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White Gold vs. Silver: What’s the Difference?

White gold and silver metals are two of the most common metals. Choosing between the two metals can be challenging because of their physical and qualities. Outside of initial appearance, there are several characteristics and qualities that separate white gold and silver. Keep reading to understand the differences between white gold and silver. Our precious metals guide is a great resource to choose the right metal for you.

Picking out a metal is a very important element in any jewelry purchase. With so many different types of metals it can be challenging to find the perfect metal type.

Ultimately, picking out a metal type comes down to these factors: preference, budget, and the jewelry type you want to wear. Both metals are beautiful and popular choice, but which one is right for you? To help with your decision between white gold and silver, we put together an in-depth comparison between the two.

What’s white gold made of?

White gold is made up of pure gold along with other white metals called alloys. These additional white metals or alloys strengthen the metal itself by making it harder, creating a bright white finish. The metals commonly used in white gold include: nickel, silver, palladium contributing to its unique composition, durability, and appearance.

At Brilliant Earth, our white gold jewelry ranges in carat level between 14-18. Carat level is used to determine purity or the percentage of pure gold within white gold.

To calculate the percentage of pure gold within white gold, simply divide the number of carats by twenty-four. A 14k white gold piece is 58.3% is pure gold and 41.7% other alloys or metals. 18k white gold is 75% pure gold and 25% alloys or other metals.

What’s silver made of?

Silver is a natural precious metal that is very soft and malleable in its pure form. Silver is often alloyed with other metals like copper or nickel to make it stronger, creating beautiful and timeless jewelry. When silver and copper are mixed, the end result is sterling silver containing 92.5% pure silver.

Both silver and copper are hypoallergenic, making sterling silver an excellent option for anyone with sensitive skin.  Sterling silver is one of the most commonly purchased and affordable white colored metals because of its hypoallergenic composition.

Because copper is in sterling silver, it will oxidize over time making it important to polish sterling silver jewelry occasionally to avoid discoloration.

White Gold vs. Silver – The Main Differences


White gold is made up of pure gold along with other alloyed white metals. The makeup of pure gold will fluctuate depending on the carat level. 18k white gold is the highest composition of pure gold at 75%, while 14k white gold is 58.3% pure gold.

Silver is a softer, more malleable natural precious metal. Silver is commonly alloyed with other metals, primarily copper to create jewelry pieces. The result after being alloyed is 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper, making it a perfect combination for beautiful jewelry.

Care and Maintenance

White gold comes with a rhodium plating, which helps protect your jewelry from scratches, lengthening your jewelry’s lifespan. Rhodium is a metal in the platinum family which protects your jewelry from scratches and other blemishes.

Over time, the rhodium plating can change color from shiny white to yellow. You will need to have the rhodium plating reapplied every few years to keep the shiny white appearance.

Sterling silver will last for years with proper care and polishing. Regular cleaning with mild soap, warm water, and a soft bristled brush can keep your silver’s shiny appearance and prevent tarnishing.

Silver can be worn in the rain or the shower, however it is recommended to avoid excessive humidity, and moisture to prevent discolorations. Avoiding chlorine, harsh chemicals, and even saltwater will help prevent your silver from tarnishing and keeping its original appearance.

Silver is susceptible to scratches and bends due to wear and tear than white gold.

Color and Luster

White gold’s popularity stems from its mirror-like and vibrant white color, which stands out from other metals. The white color comes from pure gold blended with a variety of other metals. The mirror-like white shine stands out because of the rhodium plating added to the metal for engagement rings and wedding rings.

Silver’s color is predominantly a gray-white hue. Silver jewelry is very shiny and polished because of its composition. It is often a complimentary piece to other jewelry, diamonds, or gemstones.


White gold is a more expensive metal because of the gold composition, however, is still an excellent alternative to higher-priced metals like platinum. If you are looking for a classic engagement ring, wedding ring, or a piece of fine jewelry white gold offers great long-term value.

Silver is a more affordable option largely due to more supply available than gold. It provides excellent value for those on a tighter budget without sacrificing sparkle and brilliance.


White Gold provides long lasting sturdiness thanks to the protective rhodium coating added making it less susceptible to normal wear and tear and scratches. The carat level impacts the sturdiness and hardness of white gold. The lower the carat level the more durable white gold is because it has less pure gold and more alloy metals.

Silver on its own is not durable and not used by itself in jewelry. Sterling silver alloyed with copper or nickel is extremely sturdy and durable because of the presence of other metals. Sterling silver pieces do not tarnish or scratch easily and can often be worn for a lifetime with regular cleaning/maintenance.

Skin Sensitivity

Those with sensitive skin may be more susceptible to white gold because of the metal nickel that is found in it. To prevent allergic reactions or further skin issues, purchasing a platinum metal is a great alternative. Platinum is fully hypoallergenic and available at Brilliant Earth.

Sterling silver is hypoallergenic, making it a great option for anyone with sensitive skin or allergies. If you are still concerned about any allergens, you can also request a hypoallergenic coat added to your jewelry.

How to Tell the Difference Between Silver and White Gold

Because white gold and silver look similar, it can be difficult to tell them apart to the naked eye. Here are a few tips that can help you avoid mixing them up:

How to Choose Between Silver and White Gold: Pros and Cons

Choosing between silver and white gold can be a difficult decision to make. To help narrow down your decision we put together the Pros/Cons of these metals.

Pros of White Gold

Pros of Silver

Cons of White Gold

Cons of Silver


Is white gold better than silver?

Neither metal is better than the other, however it is important to understand what you are looking for when deciding on a metal. Know your lifestyle and personal preferences, coupled with your available budget. There are great options available to suit every budget in both white gold and silver, with both offering a beautiful and timeless look.

Is white gold more valuable than silver?

Overall, white gold’s value over time is a major benefit when considering a jewelry purchase. Because white gold is comprised of mostly gold, it holds greater value over time.

Is white gold more expensive than silver?

White gold is more expensive than silver because gold is the primary metal. Gold is a rarer metal than silver with less supply available in the market.

Which is better for an engagement ring?

White gold is a great option for an engagement ring because of its durability and long-term value. White gold often requires less maintenance than silver and is a more affordable option than a platinum setting.

Final Thoughts

Deciding whether to buy white gold or silver can be a difficult task if you don’t know the differences between the two. We hope this provided valuable insights before making your purchase.

At Brilliant Earth, there are many beautiful options that fit any budget and personal preference to create your perfect look!

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