Platinum and gold are two precious metals revered for their appearance and value. Both are great investments and gorgeous gifts, but they do have some notable differences. Some of these differences are immediately apparent, and others are more surprising.
Below, we’ll examine the color, comfort, appearance, maintenance, durability, and value of these precious metals. Keep reading to learn how gold vs. platinum compare.
Face to Face Comparison: Platinum Vs. Gold
Platinum vs. Gold: Color
Color is the most distinguishable difference between platinum and gold. Platinum is exclusively white, and most people associate gold with yellow. However, gold comes in many shades with white gold being the closest to platinum in appearance.
White gold contains alloys of durable metals like nickel, zinc, and copper with a rhodium plating. Platinum, on the other hand, has a pure 95-98% platinum composition with minimal alloys mixed in.
With white gold, you have a rhodium plating that gives it a bright silvery-white color and protects your ring. But, over time, the rhodium plating fades away and gives the white gold a more yellow appearance. When that happens, you can have it replated by your jeweler to restore its white color. Platinum, on the other hand, will never turn yellow as its color occurs naturally.
Both gold and platinum have a lustrous surface, but platinum maintains the shiny look longer than white gold. White gold will lose its brilliance after a few years and need polishing and replating.
Platinum vs. Gold: Comfort in Wearing
When creating jewelry, other alloys (metals) are mixed in to change the color, strength, shine, etc. However, some of these metals can trigger skin reactions. The most notable offender is nickel. If you have sensitive skin or an allergy to nickel, then opt for “hypoallergenic” options.
Platinum, for example, is a hypoallergenic metal, so it is highly unlikely to trigger a skin allergy. When considering gold, yellow gold is the most hypoallergenic version of gold (white gold, rose gold, etc. all have higher percentages of other metals mixed in).
When it comes to the weight of your piece, gold is lighter and less dense than platinum, so it may prove more comfortable to wear.
In terms of scratches, platinum scratches more readily than 14k gold because it’s softer. 14k gold has a 58.3% gold composition, with the rest being alloys that make it hard to scratch or dent.
However, the advantage of platinum is that it doesn’t lose any platinum when it’s scratched. Instead, the platinum metal just shifts to another part of the surface. This can be easily repaired and buffed to restore the flawless surface. When you scratch gold, the actual metal comes off the surface which makes buffing a little more challenging.
Also, scratched platinum rings have an antique-looking patina finish, which may be desirable to some people.
Platinum vs Gold: Appearance
Platinum and white gold look very similar to each other, but platinum will retain its appearance for longer because of its purity and strength. White gold will have to be re-plated every few years which isn’t a big deal but it’s slightly more work.
If you’re not married to a white-colored metal, yellow gold is a great option for a number of reasons. It requires less maintenance than other shades and, if you’re shopping for an engagement ring, you can opt for a slightly tinted diamond.
A diamond with a tint will be noticeable against a white metal like platinum. However, a slightly tinted diamond will contrast well against yellow gold and appear to be colorless.
Red, pink, and rose golds all have different mixes of copper and silver with the gold to alter the color. This can be a great option if you like the rosey color and want a durable piece of jewelry that’s also affordable.
Platinum vs. Gold: Maintenance
White gold needs the most upkeep to maintain its color. You will need to polish and replate it every few years to prevent it from turning yellow. Yellow gold and rose gold require polishing and sometimes replating to maintain their appearance, but you can stick to home cleanings most of the time.
Like all jewelry, platinum also tends to scratch and becomes dull over time. But you can typically get away with home cleanings to keep it bright. Additionally, when you polish platinum, it smooths the piece rather than thinning the metal which means you can do it as often as you like.
If low maintenance is high on your list platinum is your best option. In order from lowest to highest maintenance, it goes platinum, rose gold, yellow gold, white gold. Platinum is the lowest maintenance and white gold is the highest.
Platinum vs. Gold: Strength and Durability
While both precious metals are strong, platinum is more durable than gold. Its high density and chemical composition make it less likely to break than gold, so it lasts longer. The chemical structure also means that the metal displaces on the surface when it is hit so you don’t lose any of the precious metal.
Despite being stronger, platinum is also softer than 14k gold. As a result, it scratches faster. However, higher karat golds (18k & 24k) are significantly softer and on par with platinum as far as scratching goes.
The most durable of the golds is rose gold due to its high copper content.
Platinum vs. Gold: Value
Platinum is almost always more valuable than gold. It’s a rarer metal, and platinum rings have higher densities and purities than gold rings. You also need more platinum to make a ring, so they often cost 40-50% more than gold.
Platinum also has a sense of prestige. For instance, American Express Platinum credit cards have higher membership rewards than Gold ones.
Metaphors about credits aside, a white gold ring costs much less than platinum for a similar appearance. And while its value depends on the karat, you will almost always pay less for gold than platinum.
Here are a few answers to our most frequently asked questions about gold vs. platinum.
Is Platinum Better Than Gold?
Platinum lasts longer and can require less upkeep than gold. It’s pure, hypoallergenic, and a classic option. However, gold is more malleable, scratch-resistant, and affordable. Gold also comes in several color options whereas platinum is always silver-white colored. Neither is inherently better than the other as they each have their benefits and drawbacks.
How Do You Keep Platinum From Scratching?
Jewelry, whether platinum or gold, will get scratched. However, the best way to minimize the scratches is to consciously wear your piece. For example, don’t wear it to the gym where it’s likely to make contact with the metal bar and get scratched.
Over time, with normal wear, it will naturally incur some scratching no matter how careful you are. It’s natural for this to happen. Fortunately, platinum doesn’t lose metal from the surface so you can easily polish it without thinning your piece.
Can You Tell The Difference Between Platinum And White Gold?
It’s hard to tell the difference between the two with the naked eye at first. But over time, the rhodium plating on white gold can wear down and begin to show a yellowish tint. If you replate it when the white fades, they go back to being nearly indistinguishable.
Which Is the Better Choice If I Want My Ring to be Engraved?
Both platinum and gold can be engraved without issue, so you don’t need to factor that in when making a decision.
Which Is a Better Investment: Platinum or Gold?
Platinum lasts longer and has a higher value, making it a better investment than gold. However, gold is still an excellent choice and still a very precious metal.
Three Types of Gold
The three types of gold are yellow, white, and rose.
Yellow gold is made of gold, copper, and zinc. Its purity depends on its karat rating, but higher karat golds are less durable.
- The most hypoallergenic version of gold
- Most widely used
- Suits warm skin tones
- Works well with lower color grade diamonds
- Needs regular cleanings and polishes
- May dent and scratch
White gold can contain nickel, palladium, silver, and rhodium. It’s stronger than yellow gold and priced similarly.
- Affordable alternative to platinum
- More durable than yellow gold
- Fairly scratch-resistant
- Complements cool skin
- Has a shiny white color
- Needs frequent replating to stay shiny and white
- Usually not hypoallergenic
There are three types of rose gold: pink, red, and rose. Each has a 75% gold composition, alloyed with different levels of copper and silver. Pink gold has a softer color due to its 20% copper and 5% silver composition. Red gold has 25% copper and no silver, giving it a brighter color. Lastly, rose gold has 22.25% copper and 2.75% silver for a soft yet vibrant shade.
- One of the most affordable golds
- Tougher and more durable than white and yellow gold
- Has a unique appearance
- Complements all skin
- Not hypoallergenic
- Not widely available
Platinum vs. Gold: What’s The Best Choice For You?
Platinum and gold are both attractive options when shopping for precious metals. You should choose platinum if you have a higher budget and want a high-quality, low-maintenance metal. If you prefer the white color yet don’t have platinum money yet, then choose white gold. Yellow gold works well if you want something with a vintage setting, and rose gold adds an even more romantic touch.
Regardless of the metal you choose, there are tons of pieces available to match your style. So choose something that makes sense when you consider your budget, other jewelry, and personal preference.