewelry can look its best.
If you’re looking to invest in sterling silver, white gold, or any other precious metals, come to our experts for professional advice. Contact Oxford Gold Group at 833-600-4653 and learn how precious metals can change your future today.
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