Whether you’re designing an engagement ring or wanting to make the most luxurious toilet paper holder, knowing the differences between white gold and yellow gold is a great place to start.  

The appearance, hardiness, and price point are all affected by the chemical differences between these two golds. 

Which will win in the age-old white gold vs. yellow gold debate? Let’s take a look…

White Gold vs. Yellow Gold: The Differences

Although both golds are made from the same base metal, they have key differences which set them apart. The most obvious difference is their appearance:

Appearance 

When we picture gold, it’s yellow gold that comes to mind. Yellow gold is the classic engagement ring metal, displaying the height of luxury and timeless style. Warm, inviting, and eye-catching, yellow gold will never go out of fashion. 

White gold is a cooler gold, which barely hints at the warmth of the base metal. Silver in appearance, white gold has a white sheen, is stronger than silver, and is more durable than yellow gold and silver.

Chemistry

The different tones of white and yellow gold are all due to their chemistry. Pure gold is 24 karats. Because the metal is so malleable on its own, it must be mixed with alloys to make it stronger. The amount of alloy metal gives you the 10K, 14K, and 18K gold varieties. 

Yellow gold is mixed with silver, copper, and zinc. White gold is mixed with nickel, platinum, palladium, and zinc. White gold is then coated with a rhodium plating to give it a shiny appearance. 

Because of these different alloys, yellow gold is hypoallergenic while white gold can irritate the skin. 

Durability and Maintenance 

When it comes to jewelry, white gold and yellow gold behave differently. Yellow gold is prone to scratches and needs rebuffing to restore luster if worn daily. At the same time, it is easy to work with and requires a small amount of maintenance overall.

White gold is extremely durable due to its rhodium coating and the harder alloyed metals. The downside is that when you need repairs, maintenance, or resizing, it gets pricey. Any work done on white gold requires an additional plating step – driving up the overall price. White gold jewelry will need periodic recoating of rhodium to keep it shiny and appealing. 

Cost 

The two golds have similar price points if they have the same presence of pure gold (karats.) The rhodium coating of white gold can drive up the price. If you were to buy gold coins online, you’d reap the benefits of yellow gold’s slightly lower price point!

Choosing Between White Gold and Yellow Gold

Now that you know the differences between the two, which is going to win in the age-old debate: white gold vs. yellow gold? Although similar in many ways, these two golds are different enough to require some thought when choosing between them. 

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