By Gem Dynasty
January 2, 2015
If you’re not going to get an engagement ring with traditional yellow gold as the band, you’re probably going to ask this question of yourself.
In reality, it’s a little like asking, “which is better, the Bugatti Veryon or the McLaren F1?” Each is stunning in its own right and, whichever you choose, you’ll add “that extra touch” to the diamond engagement ring that’s sure to make your partner’s eyes wide and knees weak.
White gold is not an element unto itself; it is formed by mixing an alloy of yellow gold and a white metal, such as nickel, palladium or manganese. Some people are allergic to nickel, however, so some companies that make white gold diamond engagement rings don’t use nickel. In most cases, the alloy is made up of 90 percent yellow gold and 10 percent of the other metal. For this reason, it’s possible to measure the karat purity of white gold using the same scale as yellow gold.
Yellow gold-palladium alloys are soft; therefore, they’re most often used for gemstone settings instead of the rings themselves. Yellow gold-nickel alloys are far stronger and are the chief component of white gold engagement rings. To offset the possibility of allergic reactions from nickel content, and to keep them looking white, all white gold rings are plated with rhodium.
Platinum is one of the rarest metals in the Earth’s crust. Only 150 – 300 tons are mined each year in total, and this makes it highly prized by Los Angeles jewelers. It is more ductile than gold, which means, despite being harder than iron, it can be easily formed into rings and gemstone setting posts. Platinum used in jewelry must be between 90 and 95 percent pure. Otherwise, it must be labeled as platinum alloy. Initially, platinum rings have a mirror-like, gray appearance. Over time, they’ll pick up scratches and other marks that convert the surface to a patina.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The chief advantage of white gold rings is that they, usually, cost about half as much as platinum rings of comparable size. This, in turn, allows you to spend more of your budget on the actual diamond of the engagement ring. The biggest disadvantage of white gold is that it will revert to its normal, yellow color without periodic rhodium replating. This process is not usually expensive, however, and a few jewelers in Los Angeles will even do it for free.
Platinum rings, on the other hand, will never tarnish in any way because they’re almost completely unreactive. The patina that develops on them further accentuates the scintillating brilliance of any diamonds set in them, which is why patina finishes are as popular as they are. If you want the mirror finish instead, a jeweler can restore it at roughly the same cost as reapplying rhodium to white gold. The main disadvantage of platinum engagement rings is their cost.
It all comes down to personal preference. For those who cannot decide between white gold and platinum, one of the specially trained, expert goldsmiths working in the Los Angeles Jewelry District can mix the two in an all-conquering, magnificent alloy.
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