You may notice when shopping for an engagement ring that there is a larger selection of white metal rings than those crafted in colored metals. Many people agree that diamonds set in a white metal appear both larger and brighter. But what white metal is best? Both are excellent choices for engagement rings, but there are differences in how they wear, as well as in their weight, strength, maintenance, and cost.
White gold (wg) and platinum look identical when new. 14 karat wg is approximately 60% pure gold, alloyed with a mixture of white metals such as zinc and nickel to produce a slightly yellow white metal. The mirror-bright finish of wg is achieved by applying a micro-thin coating of rhodium, which wears off over time, gradually exposing the pale yellow metal underneath. When this happens, it’s time to get the ring re-dipped, which on average costs between $35 and $50.
Platinum is a naturally white metal that is 95% pure. Its relatively soft surface quickly develops a muted, satiny patina, but the metal underneath is extremely hard. It’s also 60% heavier than wg, giving platinum rings a very substantial heft. Platinum’s superior tensile strength makes it ideal for delicate filigree detailing and pavé settings. Another key benefit of platinum is that its original high luster finish can be easily restored at no cost by simply buffing the surface. On average, you can expect to pay approximately $500 more for platinum than wg in a typical engagement ring.