Yellow Gold Vs. White Gold. Many people ask what is the difference between yellow gold and white gold? What is white gold made from? Which is better? Here’s an explanation of the differences, as well as the pros and cons of each.
What is yellow gold?
Yellow gold – or simply, gold – is a precious metal that occurs naturally. It’s a very soft metal and in its purest form it bends easily out of shape.
That’s why jewellers who use gold in jewellery need to mix it with harder alloy metals. These help to make the gold more durable and keep its shape.
What is white gold?
White gold doesn’t exist naturally. We make it from yellow gold that has been combined with white precious metal alloys like palladium and silver. These give the gold a paler colour, as well as more rigidity.
Additionally, white gold is given a final coating with a rare, silvery-white metal called rhodium. It gives white gold its white, luminous sheen.
A diamond engagement ring – one in yellow and one in white gold
Carats and purity
You may have heard the term “carat”, commonly abbreviated with the letter “K”. It’s a measurement used to describe the purity of gold.
This same carat measurement applies to both yellow gold and white gold.
We measure carats on a scale of 24, where “24 carat” (or 24K) represents pure gold. 9K gold is therefore 37.5% gold, and 18K gold is 75% gold. The remainder is a mixture of precious alloy metals we use to harden the gold.
It’s common for jewellers to offer both white and yellow gold jewellery in 18K and 9K, to suit the buyer’s style and budget.
Jeweller selling gold jewellery that in the UK must hallmark their items at one of the government Assay Offices. They only need to hallmark items that weigh more than 1 gram though. What this means is that the item’s gold carat weight is officially certified.
Ring being positioned for hallmarking stamp at the London Assay Office
Yellow gold vs. white gold – verdict
The most obvious difference between white gold and yellow gold is simply the way it looks. Some people prefer the unique warm glow of yellow gold. Others feel that white gold suits their skin tone better.
Here are all the pros and cons of each type of gold:
Yellow gold pros and cons
- Unlike white gold and platinum, which both appear the same, the colour of yellow gold is very hard to imitate.
- Diamonds set in yellow gold tend to stand out more than those set in white gold, because of the colour contrast.
- Yellow gold is very easy for jewellers to work with. If you knock and damage your jewellery, a repair seam in most cases is very easy to disguise.
- Most people consider yellow gold is more classic or traditional, compared to the more “modern looking” white gold. That’s why in the recent years white gold has been the overwhelming trend.
White gold pros and cons
- Many people prefer white gold because of its silvery white colour. It’s less expensive than platinum, yet provides a far more valuable and hard alternative to silver.
- There is no price- or value difference between the actual gold present in white and yellow gold jewellery, as long the hallmarked shows the same carat weight. So for example, 18K white gold and 18K yellow gold will contain the same percentage of gold.
- However, white gold jewellery can be slightly more expensive than yellow gold jewellery, because of the manufacturing process it undergoes while being mixed and coated.
- White gold will also need periodic maintenance and re-coating. Whilst this isn’t expensive and can be done at almost any jewellers, the cost does add up over the years. (Some people therefore prefer platinum.)
Diamonds stand out beautifully in yellow gold
At the end of the day, choosing white or yellow gold is really just a question of personal preference. If you’re not sure which one to go for, choose an item of jewellery that is available in both gold types and compare them side by side. If you feel more excited about wearing one item than another, that’s what you should choose.
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Want to learn more? Read White Gold vs Platinum and All About Rose Gold.
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