White Gold vs Platinum | The Best Metal for Your Special Ring

White Gold vs Platinum | The Best Metal for Your Special Ring

Both Gold and Platinum are beautiful, and relatively expensive, metals. Which would you prefer for your engagement ring or wedding ring? Is one metal clearly a better option for these special pieces?

Gold vs Platinum: Which metal is best for an engagement ring? Platinum rings are more durable and hypoallergenic than gold—but also more expensive. White Gold has a similar look, but requires more maintenance. Gold-filled, or Platinum-plated, Sterling Silver provides a luxury look and feel at a frugal price. Platinum is ultimately best, but comes at a cost.

There’s a lot that goes into an important the ultimate decision to go with gold or platinum for your ring. In the paragraphs that follow, I’ll give you the information that will help you to confidently decide on the metal that’s right for you.

What is White Gold?

There are several forms of gold commonly offered today for rings and other forms of jewelry. Yellow gold is probably the most common. Rose Gold is a combination of yellow gold and copper that has a more pink or reddish-pink coloring to it. I’ll primarily focus on White Gold as a possible alternative to Platinum throughout the remainder of this article, simply because the two look so similar (they’re very direct competitors).

White Gold also isn’t a naturally occurring form of gold. White gold is a man-made mixture of metals that includes yellow gold and other metal alloys. The final product has a beautiful siverly finish that pairs well with diamonds and other gems.

Because of the light coloring that white gold has, it complements clear and colorless diamonds and gems. Yellow gold can make a completely colorless stone appear to have a slightly yellowed tint because of the reflection of the metal. Fortunately, white gold won’t interfere negatively with the look of your center stones.

White Gold has become an incredibly popular option for engagement rings and wedding rings in recent decades. The metal looks a great deal like Platinum, but is typically quite a bit less expensive. It’s often chosen by those that are wanting to go a step up from Silver, but that can’t afford the cost of Platinum.

What is White Gold Made of?

Again, White Gold is a mix of Yellow Gold and other metal alloys like Copper, Silver, Nickel, Zinc, and Palladium. While each of those metals is frequently found in White Gold jewelry, each manufacturer uses different combinations and quantities of the.

Most people are surprised to learn that white gold isn’t really white. Remember that the largest ingredient in white gold is YELLOW gold. Copper also doesn’t move the mixture toward white. There are other additives like Silver and Palladium, for example, that lighten and dilute some of the colorings that those foundational metals bring, but the added metal alloys can’t produce the beautiful coloring that white gold is known for. If the metal mixture isn’t actually white, how does white gold get its color?

After the ring has been formed and stylized, it’s ‘dipped,’ or coated, in Rhodium. Rhodium is a member of the platinum family, so it has a similar look. That thin coating gives white gold the light-and-consistent coloring that has made it a popular option for brides and grooms around the globe.

Unfortunately, the wear and tear that rings endure as they’re worn through normal daily tasks wears down the thin layer of Rhodium, over time, until your white gold ring starts displaying a more-and-more obvious yellow tone. As the Rhodium gets thinner, the yellowish gold mixture that’s underneath begins to show through. The remedy is to have the ring re-dipped, so it has a fresh new coacting of Rhodium applied periodically.

While the procedure isn’t unreasonably expensive (about $40 or so), it can still be frustrating to have to leave your ring with a jeweler for several days every year or two AND pay money in order to keep the ring looking presentable.

10k White Gold Jewelry vs 14k, 18k, or 24k

White Gold is available in varying levels of quality, including 10k, 14k, and 18k. There are a few important things to understand about the rating of white gold. First off, karat (which is often abbreviated with a simple ‘k’ has to do with the purity of the gold (the amount of actual pure yellow gold that the jewelry contains).

People often confuse karats with carats. Diamonds are measured in carats, which are completely different. Carats are a measure of weight, not purity.

Second, gold purity is always measured in terms of how many parts, out of 24, contain pure gold. When 24 parts out of 24 are comprised of pure gold, it’s designated 24k gold, which is the purest gold available (it has no alloys mixed in. 10k gold, on the other hand, has only 10 out of 24 parts occupied by pure gold, with the other 14 filled in with alloys.

The lower the karat designation, the less gold the jewelry item contains. Conversely, the higher the karat rating, the more gold the item contains. In other words, 10k white gold is less pure than 14k gold. By the same token, 14k gold is less pure than 18k gold.

White Gold Quality
Yellow Gold Included
Alloys Included
10k (10 karat) =
41.7%
58.3%
14k (14 karat) =
58.3%
41.7%
18k (18 karat) =
75%
25%

There’s no such thing as 24k white gold, because, by definition, white gold has to have alloys mixed in, yet 24k gold is pure gold (without any added alloys). Because of this, 18k white gold is typically the highest level of purity that you’re likely to find.

Because 10k white gold has the highest percentage of alloys contributed, and those alloys are harder than pure gold, 10k gold is more durable than higher purity mixes like 14k or 18k. Those more heavily used alloy metals are much less expensive than yellow gold, as an ingredient, so 10k gold is also substantially cheaper than higher purity gold.

If 10k white gold is both cheaper and more durable than gold with higher purity, why would anyone ever buy 14k or 18k gold, for example?

Skin Sensitivity: Some people have allergic responses to some of the alloy metals that are mixed into white gold. While the Rhodium plating might protect them from coming into direct contact with the metals that they have a sensitivity to, for a time, the plating will eventually wear through if it’s not carefully maintained. 14k and 18k White Gold have a lower percentage of other metal alloys contributed to their metal mixture. Because the metals that trigger reactions are found in much smaller quantities, they sometimes don’t trigger the irritation that they experience with lower purity gold rings.

Quality Assumptions: Most people aren’t extremely familiar with the distinction between 10k white gold, 14k white gold, or 18k white gold. Sometimes, all they know is that 14k gold is more expensive than 10k gold. They may assume that more expensive means better (more enduring). If they can afford the upgrade, they may decide that splurging is better than sacrificing when it comes to something like their engagement ring. They don’t have a solid, or specific, reason for purchasing the more expensive version, outside of assumptions. They err on the side of caution because they don’t want to regret buying lower-quality gold at some point down the road.

Marketing Messages: We’re all influenced by skillful marketers that get paid to manipulate our thoughts and opinions about various products and services. Print ads, banners, and commercials that we’ve seen throughout our lives my leave us believing that anything less than 18k gold, for example, isn’t worth owning.

Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with buying 14k or 18k white gold, but if you’re looking for a frugal ring, 10k white gold might provide the ‘biggest bang for your buck.’

Does White Gold Tarnish?

As I mentioned earlier, the surface of a White Gold ring isn’t really white gold—it’s Rhodium. Rhodium is resistant to corrosion so it won’t tarnish or rust. Gold also isn’t susceptible to rust or tarnish.

What is Platinum?

Platinum is a natural metal that’s mined from the earth—like yellow gold. It’s represented as ‘Pt’ on the Periodic Table of Elements—and is actually one of the rarest elements in the earth’s crust. Platinum has a striking silvery appearance, in fact, it’s often mistaken for silver.

Platinum’s appearance isn’t completely unique, but some of its characteristics are. This metal is remarkably dense and heavy. In fact, it’s about 4 times heavier than white gold. It’s also incredibly resistant to corrosion of all kinds…even when heated to extreme temperatures. In addition, Platinum won’t darken or fade as time passes, and is extremely durable.

Platinum is relatively hard and one of the least reactive metals in existence. That combination of attractive features, among others, has made it a popular metal for manufacturing. It’s heavily used in electronics, surgical instruments, and automobile manufacturing. In fact, it’s estimated that more than half of all Platinum produced each year is used to manufacture car parts. Catalytic converters are one particular part where Platinum is very commonly used.

My wife has never been one to remove her ring before cleaning, showering, or doing yard work. If you rarely remove your ring, platinum might be the right metal for your next ring because its more resistant to scratches and other scarring. It’s also more resistant to some chemical reactions that gold rings are more vulnerable to.

Swimming pools and ocean water, for example, can cause damage to engagement rings over time that could cause you to eventually lose your center stone. Fortunately, Platinum rings aren’t impacted by chlorinated pool water or saltwater the way that gold is. I wrote an article recently about how water can impact common ring materials like Moissanite and gold. If you’re considering a white gold engagement ring, you may want to review that article to learn a little more about the care and precautions that are required.

Another feature of Platinum that many people with very sensitive skin appreciate, is its Hypoallergenic qualities. While Platinum jewelry is rarely pure (containing ONLY Platinum), it generally consists of a very high platinum purity (often 90% to 95%), which typically works well for even extremely sensitive wearers.

In the United States, Platinum jewelry is supposed to be stamped or inscribed with a hallmark that provides information on its level of purity (the amount of platinum that the jewelry item contains). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the government body that’s responsible for protecting consumers from deceptive advertising practices. They’ve mandated that hallmarks provide clear and accurate representations regarding the composition of jewelry pieces that are sold in the U.S.

You should assume that any Platinum jewelry without a hallmark of any kind, contains LESS than 50% platinum. At that level of purity, the FTC stipulates that the metal doesn’t contain enough Platinum to be labeled as ‘Platinum.’

If you find jewelry labeled as Platinum, that doesn’t further qualify the amount of platinum that the piece contains, with a number of some kind, it should contain AT LEAST 95% Platinum (no more than 5% coming from other alloys) according to the FTC.

Hallmarks typically contain a three-digit number that represents the percentage of the metal mixture that Platinum comprises, followed by an abbreviation like ‘Plat.’ or ‘Pt.’ For example, you might see something like 850Pt., meaning that the piece contains 85% pure Platinum, or 950Plat., indicating that it’s comprised of 95% pure Platinum.

Any rings, or other jewelry items that contain between 50% and 85% Platinum, should display a hallmark disclosing the percentage of platinum that the item contains, but also information on the other metal alloy that was added. For example, you might see hallmarks like the following:

Example Hallmark
Hallmark Meaning
550 Pt. 450 Pd.
The ring is 55% pure Platinum & 45% Palladium
750 Pt. 250 Ir.
The ring is 75% pure Platinum & 25% Iridium
800 Pt. 200 Rh.
The ring is 80% pure Platinum & 20% Rhodium

What Color is Platinum?

Platinum is often described as a white metal, but it’s actually very similar in appearance to silver. In fact, the name ‘Platinum’ originates from the Spanish word ‘Platina,’ which means ‘little silver.’

Platinum’s color is fairly neutral, making it easy to pair with nearly any type of center-stone or outfit. It’s mild tone also can exist alongside other jewelry items of various shades and styles, making it an easy metal to wear in almost any combination with other pieces.

Where is Platinum Found?

Platinum is a resource that’s truly scarce in the earth’s crust. Only a few hundred tons are actually mined each year, and again, more than half of that quantity is used to manufacture parts for the automotive industry. When you also consider all the other medical and industrial uses for platinum, you start to realize just how little is actually available for jewelry each year.

Let me put the quantity of Platinum that’s mined each year into perspective. Worldwide gold production is about 2,500 tons per year. Silver production is nearly 30,000 tons per year. Once you catch a glimpse at the disparity of production for those three metals, you can start to understand why Platinum is more expensive than gold—and SO MUCH more expensive than Silver.

All but about 20% of the world’s annual Platinum production comes from South Africa currently. Russia, Columbia, and Canada are other locations where Platinum can be found. Platinum exists in space too! We know that Platinum can be found on the Moon’s surface, and small amounts have even been recovered from the site of past meteorite impacts.

Does Platinum Tarnish?

Platinum is one of the most non-reactive metals known to man. It won’t tarnish, oxidize, or rust in any way. This extreme resistance to corrosion is one of the key differentiators between Sterling Silver and Platinum in terms of maintenance and durability. While White Gold also isn’t susceptible to tarnish and rust, the Rhodium plating has to be reapplied periodically as it begins to wear through, making White Gold rings far more expensive and time-consuming to maintain than Platinum rings.

What is Platinum Patina? 

As you wear an engagement ring or wedding ring daily over a period of years, you’re almost certain to collect small little scratches on the surface of the ring. When you have a smooth shiny surface, the scratches are the most noticeable. As scratches multiply over time, the collection of varied scratches can create a matte type of finish on the surface of the ring. That scratched up matte finish is referred to as ‘Patina.’

It sounds bad initially, but the matte finish that’s created can look good. Many people love the effect. If you prefer to keep the smooth-shiny surface that your ring originally had, you’ll just need to have your ring polished by a local jeweler to restore its original look.

If you really want to avoid an obvious Patina effect on the surface of your ring, you might consider one of the following options.

  • Buy a Platinum ring that has a pattern carved into it. Obviously a pattern on your ring won’t make it more resistant to scratches, but it can make scratches far less obvious.
  • Be more careful with the use of your ring. Take it off before working on playing in environments where your ring might come into contact with things that could cause damage. Taking precautions could slow a Patina process, but it’s unlikely to help you avoid it forever…because accidents happen.
  • Use an even harder metal. While Platinum is considered hard, Tungsten-Cobalt is much harder, In fact, it’s so hard that it’s difficult to mount center stones on—but the metal works well for bands of all kinds.

Platinum vs White Gold?

It’s really impossible to say that Platinum is always better than White Gold for jewelry, or that White Gold is better than Platinum. Both materials have their pros and cons.

Platinum vs Gold Wedding Rings

Platinum vs Gold Wedding Rings

The Pros of Platinum:

  • It’s a solid metal that doesn’t need to be plated.
  • It’s extremely durable (much harder than gold).
  • It matches a wide variety of colors and styles easily.
  • It’s considered hypoallergenic.

The Cons of Platinum (it’s a pretty short list):

  • It’s expensive.

The Pros of White Gold:

  • It’s inexpensive (compared to the cost of some other options).
  • It has a beautiful, Platinum-like, appearance.
  • It’s a common offering, so it’s readily available.

The Cons of White Gold:

  • The metal is plated with Rhodium, which has to be reapplied periodically.
  • It’s a relatively soft metal.
  • The alloys that are mixed into White gold can cause reactions for people with extremely sensitive skin.
  • White gold is more vulnerable to things like Chlorine and saltwater.

After weighing all of the pros and cons of each metal it comes down to this. Platinum is the better option for most people if you can afford it, but White Gold is a great alternative if the cost of Platinum falls outside the bounds of your rings budget.

What is the Difference in How White Gold and Platinum Look?

White Gold and Platinum took very much identical when you’re comparing new rings—after all, Rhodium is used to plate White Gold, and Rhodium is part of the Platinum family.

The plating that covers ‘White Gold’ will wear thinner and thinner, as time passes, until the surface of the White Gold ring has a yellowish tone. That effect happens because again, White Gold (the actual metal mixture) isn’t white. Since Yellow gold is such a prominent ingredient, White Gold (the metal mixture beneath the Rhodium plating) is typically yellow. As the Rhodium plating gets thinner, the yellowish gold mixture that lies beneath the surface starts to show through making the ring look more like yellow gold than White Gold or Platinum.

The yellowish tint that White Gold acquires over time isn’t incurable. The ring would just need to be ‘redipped’ by a jeweler. They would essentially apply a new coat of Rhodium plating to make the ring look as good as new (until the plating eventually wears through again).

Why is Platinum Popular For Engagement Rings?

Platinum has a feeling of prestige. We’ve been conditioned to view it that way. Credit cards often name their card offerings after precious metals. The Platinum card is usually their best, and most exclusive, offering. Other companies sometimes offer various product or service packages that are also named after precious (or semi-precious) metals. They’ll offer something like a Silver, Gold, and Platinum package, for example. The Platinum offering is typically the most desirable—and the most expensive.

The durability of the material. Some people don’t want to spend much time or effort babying their ring. My wife feels that way. She definitely doesn’t want to abuse her ring, but she needs it to keep up with her normal daily routine. Similarly, my wife has no patience with clothing items that need special (delicate) treatment. She prefers to purchase clothing items that can tolerate normal washing and drying cycles. If you feel similarly about your special ring, Platinum is likely a better option than White Gold for you.

Along the same lines, Platinum saves people the cost and hassle of replating. While White Gold costs less in the short term, it may end up costing more over the long term—once you factor in the costs of periodic replating.

Sensitivity to other metals. Platinum is a hypoallergenic metal, which means that it’s going to be a safer choice for people with extremely sensitive skin. Again, while Rhodium-plated White Gold may work fine for people with major sensitivity in the short term, they may have issues over the long term, so the Rhodium plating wears through and the yellowish gold mixture that lies beneath the surface is increasingly exposed—because that mixture contains alloys that could potentially trigger reactions. Platinum isn’t plated. It’s solid all the way through.

Platinum-plated as a way to get many of the benefits of Platinum without the price tag (instead of going with White Gold). Platinum-plated will also wear through over time and will need to be replated. The main benefit is that the underlying silver isn’t yellow, and is less likely to cause reactions for those with sensitive skin.

Platinum Prongs vs White Gold

Is it better to have prongs that are made of White Gold or Platinum? Your prongs are the little metal posts that stand up around the outside perimeter of your ring holding your center stone in place. If you can afford it, Platinum is the better option for two key reasons:

  1. The Rhodium plating can be accidentally removed from White Gold prongs while cleaning your center stone. If you get an oil slick stain on a Moissanite center stone, you might use a yellow Silver polishing cloth, like this one, to remove the stain, but the cloth is also capable of removing your Rhodium. Platinum is solid (not a plating) so it’s more durable through maintenance like this. I recently wrote an article about removing the oil slick stain from Moissanite that talks more about this issue with white gold and Rhodium.
  2. You can lose your center stone if your prongs are weak (again, repeated contact with things like Chlorine and saltwater can eventually weaken Gold prongs). Getting snagged on clothing or other items can also weaken prongs over time. It’s not the Gold that reacts to these elements, but the alloys that are mixed into the gold and into the solder at the base of the prongs. This article addresses the damage that Chlorine and saltwater can do to gold in greater detail. You may want to check it out.

I mentioned earlier that my wife rarely removes her ring. It’s essentially on her finger 24/7. After nearly 20 years, one of her prongs suddenly bent. Fortunately, she noticed it before any serious damage was done. If not caught, her center stone (a diamond) might have slipped free and been lost.

A good friend of mine was walking through a major airport several years ago when something on the floor caught his eye. As he approached the item and bent down to get a closer look, he realized it was a pretty large diamond (more than a carat) that had somehow fallen from someone’s ring. This is the danger of weakened prongs, and it’s one of the best reasons to consider Platinum if you can afford it. Taking regular precautions with your gold ring could also help to keep your ring safe.

Platinum vs Gold Price

Here are a few facts that may help you to better understand the cost difference between these two metals.

  • Platinum is much more dense than gold. In fact, it’s typically 40-60% denser (depending on the purity of the gold being contrasted). Because precious metals have a cost per gram, but it would take 40-60% more metal weight to make any given ring in Platinum rather than White Gold, it makes sense that the Platinum version would cost considerably more.
  • Platinum is truly rare, and because of that, the universal laws of supply and demand naturally drive the cost of Platinum beyond the cost of gold.
  • Platinum is a much harder metal than White Gold, and it’s MUCH more difficult to work with, requiring specialized tools and a more rare set of skills and experience to successfully craft. All of that adds complexity and cost.
  • Platinum is more pure (it’s less diluted with other alloys) than most white gold. White gold frequently contains 62% alloy mix-ins consisting of cheaper metals like Copper, Silver, and Nickel. Platinum, on the other hand, is commonly 80 to 95% pure (with a 5-20% alloy contribution). The alloys make both metals harder, but they also bring costs down for the finished product. In that regard, White Gold gains a big cost advantage because it’s so much less pure.

What’s the actual cost difference for White Gold settings vs identical Platinum settings?

14k White Gold engagement ring settings frequently run 30% to 92% less than the same setting crafted with Platinum. That’s a significant cost difference. The price gap between 18k White Gold and Platinum is much less dramatic, commonly ranging from 2% to 25%. You can compare the cost of rings in a variety of metals here, including 14k White Gold, 18k White Gold, and Platinum (among others).

If you like the thought of Platinum, but can’t afford it, consider a Platinum plated silver engagement ring. Here are a few reasons that this approach might be your best option on a low budget.

  • Silver (the base metal) is incredibly inexpensive.
  • The Silver is completely encased in Platinum, so the ring looks like it’s ENTIRELY made of Platinum. This can leave you with a high-end (Platinum) look, but a low-end (mostly) Silver price.
  • Your base metal (the metal in the center of your ring) isn’t yellow (as it is with White Gold), so the look of the ring won’t change as much as your ring’s plating wears through over time.
  • Stainless Steel typically doesn’t contain Nickel, but White Gold often does, which can be a problem for people with serious allergies or sensitive skin.

You’ll recognize Platinum plated silver because even if a ring is only advertised as Platinum (without the Silver base clearly being disclosed), you’ll see the well known ‘925’ hallmark on the inside of the ring (the inner band).

Here’s an example of a Platinum-plated Sterling Silver Moissanite ring that’s incredibly affordable.

This one is Rhodium-plated Sterling Silver. It’s a beautiful ring at an even lower price. I’ve purchased this same brand for my wife, and it’s held up incredibly well over the past year. It still looks as sparkly and new as the day she got it.

In Summary

Platinum is a beautiful and durable ring that costs more in the short term, but it could cost less over the long term, once the maintenance costs of repeated Rhodium replating are factored in. A better alternative than White Gold, for those on a tight budget, might be Platinum (or Rhodium) plated Sterling Silver. It will give you a ring that looks EXACTLY the same as white gold, and something just a durable, for a fraction of the cost.

Related Posts:

What Is Rose Gold? The Ultimate Guide for This Amazing Metal

The Difference Between Sterling Silver and 925 Silver

The Difference Between a Promise Ring and an Engagement Ring

 

 

 

The Difference Between Sterling Silver and 925 Silver

The Difference Between Sterling Silver and 925 Silver

There are a number of terms used for silver jewelry that can be confusing until someone explains them in simple terms. Here’s a common one…

What’s the difference between Sterling Silver and 925 Silver? ‘Sterling Silver’ and ‘925 Silver’ are two different terms for the same metal. Sterling Silver contains 92.5% pure silver, and 7.5% metal alloy. Any silver product that contains at least 92.5% silver is ‘Sterling Silver’. The ‘925’ reference represents the Silver content that’s in Sterling Silver.

Learn more about 925 Sterling Silver Jewelry in the remainder of this post. I’ll help you understand how the metal is made and how to identify it. I’ll also explain how Sterling Silver is impacted by corrosion like tarnish and rust.

What is Sterling Silver?

Silver has been a sought after, valuable, and important metal for thousands of years. Pure Silver has a beautiful appearance, but like pure gold, it’s much too soft, in its natural state, to be practical for many applications—including jewelry. When Silver is mixed with Copper and other metal alloys, the metal mixture becomes MUCH more durable.

When at least 92.5% of the final metal mixture consists of Silver, the resulting metal is referred to as Sterling Silver. I’ll talk more about the alloys that are added to increase durability in a moment.

Because of the durability that the added metal alloys provide, Sterling Silver becomes hard enough to be used for things like fancy dining ware sets—which is where the term “silverware” comes from. Today we use that term to reference any set of eating utensils, regardless of what it’s made of.

Sterling Silver is also frequently used for surgical equipment and certain musical instruments, (primarily woodwinds, like the flute and saxophone for example), and jewelry of all kinds. Pure Silver couldn’t possibly stand up to the abuse of normal daily wear, but Sterling Silver can! The hardness of this metal mixture also makes it possible for jewelry designers to make much more intricate designs than they could with a soft metal like pure Silver.

Some key advantages of Sterling Silver for jewelry applications:

  1. Price. Sterling Silver is INCREDIBLY inexpensive compared to many other metals with a similar appearance (like white gold, platinum, and palladium).
  2. Matching. Sterling Silver is a great match to any outfit. It’s a color that won’t clash or conflict with much.
  3. Durability. Sterling Silver is capable of standing up to everyday wear and tear.
  4. Balance. It’s hard enough to be durable for daily wear, but not too hard for jewelers to shape and manipulate into intricate designs.

The Origins of Sterling Silver

There are several theories about where the term ‘Sterling’ came from. It’s believed, for example, that during the 12th century, German traders purchased English, livestock, with silver coins called “Easterlings.” These coins eventually came widely circulated among the English. It’s believed, that the name Easterlings was later shortened to Sterling.

The term could also have stemmed from the old British term, ‘steorling,’ which essentially meant, ‘with a star.’ Because old coinage frequently featured stars, the use, and eventual adaptation of the that word makes good sense.

Is Sterling Silver Real Silver?

Yes, Sterling Silver IS real Silver, in the same sense that 18k gold is real gold—even though it isn’t pure gold. Gold, that is used for jewelry, also has metal alloys mixed in to add hardness for all the same reasons as Silver, in fact, many of the same metal alloys are used in both metal mixtures. zinc, platinum, and germanium

Sterling Silver jewelry

So, what metals are used to increase the durability of Silver? Copper is the most common additive. Other metals like Zinc, Manganese, Platinum, or Germanium are sometimes, but far less commonly, added to the alloy mixture as well. Nickel used to be a common additive to Sterling Silver, but it isn’t very common today, because so many people have allergic reactions to Nickel.

Is ‘925 Silver’ Different Than ‘925 Sterling Silver’?

No, here again, the number ‘925’ is an indicator of the purity of the Silver. Since both of these terms have the same number associated with them, it means they have the same percentage of Silver content. 925 (or 92.5%) is enough for BOTH to qualify as Sterling Silver.

Remember that the United States defines Sterling Silver as containing at least 92.5% silver content, but other counties may (and do) have different standards. Those standards can be quite different at times. Some European countries require an even higher silver purity (up to 95%) than the US for designation as Sterling Silver, while other countries sometimes allow for a MUCH lower threshold. If you’re shopping for jewelry while traveling overseas, for example, you have to be really careful about what you’re buying. Even buying jewelry from auction sites and similar vendors can be a real gamble at times.

Is Your Ring Stamped 925?

If you’re wondering, “how can you tell the difference between silver and sterling silver?” the stamps and markings on your ring are your easiest place to start.

Products made with Sterling Silver typically bear a ‘Hallmark,’ which is an engraving or stamp that identifies the metal’s purity (the amount of pure Silver that the item contains). The most common hallmark for Sterling Silver is simply ‘925.’ When you see those numbers stamped on the inside of your ring band, the backside of a fancy fork or the bottom of a serving platter, you’ll know that it’s made of Sterling Silver.

Again, Sterling Silver has to contain at least 92.5% silver (or 925 parts out of 1,000). This is where the identifier 925 comes from. It’s also possible to see hallmarks like “SS,” “STER,” “92.5,” “.925,” “925 Silver,” “Sterling,” “Sterling Silver,” “925 Sterling Silver,” or “STG,” which are all intended to communicate the same level of silver purity.

The Difference Between Sterling Silver and Silver Plated

A Sterling Silver ring will contain the same metal mixture all the way through, while a Silver Plated Ring just contains a thin layer of Silver over a base of some other metal. Plated rings often involve a base metal of Brass or Copper. A thin coating of silver is then applied to cover the base metal, so it appears to be a solid silver ring from the outside.

Plated rings are less expensive because the base metal used is typically a less expensive metal. There are no enforced standards for the minimal acceptable thickness of plated metal. Because of that, a plated ring can look perfect when you purchase it, only to have the thin layer of plated silver wear through in days, weeks, or months.

I purchased a plated ring for my wife about a year ago. I was a pretty ring when it was brand new, and had a quality feel in your hand. It was very inexpensive, and I wondered how long the plating would hold up.

My wife is the type that never removes her ring. She showers with it on, sleeps with it on, works with it on, etc. The plating didn’t hold up to normal daily wear. Within ONE MONTH, the plating had worn through across much of the ring, and the base metal was glaring through the places where plating used to be. The ring no longer looked presentable and had to be disposed of. Most plated rings are a real gamble.

This isn’t to say that ALL plated rings are bad. Quality can vary wildly. I purchased another plated ring for my wife almost a year ago that’s just as beautiful today as the day it arrived. The ring is definitely battle-tested. She has worn it daily (rarely removing it), and it’s held up as well as a super expensive platinum ring so far.

Here’s another ring from the same manufacturer. It’s Rodium plated Sterling Silver wedding set that features a Cubic Zirconia center stone (just like my wife’s). These are GREAT rings for couples on a tight budget, or those who need a safe ring to wear while traveling.

Does Sterling Silver Tarnish?

The Copper that’s in Sterling Silver, makes it somewhat susceptible to tarnishing because that metal additive tends to oxidizes easily. Tarnish happens when the metal mixture reacts to Oxygen, creating a darkened, discolored, surface. Tarnish can be removed through cleaning with special polishes and processes.

Not all Sterling Silver Rings tarnish, and the process doesn’t happen immediately. My wife, for example, has had a 925 Sterling Silver ring with 3 Cubic Zirconias on it for several years. I pulled it out of her jewelry box the other night to look it over. It definitely hasn’t been babied through the years, yet it shows no sign of tarnish.

Sometimes a chemical coating is put on the face of the ring, as a sealer of sorts, to help prevent tarnish from accumulating. Not all 925 rings have that coating though. As rings are regularly worn, they get a natural layer of protection from the natural oils that your hands transfer to them without even trying. It’s when your 925 Silver rings are sitting unused in your jewelry box that they actually have the greatest risk of tarnishing.

If you’re going to store your ring (unworn) for a while, it’s a good idea to seal it in a small Ziploc bag, that has had excess air pressed out of it. Having said that, my wife took no such precautions with her ring, and several years later, there’s no sign of tarnish. Your experience will depend on your specific ring and the level of humidity that exists in your area. The climate where I live, is very dry, so that may play a role in the experience we’ve had with my wife’s ring. Hot, humid weather can cause Sterling Silver to tarnish more quickly.

Rhodium is a metal from the Platinum family that looks a lot like Platinum or Silver. It’s commonly used as a metal plating to cover Sterling Silver and prevent tarnishing. While Rhodium does prevent tarnish, it comes with other maintenance issues, because Rhodium plating will eventually wear through. When that happens you’ll have to pay a jeweler to ‘dip,’ or re-plate, your ring for you. If you need to have your 925 Silver ring resized, you’ll similarly need to have the Rhodium reapplied afterward.

Many claim that pure (99.99%) silver (also known as Fine Silver) doesn’t tarnish, but it absolutely can. It’s possible primarily because even ‘pure’ Silver isn’t 100% pure. There’s approximately .01% of the total metal that’s made up of trace amounts of copper and other metals that naturally get mixed in during formation. Removing these trace amounts of metals that exist in this Silver would be too expensive to be practical. This means though that even fine Silver has small amounts of foreign metals in it that can react and oxidize. The following image shows a Silver coin that’s 99.99% pure (like any silver that’s considered ‘fine’ or ‘pure,’ but you can see that it’s quite tarnished. In this case, it didn’t take much time for the tarnish to appear.

Don’t be afraid of tarnish, it isn’t likely to be much of a concern for your rings and other jewelry—particularly if you wear them regularly. Tarnish is also easily treated if it begins to accumulate.

There is a new process for creating Sterling Silver that is incredibly tarnish resistant. The process incorporates Germanium in place of some of the Copper that would otherwise be added in order to create Sterling Silver. This new type of Sterling Silver is referred to as Argentium Silver.

The final Argentium mixture typically looks something like this:

Silver:92.5%
Copper:6.3%
Germanium:1.2%

These metals can be used in varying ratios, as long as the Silver content is never lower than 92.5%. The silver content is often higher in this type of Silver, as high as 96%. Argentium Silver is made into wire, and the wire is then crafted into interesting looking rings that still have the wire look. This is an Argentium Silver ring for example. Here’s another pretty one.

As an additional benefit, this new process also helps to eliminate surface discolorations, called ‘firescale’ that sometimes appears during the soldering process. When firescale is significant, manufacturers often use a Rhodium coating to cover it up and create a uniform external coloring. Because Germanium doesn’t react the same way that Copper does, firescale is much less prevalent when manufacturing jewelry through this process.

Argentium Silver rings are durable. They resist scratching, gouging, and denting, and are incredibly easy to maintain—you really just wipe them occasionally with a clean, soft, cloth to keep them clean. It couldn’t be easier!

Does Sterling Silver Rust?

Sterling Silver isn’t prone to rust. While it’s still a good idea to avoid getting your ring wet, whenever possible, that isn’t because of concern over potential rust. Water typically has dissolved minerals in it. Those minerals can leave hard water deposits on the surface of your ring that can dull its appearance.

Will Sterling Silver Turn My Finger Green?

Sterling Silver does contain a small amount of Copper, but that Copper content typically isn’t enough to leave a green mark on your finger. If your finger turns green after wearing a ring that’s supposed to be Sterling Silver, it could be an early sign that your ring is actually just Silver Plated (not solid Silver).

My Daughter was testing a plated ring for me recently. By the end of the very first day, she had a nice green ring where the ring had been on her finger. The plating appeared to still be fully intact. The ring she was wearing had Copper as the base metal beneath a thin coating. Again, the plating still looked good and seemed to be uncompromised, but it was still turning her finger green.

There are some people that tend to have reactions to the metal that others don’t have. The green line around your ring finger is a classic example. The reaction is most often caused by some hand cream, lotion, or face powder that they’re using. The product is causing the reaction. If that person methodically rotates through their creams, lotions, and powders, pausing their use of each product for a short time, they’ll likely identify the product that was causing the issue and can look for a different brand to use.

Sometimes, something like a hormonal change can lead to green marks on your finger for a while, when others (without the hormonal issue) wouldn’t have the same issue.

How to Tell if Silver is Real

Jewelry is sometimes labeled ‘silver’ in a listing or ad, even when it has no actual Silver content. That can happen when dishonest sellers intentionally mislead buyers by describing the COLOR of the ring as ‘silver.’ Whether you’re buying online or in a local shop, you need to realize that Sterling Silver jewelry isn’t always properly represented. You don’t always have to base your buying decisions on the look or label alone. There are several simple tests that you can use to confirm that the jewelry item you’re looking at is what it’s advertised to be.

925 Silver ring that is made of 925 Sterling Silver

They might, for example, have a title for their product like, “Beautiful Silver Engagement Ring.” A buyer would understandably assume from the title that the ring is made of Sterling Silver—when that’s not the case. Unfortunately, the cheaper, non-Silver, metals may not be as durable, and could have potentially harmful additives (like Nickel).

Having said all that, here are five ways that you can detect a potential problem with misrepresentation before you buy:

Look for the traditional hallmarks. While this is far from sufficient due diligence, it’s a good first item on your checklist. I mentioned a number of possible hallmarks above (like the numbers ‘925’ stamped in an inconspicuous part of the ring. While that stamp SHOULD indicate that a particular piece of jewelry IS made of Sterling Silver, in reality, dishonest manufacturers can put that mark on fake jewelry to deceive buyers if that’s your ONLY method of verification.

Do a ‘sniff’ test. This is a simple evaluation of whether the jewelry item is being sold way too inexpensively to be real for example. Everyone loves to find a great deal, but as an old adage warns, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Like the hallmarks, you wouldn’t necessarily rely on this assessment alone, but it may serve as your first potential warning flag in many cases. You can then evaluate further from there if you want to.

Do a smell test. Yes, you should actually put your nose near the jewelry and smell the metal. Sterling Silver would generally have almost no smell, but the high level of alloys used in other look-alike (fake) jewelry can have a strong and noticeable smell to them. If there’s a strong odor to the metal, it probably isn’t actually made of Sterling Silver (regardless of what’s stamped on it, or what the shopkeeper says, or how it looks).

Check for magnetism. Sterling Silver isn’t magnetic, but many other metals are. One really simple test that you can do, is to pull a magnet out of your pocket to see if the jewelry item you’re considering is attracted to it. If it is, then you’ll know it isn’t made of the 925 Silver that was represented. If the jewelry isn’t attracted to the metal, it’s more likely that the piece you’re evaluating is made of at least 925 Sterling Silver.

Polish with a soft white cloth, and then look for dark marks. Tarnish that you can’t even visibly recognize will likely form on the surface of even new Sterling Silver rings. Because of this, if you rub them with a soft white cloth, you’ll typically see dark marks on the cloth when you pull it away and examine it. If the cloth is totally clean after doing this, the jewelry item that you’re holding is almost certainly made of something other than Sterling Silver.

The great thing about this testing method, is that a soft white cloth is small and inexpensive. It’s an easy thing to keep on hand. In a real pinch, you could even rub the jewelry across the outside of a white sock or the bottom edge of a white shirt.

Use Nitric Acid. Another effective test for chemically testing jewelry to find out if they’re made of 925 (or better) Sterling Silver, is to put a drop of Nitric Acid on the metal and then observe it. If the drop of acid turns green, it means that your materials is NOT Sterling Silver. If it remains kind of a creamy Tan color, it probably is.

You probably shouldn’t apply Nitric Acid to jewelry you don’t own without getting the seller’s permission first. They will have to be really confident that their jewelry is actually made of Sterling Silver in order to allow for this test. If they aren’t confident in the composition of their jewelry, and won’t allow you to do the test, you may want to reconsider buying from them.

Caution: Be EXTREMELY careful when using Nitric Acid. It can damage body parts or clothing if it accidentally comes in contact with them.

Again, you don’t need to use ALL of these testing methods, in order to confirm that jewelry is made of Sterling Silver. If you use two or three that are convenient, it should be enough to give you confidence with your purchase decision.

In Summary

‘Sterling Silver’ and ‘925 Silver’ are two terms for the same metal. Any metal that’s at least 92.5% Silver is considered Sterling Silver. This metal has MANY advantages. It’s attractive, durable, and inexpensive. Imprints (or stamps) called ‘hallmarks’ will tell you the amount of silver that the jewelry contains, but there are simple tests that you can also do to confirm that jewelry that’s marketed as Sterling Silver really is what they claim it is.

Sterling Silver can be a GREAT option for frugal rings! It can be used as-is or covered in a thick layer of Gold, Platinum, Palladium, or some other precious metal to produce a high-cost look for a low-cost ring.

Related Posts:

What Is Rose Gold? The Ultimate Guide for This Amazing Metal

The Difference Between a Promise Ring and an Engagement Ring

How Much are Moissanite Rings? | Finding Inexpensive Options

 

What Is Rose Gold? The Ultimate Guide for This Amazing Metal

What Is Rose Gold? The Ultimate Guide for This Amazing Metal

Rose Gold is an eye-catching metal with a distinctive look and history. If you’re considering it for an engagement ring, or some other special piece of jewelry, you’ll want to learn a little more about the metal to ensure it’s going to be the right fit.

What is Rose Gold? Rose Gold is a metal mixture that produces a beautiful and distinctive form of gold that is much more durable than pure gold naturally is. The main ingredient is Yellow Gold. The addition of Copper provides the warm rosy color that this metal is famous for. Silver and Zinc are also common additions.

In the paragraphs that follow, I’ll share all that you need to know about the history, care, uses, benefits, and challenges of Rose Gold. By the time you’re done with this post, you’ll know if it’s the right option for you, and how to care for your Rose Gold jewelry.

Is Rose Gold Real Gold?

Have you ever wondered, “where is Rose Gold from?” If so, you’re not alone, but it doesn’t come from special mines in a certain region of the world. Rose Gold is not a natural material—it’s produced, not found.

Some wonder, “Are Rose Gold and Copper the same? while it’s true that some Rose Gold looks very much like copper, Rose Gold is not the same as Copper. Copper and Gold are separate elements on the periodic table. Rose Gold is a manufactured offshoot of yellow gold. I referenced the fact that it’s a metal mixture a little earlier. I’ll talk more about specifically how it’s created in a moment.

So, what is Rose Gold made of? It’s actually a mixture of metals that is made up of yellow gold and other alloys that adapt the look, and other characteristics, of what started out a soft yellow metal—in fact, too soft for daily use as jewelry.

Rose Gold certainly DOES contain real gold (as much as 91.7% is made up of yellow gold), but it isn’t ONLY comprised of gold.

Are Rose Gold Rings Plated?

Rose Gold isn’t plated (or coated) with Copper or any other type of metal. The Copper-like color is the result of what’s in the gold—not something that sits on top. The fact that Rose Gold isn’t plated is a good thing because plated rings aren’t known for durability. Thin plating can wear through pretty quickly. The solid nature of Rose Gold makes it a much longer-lasting option than plated rings could provide.

Rose Gold vs Yellow Gold vs White Gold

This quick reference table outlines some of the features of these three versions of gold that are similar—as well as some that are different.

 
Rose Gold
Yellow Gold
White Gold
Color:
Coppery Pink
Yellow
White (similar to Platinum)
Copper Content:
highest
Lower
Lowest
Durability:
Highest
Lower
Lower
Plated:
No
No
Yes
Availability:
Less Common
Very Common
Very Common

The amount of Copper used by each type of gold depends on the purity of the gold item being considered, and also varies to some degree based on manufacturer preferences. The cost of all three of these most common gold color offerings, tends be roughly the same.

What Does a Term like ‘14k Rose Gold’ Signify?

When discussing gold, the term ‘karat’ (typically abbreviated with a simple ‘k’) communicates the purity of gold. Pure gold (which has no other alloys mixed in) is described as 24 karat (or 24k). Gold is essentially measured in 24 parts (or units). When all 24 of those units contain ONLY gold, it’s dubbed 24k. 18 karat gold happens when 18 parts are pure gold (75% pure) and the remaining 6 parts are comprised of other metal alloys. 14k Rose Gold contains 14 parts pure of pure gold (it’s 58.3% pure) and 10 parts of other metal alloys. Finally, 10k rose gold includes 10 parts of pure gold and 14 parts that are comprised of other alloys.

As you can see, any number lower than 24 automatically indicates that the jewelry is a combination of gold and other metals. The lower the number, the more of those ‘other metals’ that have been mixed in. 10k jewelry contains less actual gold than 18k jewelry, for example. All of this is also true of yellow gold and white gold. Rose Gold is most commonly produced in 10k, 14k, and 18k, however, it can also be produced in 22k.

Difference Between Karats and Carats

While talking about things like engagement rings, you’ll hear the term Karats and Carats. Both are very distinct terms with different meanings. This can be confusing until you understand how the two differ from each other. Again, the term Karat (or Karats) is a measure of purity, that specifically relates to Gold. The more Karats gold contains (up to 24), the purer it is. The lower the Karat count, the less pure it is—and the more metal alloy the gold has mixed into it.

The term Carat (or Carats) is a measure of weight for gems that most commonly relates to Diamonds. Even though these two words sound the same, they can’t be used interchangeably, because they have such different meanings and purposes.

Can You Buy Pure Rose Gold?

Some people mislead consumers by using terms like “pure Rose Gold” or “solid Rose Gold. That would lead some to believe that their product is somehow all gold with no added alloys, but that’s an impossible product to actually deliver. 22k is the highest quality Rose Gold that you can purchase anywhere (having the maximum possible gold content, while still allowing room for some other alloys). Only 24k gold is more pure than 22k, but being pure gold (by definition), it can’t have the mix-ins that produce the famous Rose Gold coloring—which is why you can’t purchase 24k Rose Gold.

What is Rose Gold Made Of?

Each type of metal that’s included in Rose Gold makes a valuable contribution to the finished product. Each one affects its appearance or adds to its durability. Pure Gold is a very soft metal—much too soft to be worn daily as jewelry. The addition of certain metal alloys leads to a product that’s strong enough to withstand the abuse of daily wear.

 
Gold
Other Alloys
10K Rose Gold:
41.67%
58.33%
14K Rose Gold:
58.33%
41.67%
18K Rose Gold:
75%
25%
22K Rose Gold:
91.67%
8.33%

I mentioned Copper a moment ago, but other common additions to the alloy mixture may include Silver and Zinc as well. Each manufacturer may use metals in slightly different proportions. Interested in a common Copper Gold ratio? Well, generally speaking, for 18k Rose Gold, Copper, Silver, and Zinc might be added in roughly the following proportions, for example:

Common Alloy Contributors for 18K Rose Gold

Copper:
15%
Silver:
9.4%
Zinc:
.6%

The remaining 75% of the finished metal would be comprised of pure (24k) Yellow Gold. Of course, The alloy metals referenced above, aren’t always used in the exact same proportions by different manufacturers. They may use different combinations (with or without Zinc for example) and ratios to influence the look and durability of their finished product.

The lower the gold purity level of the Rose Gold (10k for example), the darker (more copper-like) the metal will be. The purer the gold is (18k for example), the lighter the resulting metal will be (more soft and pink in appearance). Lower purity Rose Gold uses more copper in the metal mixture, which makes it more durable, and a deeper red. higher purity Rose Gold contains less copper, which leads to its light rosy coloring.

There’s no standard outlining exactly how much Copper has to be mixed with Gold for it to be marketed as Rose Gold. Manufacturers can add more to darken their metal or add a little less to produce something with a lighter tone.

Obviously, the higher the purity of the gold, the more expensive the jewelry will be. 14k gold contains 4 additional parts of gold than 10k gold would. Since gold isn’t cheap, the increase in gold content has a noticeable impact on price.

Because 22k, Rose Gold was used, for a time, to produce certain coins in England, Rose Gold of that purity (91.7% gold), is sometimes referred to as ‘Crown Gold’

What Color is Rose Gold — Is Rose Gold Pink?

The name Rose Gold, doesn’t identify a specific color, but rather a range of possible colors in the spectrum surrounding red and pink. The reason for the range of possible colors, is that the final hue is determined by the type and proportion of the alloy metals that are mixed with yellow gold to produce Rose Gold.

Again, this beautiful gold can be manufactured in 10k, 14k, 18k, or 22k. On the lower-purity end of that spectrum (10k), the coloring is darkest and the most copper-like. Less than 42% of 10k Rose Gold is comprised of yellow gold, Copper is the second-highest ingredient, which is why the shade is darker.

On the other end of the spectrum, nearly 92% of 22k Rose Gold is comprised of yellow gold. That leaves very little room for Copper or other metal additives. Because there’s less Copper added in, gold at the more-pure end of the spectrum has a much lighter, pinkish, coloring.

The terms ‘Pink Gold’ and ‘Red Gold’ are sometimes used to describe the coloring that is found in Rose Gold at each end of the color continuum. Again, because of varying amounts for Copper contributed to the mixture, the final product can take on a wide spectrum of shades. Some of those shades are given unique names, primarily for marketing purposes, like Strawberry Gold and Honey Gold, for example.

What Does Rose Gold Look Like?

The following image shows two rings with identical styling, but two different colors of gold. The ring on top is White Gold. The ring on bottom is Rose Gold. Can you see the reddish-pink overtone that’s quite different than the finish on yellow gold?

What Rose Gold Looks Like

What Colors Go With Rose Gold?

Everyone has their own opinion regarding the color combinations that pair best with Rose Gold. Sometimes two colors blend effortlessly—complementing each other naturally. Other times, two colors have a beautiful contrast. You wouldn’t normally think of the two colors as ‘matching’ per se, but they look really vibrant and engaging together. The list that follows includes BOTH types of color combinations. These are some of the most common, and popular, color matchups for Rose Gold currently:

  • White
  • Pink shades (nudes, light copper, deep rose, etc)
  • Burgundy
  • Beige
  • Light greys
  • Metallics
  • Blue (Navy blue, Sky Blue, Caspian Blue, Aqua, Teal)
  • Green (Dark green, Mint green)
  • Yellow

There’s not just one ‘right’ answer when it comes to fashion and style (beauty is in the eye of the beholder). If you’re wondering what color matches Rose Gold the very best — the closest matches would likely be shades on the pink scale.

When Was Rose Gold Made into Jewelry?

During the 19th century, it was a popular jeweler named Carl Faberge who made Rose Gold initially and introduced it to consumers. It was embraced and worn in Russia, so the pinkish gold was often referred to as ‘Russian Gold.’ The term Russian Gold isn’t extremely common today.

In reality, while Carl is recognized for bringing us Rose Gold jewelry, he wasn’t the first to intentionally, or sometimes unintentionally, create red or pink gold. In fact, ancient civilizations had a great deal of red gold because of impurities during their smelting process or other, or because of the addition of Copper to a mixture of Yellow Gold and Silver.

Russians were, essentially, the only ones wearing Rose Gold until the Victorian era (which began in 1837). As Rose Gold broke out into new regions of the world, it was readily adopted because its reddish-pink hue was feminine and distinctive.

By the 1920s, Rose Gold was being adopted and sought after by American women too. The use of yellow and rose gold for engagement rings and wedding bands declined around 1929, as Platinum was introduced as an exciting alternative. As World War II raged on, Platinum was needed for military purposes, so the metal was difficult to obtain for jewelry applications. Demand again shifted back to gold (both yellow gold and rose gold).

Are Rose Gold Engagement Rings Popular Today?

Yes, Rose Gold engagement rings are very popular, however, lots of people also purchase White Gold, Yellow Gold, and Platinum. So, you certainly don’t have to feel like you’re jumping on an overly crowded ‘bandwagon’ if you choose a Rose Gold e-ring.

I just did a quick search on Google Trends, to find out how many people are searching for information using the terms “rose gold engagement ring” vs those looking for “white gold engagement ring” or “platinum engagement ring.” Over the past year, the term ‘rose gold engagement ring” has steadily been searched more frequently than “white gold engagement ring.” Surprisingly, it’s gotten two to three times more traffic than the term “platinum engagement ring”. Those results confirm the trends that I’m seeing. Rose Gold is still a very popular option for those seeking an engagement ring.

Are rose gold engagement rings a fad? Based on the history that was mentioned earlier, it’s safe to say that Rose Gold engagement rings are much more than a passing trend or fad. It’s been worn, and sought after, in the US for more than 100 years now. I think it’s safe to say that Rose Gold won’t be going away anytime soon.

Is Rose Gold for Guys, or is Rose Gold Girly?

In the majority of cases, I’m confident that Rose Gold jewelry is purchased by (or for) women, however, men also frequently wear rose gold rings, bracelets, necklaces, and watches. So much of it comes down to the design of the particular Rose Gold item and what you’re wearing it with. While Rose Gold has an elegant and feminine appeal when applied to delicate settings, it can also exude an interesting coppery vibe (especially in 10k or 14k).

Because of that range of possible shades and the impact that the look of each unique piece of jewelry has, Rose Gold is a metal that can work well for both men and women.

Apple’s iPhone teaches us something about how much guys like the Rose Gold color and are embracing it. Rose Gold iPhones have been selling to guys at surprisingly high rates for years—to the point where many have started referring to the metal as “Bro’s Gold.”

Rose Gold Watch on a Guy

What Types of Jewelry Can be Made with Rose Gold?

Anything that can be made with White or Yellow Gold can be made with Rose Gold. Rose Gold is a popular option for engagement rings, wedding rings, and anniversary bands that contain gems, as well as simple wedding bands. It’s also used for earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and more.

Rose Gold is often chosen because it’s soft rose color complements the gems that it’s paired with, outfits, or the skin tone of the wearer.

Rose Gold and Silver Engagement Rings

Can you wear Rose Gold with Silver? Yes, absolutely. There are several possible ways to pair the two metals. Some very reasonably priced engagement rings have a base (or core) of Silver, with a thick outer layer of Rose Gold. You can read more about these Gold Vermeil engagement rings below.

There are also many two-tone engagement rings that marry these metal colors well. Silver is FAR less expensive than White Gold, so it can be a much more affordable option. Because White Gold has a Rhodium plating that needs to be reapplied periodically, Silver can be more practical for some. Silver does need care and cleaning, but it isn’t plated, so that maintenance can easily be done at home with minimal cost.

You can also wear separate Rose Gold and Silver rings at the same time if you’d like. Since silver is a light metal that doesn’t have a strong contrasting tone, the two pair well together. Wearing Yellow Gold along with Rose Gold can sometimes be a little more tricky because you have two more distinctive colors beside each other.

Why a Rose Gold Engagement Ring Could be Perfect

Rose Gold can really be striking when paired with the right stone. There’s a synergy that can happen, where the metal makes the stone more noticeable and beautiful, and similarly, where the stone draws your attention to the beautiful tone of the metal used. I’ve noticed this happen with beautiful colorless diamonds and with Morganite for example. I especially love to see Rose Gold paired with Morganite because they both have a complimentary pinkish complexion that goes so well together.

Rose Gold has a soft and gentle appearance that can add to the feminine look of many setting styles. That characteristic might make it the perfect choice for your engagement ring.

A 14k Rose Gold Engagement Ring Being Placed on a Woman's Ring Finger

Some people have asked me, ‘are rose gold engagement rings tacky’? If there’s any question in your mind, talk to your partner about what THEY like. It’s said that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ Ideally, you and your partner would be able to agree on the details of the ring that you purchase before you purchase it…or at least before the return period lapses. While Rose Gold is a popular option, it isn’t as prevalent as White Gold and Yellow Gold, meaning that your partner’s special ring can still appear more unique and distinctive.

On a practical note, Rose Gold is also a lower maintenance option than many of the other metals that are commonly used for engagement rings which—means improved scratch resistance. Since it isn’t plated, so you don’t have to worry about re-coating the ring periodically (the way you would with White Gold).

Is Rose Gold Too Trendy for an Engagement Ring?

Rose Gold engagement rings aren’t a recent fad (something that will come and go), As I mentioned earlier, they’ve been a popular option for generations. Your Rose Gold e-ring should be something you appreciate just as much twenty years from now as you do today.

As a fall back plan, you could always have your Rose Gold engagement ring covered in another type of gold or Platinum if you ever decide that you want to change the look of your ring. That’s a great way to change up the style, while still keeping your original ring and all its sentimental value intact.

Can Rose Gold be Resized?

Yes, absolutely—BUT—the process isn’t as straightforward as it is for rings made of Yellow Gold. There are several reasons for this.

  1. There are MANY different shades of Rose Gold, so the metal can be hard to match seamlessly when you’re trying to expand the size of your ring.
  2. Smaller jewelers often don’t have the right solder on hand.
  3. Rose Gold is fairly brittle. It can crack if too stressed during the resizing process, so it can be more difficult to work with.

White Gold is similarly brittle, and therefore somewhat difficult to resize, but it also has Rhodium plating that has to be reapplied after the size adjustment is made. While replating adds some hassle and cost, it also makes resizing White Gold easier because getting an exact match on the metal underneath the plating is much less important—since it’s never seen.

If you check with local jewelers that tell you the won’t be able to resize your ring, don’t assume that no one can. You should have better luck if you go to a larger jeweler that sells a lot of Rose Gold rings. The sizing process should be simple for them. Since they’re resizing Rose Gold frequently, they’ll have the skills and materials that they need.

Resizing typically costs anywhere between $20 to $150. Decreasing the size of your ring will be less expensive than increasing ring size. When ring-size is increased, additional gold has to be added, which increases the cost of the service. Some retailers do free resizing (at least within a certain timeframe). It’s best to ask about resizing before you buy. If the retailer that you’re thinking of buying from (either online or offline) can’t resize your Rose Gold Ring for you, should you need that, I’d consider buying somewhere else.

This is the online retailer that I trust most for Rose Gold rings. Not only do they offer a huge selection of settings in Rose Gold, but they also have a great return policy and FREE resizing during the first year that you own your ring. Engraving is also complimentary. What’s REALLY interesting, is that they offer so many center stone options. You can purchase a traditional earth-mined diamond, a lab-grown diamond, or a colored gemstone from them (a pink Sapphire can be gorgeous when set against Rose Gold).

If your ring is only a little too large (within a half size or so), a jeweler can add dots to the inside of your band instead, to help it fit more snuggly. You can also use an inexpensive product like this one to adjust the fit of your ring without having to pay a jeweler. It might at least be a helpful temporary measure until you can find the right jeweler to do the work for you. At less than $5, it’s quick and affordable option.

Are Rose Gold Rings Durable?

Rose Gold rings are durable. They aren’t as hard as some metals but they’re harder than many others. You can wear them daily without concern over wearing them out in the course of normal everyday activities. Having said that, they can still get scratched if they come in contact with something hard enough. As with any other type of ring that you value, you should probably take it off before working (or playing) in the yard, or similar environments, where it might come in contact with objects that could gouge or scratch it.

Can Rose Gold Go in Water?

I get these questions a lot…”Can you wear Rose Gold in the pool?” “Can you wear Rose Gold in the Shower?” There are countless other scenario-based questions like those involving water. In reality, Rose Gold is no different than Yellow Gold in terms of care and maintenance. Exposing your ring to water on a regular basis can dull its appearance because of hard water buildup on the surface of the Rose Gold. That dulling effect isn’t a permanent condition though…once you clean your ring it should look as good as new again.

The bigger danger is in repeated exposure to chlorine and saltwater over time. Both of those elements can attack the alloys that hold your prongs in place and weaken them. Copper reacts to bromine (which is used in hot-tubs and pools). Because Copper is such a major component of Rose Gold, this can become a real issue. As prongs are gradually weakened, they’re more likely to bend or break, which could result in the loss of your center stone.

What’s scary about that gradual damage, is that you can see it’s effect with the naked eye. You have to view the ring under a microscope (and know what to look for) in order to recognize the damage that’s accruing over time. Most people glance at their ring, see no visible damage, and then assume that their ring isn’t being harmed by continued contact with pool water for example. I recently had someone tell me that they’ve been swimming with their gold ring on for years, and it’s fine. Yes, it LOOKS fine, but then, they always do right before a prong bends or breaks. I’ve seen this first-hand. It’s happened to my wife’s Gold ring.

I wrote an entire article recently, about whether you should swim, shower, soak in a hot tub, or play in the ocean with your ring on. The focus was on the effect this water (and the chemicals in it) has on both a Moissanite stone and on the Gold that’s in the setting. You may want to review that for information on protecting your ring.

Does Rose Gold Tarnish?

No, while Rose Gold contains a fair amount of copper (which is known to tarnish), Rose Gold is a non-corrosive metal, and fortunately, will not tarnish as it’s exposed to oxygen and other elements.

Can Rose Gold Rust?

No, rust is another form of corrosion that Rose Gold is not susceptible to. Regardless of how often you get your Rose Gold ring wet, it will not rust.

Does Rose Gold Fade with Time?

Rose Gold won’t fade as time passes, but it may take on a slightly darker complexion over the course of many years of wear. The change is something that many welcome and love. It provides a slightly more vintage appearance that can even enhance the look of the ring.

How to Clean Rose Gold Safely?

There are two very common, and inexpensive, methods for cleaning this metal that you may want to consider. For the first, you’ll simply fill a bowl with warm water and a little mild dish soap. After allowing the ring to soak for several minutes, gently scrub it with a baby toothbrush to remove any buildup and restore shine. Rinse well, and dry thoroughly, when you’re done.

Another simple option is to use a white toothpaste (not the colored or get type). Again, you’ll use a wet baby toothbrush to very gently scrub the ring clean before rinsing and drying.

Can Rose Gold Make Your Finger Green or Black?

It’s pretty rare, but some people can experience a green mark on their finger when they wear Rose Gold—especially when it’s brand new. The marks will frequently diminish and then disappear with time.

Why do green finger marks from Rose Gold affect some people but not affect others? There can be several potential causes. Sometimes people are using a lotion, face powder, or some other cream or beauty product that’s causing the issue. They frequently find that the issue completely disappears when they stop using the offending product. The only way to find the product that’s causing the issue, is to rotate though and stop using them (or switch brands) one-by-one for a little while to see if the issue changes.

Sometimes extreme stress, hormonal changes, or even alcohol can lead to green lines from Rose Gold for some individuals. There are some simple and inexpensive treatments that you can do to stop the finger stain while you try to find the underlying culprit. This product can be applied to the inside of your ring to create an invisible barrier between your skin and the ring. It’s long-lasting and effective.

Another solution could be clear fingernail polish. It essentially works the same way, but will probably need to be reapplied more frequently.

Can Rose Gold Irritate Skin?

Since Rose Gold contains Copper, Silver, and Zinc, anyone allergic to those specific metals may experience some irritation, however, it isn’t very common. Those with very sensitive skin will generally only have issues with Rose Gold that’s not at least 18k—because 18k has significantly LESS non-gold alloy in it than 10k or 14k does.

If you frequently have allergic reactions to gold, I’d suggest that you stick with higher-purity 18k or 22k jewelry exclusively.

Does Rose Gold Have Nickel?

Fortunately, Rose Gold typically doesn’t contain any Nickel. Nickel is a common additive in White Gold that can cause real issues for those that have a sensitivity to it. If you have a Nickel allergy, you may want to invest in an inexpensive jewelry testing kit that will quickly let you know if a new jewelry item has Nickel in it. That could save you the risk of a potential reaction for future purchases.

Are Rose Gold Engagement Rings More Expensive?

No, they typically aren’t. The cost of Rose Gold is roughly the same as the cost for Yellow Gold or White Gold of similar purity. That makes sense when you realize that 24k gold is the most expensive ingredient in any type of gold mixture. 14k yellow gold, 14k white gold, and 14k Rose Gold would all have the same amount of 24k mixed in, but the composition of the alloy being mixed in would be a little different in each case, the cost of those various recipes for lower-cost metal allows doesn’t vary significantly.

What is Rose Gold Worth?

Because rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces all come in a wide variety of designs, It’s hard to say categorically how much you should expect to pay for a particular kind of Rose Gold jewelry item, but I can give you some guidelines and resources for determining the basic value for Rose Gold jewelry.

You can start by looking up the spot price for gold. If you do a Google search for the term, “gold spot price per gram,” you’ll see that information displayed at the top of the search result page (without having to click into any particular site. The spot price today, is $47.95 per gram. Knowing this, you would simply need to know the weight and purity of the gold item you would like to buy. If you’re looking at 18k Gold, then it’s 75% gold (18 our of 24 units are gold, while the others are an alloy mixture). This means that after multiplying the weight (in grams) of your gold jewelry item by $47.95 (or whatever the value is when you’re doing this math), you’d need to multiply again by 75% to account for the portion of the item that is composed of pure gold. Make sense?

How Much Does Rose Gold Cost?

While it’s handly to know the process for determining the basic value of a Rose Gold jewelry item, it isn’t very practical for determining what the cost of a new ring should be, because theirs a lot more built into the price than just the value of the metal alone. The easier, and more useful, process, is to shop several trusted retailers to get a sense for what rings of a particular size and style are selling for. As you look at the offerings of enough sellers, you’ll start to recognize a great deal when you see one for the style that you’re most interested in. Here’s the online retailer that I recommend for Rose Gold rings. They’re top-notch, have great service, and really fair prices.

How to Save Significant Money on Rose Gold Jewelry.

Frugal and cheap aren’t the same thing. Frugal means demanding maximum value for every dollar that you spend, while cheap is wrapped up in spending as little as possible. Someone that’s cheap might go for a Rose Gold plated ring—even if it’s not expected to last very long. A Frugal buyer might be willing to pay a little more to purchase a quality ring that’s equally attractive but A LOT more durable. This is where opportunities to purchase Rose Gold Vermeil or Rose Gold Filled jewelry might really be of interest.

What is Gold Vermeil?

First, it’s a word that’s unintentionally mispronounced all the time. People that are unfamiliar with it often say, ‘ver-MEAL’, but it should be pronounced ‘ver-MAY’.

In a nutshell, Rose Gold Vermeil is a thick coating of Rose Gold over a base of Sterling Silver. Sterling Silver costs a small fraction of what Gold costs, so Gold Vermeil can provide a beautiful ring that looks FAR more expensive than it actually was.

How is a Rose Gold Vermeil Different From Simple Rose Gold Plating?

When Gold is applied as a ‘plating’ over another base metal, it can be applied very thinly. Thin plating saves the manufacturer on material costs. Eventually, the plating will wear through. If it’s a very thin layer (and it typically is), that could happen incredibly quickly.

For example, I purchased a beautiful, but very inexpensive, imported ring for my wife. I knew it was a plated ring when I purchased it. I was curious to see how long the plating would hold up. My wife wore the ring constantly for about one-month before the plating was completely shot and the base metal was showing through and discoloring her finger—It was a VERY thin plating.

By contrast, Gold Vermeil is made with at least 10k (more commonly 14k, 18k, or 22k) Gold. It’s also applied to an industry-standard thickness of at least 2.5 microns. That may not sound like much, but compared to gold plating (which has no thickness standards), it’s a drastic improvement.

Another really important difference has to do with the quality, and consistency, of the base metal that is used for each process. A Rose Gold plated (or dipped) ring, for example, will most often have a base of brass, copper, or silver. A Rose Gold Vermeil ring should ALWAYS have a base of Sterling Silver (which is a higher quality metal for Jewelry applications).

The length of time that any piece of jewelry continues to look nice depends on how it’s manufactured and used. It’s a safe bet that Rose Gold Vermeil will outlast a Rose Gold plated ring every time, and should in fact, last for years before any type of treatment or repair might be needed.

You can typically tell that a particular item is Rose Gold Vermeil if the piece appears to be made of Rose Gold, but has ‘.925’ stamped somewhere inside the ring. That stamp means that it’s made with 92.5% pure silver, which is the purity of Sterling Silver. That stamp indicates that even though you see gold on the outside of the ring, there’s Sterling Silver at its core.

What is Rose Gold Filled?

If something is advertised as “rose gold filled” by a reputable retailer, or manufacturer, it means that a thick coating of Rose Gold has been pressure bonded to a base metal (which is usually ‘Jeweler’s Brass’). In order to market a piece of jewelry as Rose Gold filled, it has to have at LEAST 5% of the total weight of the piece in, at least, 14k rose gold. That leads to a gold layer that’s often 100 times thicker than gold plated jewelry has!

Like Gold Vermeil, gold filled jewelry is gold that’s coating a different type of base metal. There are two key distinctions between Rose Gold Vermeil jewelry and Rose Gold Filled Jewelry.

  • The type of base metal used. Gold Vermeil uses Sterling Silver, while Gold-Filled generally utilizes Brass.
  • The thickness of the gold application. Gold Vermeil has to be at least 2.5 microns thick, while Gold Filled has to contain at LEAST 5% of the total jewelry weight in gold, which usually ends up being an even thicker layer than Gold Vermeil utilizes.

Rose Gold Vermeil and Rose Gold Filled jewelry accomplish essentially the same thing in slightly different ways. Both are useful for buying jewelry that appears to be far more expensive than it actually is, and that should last a really long time.

If you see a stamp on your jewelry that says, “1/20 14KGF,” and you’re buying from a reputable retailer, you can be sure that it contains at least 5% Gold. This stamp tells us the percentage of gold that was applied, the purity of that gold (14k), and the fact that it’s a Gold Filled (‘GF’) piece.

You’re kind of getting the best of both worlds when you buy either Gold Vermeil or Gold-filled jewelry, because the part of your ring that matters (how it looks and wears), is essentially the exact same as it would be if it didn’t have a less expensive base metal in the middle. Because the center ISN’T filled with Gold, you’re able to save significant money on the jewelry—and no one is going to see that part of the ring anyway! It’s a great way to purchase a frugal engagement ring that looks, and wears, like an expensive ring.

Rose Gold plating is super thin, Gold Vermeil is significantly thicker, but Rose Gold Filled is the thickest (and most durable) application of gold. Only buy Gold Vermeil and Gold Filled jewelry from retailers and manufacturers that you have real trust and confidence in. There are some sellers that sell plated Rose Gold jewelry as “Gold Filled,” when it’s not even close to meeting those standards, so you have to be careful, especially when buying from unknown sources.

Rolled Gold vs Gold Filled

Most people use these two terms interchangeably, but others use the term ‘Rolled Gold’ to describe something very similar to a Gold Filled product—that has less than 5% gold (and therefore can’t actually qualify as ‘Gold Filled’). Because of the different ways that the term is used, It’s REALLY IMPORTANT to be able to understand the meaning of the stamps on your jewelry—so you can tell what they’re made of.

You might see something like “1/40 14KRG” for example. That stamp would tell you that the piece contains 2.5% gold, with a 14k purity, and that it’s Rolled Gold (“RG”).

Rose Gold Can Save You Money on Your Diamond Too!

Light-colored metals, like Silver, White Gold, and Platinum, work best with extremely colorless center stones. If you have a Diamond, for example, that has a slightly yellow hue, it’s going to stand out when it’s set against something as light as White Gold. The challenge, is that very colorless diamonds sell at a BIG premium.

When you pair a diamond with a slightly yellow hue against a darker metal setting, like Rose Gold, the metal actually makes the stone appear to be more colorless than it actually is. A diamond with a yellow hue might sell for 30% to 50% less than a colorless diamond of the same size. Because of this, you can save SIGNIFICANT money on your diamond by using beautiful Rose Gold, coupled with a Diamond that’s graded as low as ‘J’ or ‘K’, rather than a more colorless ‘D’ or ‘E’.

Does Rose Gold Need to be Dipped?

If your rose gold isn’t plating over some other type of base metal, it’s going to be the same color all the way through. If that’s the case, you won’t need to reapply a coating or ‘dip’ your Rose Gold jewelry. Plated metals like White Gold (which is typically plated with Rhodium) need to have their plating reapplied periodically. That process is sometimes referred to as getting ‘dipped.’

Rose Gold is a lower maintenance metal than White Gold because it doesn’t need this kind of replating. The level of Copper content in Rose Gold also makes it a more durable material than either White Gold or Yellow Gold.

The Pros and Cons of Rose Gold

To summarize and simplify the information that’s been shared to this point, I’ve outlined the primary pros and cons of Rose Gold jewelry below.

The Pros of Rose Gold:

  • The Coloring uniquely complements skin tones and many types of center stones.
  • Much more reasonably priced than some other metal options—due partially to the fact that less expensive ingredients like Copper, Silver, and Zinc make up some portion of the material.
  • Rose gold is low maintenance. It doesn’t have to be plated with something like rhodium the way that white gold does. Rhodium plating eventually wears through, and has to be reapplied.
  • Durability, created through the nature and ration of the alloys that are mixed in. It’s actually more durable than either white or yellow gold.
  • This metal is used for both men’s and women’s jewelry and watches…and can work well in both cases.

The Cons of Rose Gold:

  • Jewelers offer more designs in Yellow or White Gold. Rose Gold is less widely available as an option for specific pieces.
  • Resizing can be a little more difficult.
  • Some people with extreme sensitivity to some of its component metals can experience skin irritation—particularly when wearing gold with higher alloy content (like 10k jewelry).

In Summary

Rose gold is a popular range of gold colors that have been around for quite some time. They can span from light, subtle pinkish undertones, to dark copper-like hues. The metal can be striking and elegant when paired with many styles, skin tones, and center stones. It’s looks, combined with its durability, have made rose gold a popular choice for engagement rings and other jewelry items in the U.S. for many decades.

Related Posts:

Wearing Moissanite in the Pool, Hot Tub, or Shower

The Difference Between a Promise Ring and an Engagement Ring

Will Moissanite Last Forever? | Frugal Family Heirloom Rings