Should I opt for gold or platinum?
Gold and platinum are the two precious metals most commonly used in wedding and engagement rings. While the metals are clearly different in hue and have their own unique qualities, they also share a number of similarities. To help you decide which of the metals is best suited to your needs, we’ve drawn up a thorough comparison of the two below, taking into account factors such as cost, appearance, durability and comfort, as well as a little advice surrounding allergies and proper jewellery care.
What do gold and platinum look like?
The most obvious difference between gold and platinum is their respective colours. Gold is naturally a yellowish hue, whilst platinum is naturally a vibrant white. Naturally, those hoping for a warm-toned ring should opt for gold, while those looking for a bright and cool-toned ring may opt for platinum, or the lesser-known white gold.
White gold is made white thanks to a combination of gold, rhodium plating and alloys. In this way, it is very close in appearance to platinum while retaining the same gold content and purity of yellow gold. Indeed, the only real difference between yellow gold and white gold is the alloys that are used.
Although freshly bought white gold looks almost identical to platinum, its appearance is likely to deteriorate or alter more quickly. Indeed, the rhodium plating in white gold is liable to wear off and fade over time, rendering it a yellowish colour. These effects, however, can be reversed with the help of re-polishing and re-plating.
Platinum will not undergo these yellowing effects as it is naturally white, meaning it is a lower-maintenance metal than white gold. The average time for rhodium re-plating is around every six to twelve months. This will keep white gold looking shiny, white and new for years.
How are the metals graded?
Gold is measured according to a scale known as the karat scale. The purest and therefore most precious gold available is 24 karats (24K). It is also, however, the most delicate and is liable to bend with daily wear. That is why lower karat rings are often a good option for those who want their rings to be strong and wearable on a daily basis. A 12K ring, for example, contains an alloy that contains 50% gold.
A popular grade for wedding and engagement rings is 18K as it contains 75% pure gold and is more wearable than the 24K option. A grade of 14K, however, is probably the most popular thanks to its affordability and durability.
Platinum is not graded according to the karat scale but comes with its own measuring system. The most common grading option for those buying platinum rings is 950PLAT (or PT), an alloy that contains 95% platinum along with another metal, typically ruthenium or iridium. The cost of a platinum ring rises in line with the percentage of platinum in the alloy.
Durability and wearability
Platinum is a massive 60% heavier than gold, meaning it is much more tough, durable and rigid. Indeed, ring wearers who are prone to accidents or wear-and-tear may benefit from opting for a platinum ring over a gold option. What’s more, the prongs that can hold a gem or stone are much stronger if they are made out of platinum compared to gold, meaning they will require much less maintenance as the years go by.
In terms of the durability of its appearance, platinum is also a great option. While neither platinum nor gold will tarnish at the same rate as silver, platinum is likely to retain its sparkle for longer.
Platinum may scratch more easily than lower-grade gold
Although platinum is an eminently tough metal, it is softer than 14K gold. That means it is likely to get scratched more easily than a lower-grade gold.
Having said this, however, scratches are not necessarily unattractive on a platinum ring. While gold rings lose their vibrancy when scratched, platinum rings develop something known as a patina finish over time. This is an aesthetically pleasing effect that can give a platinum piece the look of an antique ring. What’s more, a little re-polishing will help restore a scratched platinum ring almost back to its original brilliance.
How expensive are platinum and gold?
The difference in price between platinum and 18K gold per 1g is very slight on the current market. Therefore, ring buyers tend to base their choices on aesthetic preferences and considerations surrounding durability. For example, gold offers more colour options (rose, white and yellow), whilst platinum is likely to look better for longer and is less susceptible to damage.
How to care for platinum and gold
Gold and platinum rings require a similar level of care. One of the key rules to remember is to remove rings before bathing or using caustic household chemicals as this can damage their appearance. It is also a good idea to keep gold rings in a soft pouch while they are not being worn.
A diluted mix of liquid detergent and lukewarm water can be used in combination with a cloth or toothbrush for minor, everyday cleaning. More stubborn dirt such as oil and grease can be removed with the help of plain rubbing alcohol.
For serious stains, deep cleansing can be conducted by a professional jeweller.
Considerations for those with metal allergies
Those with metal allergies tend to be allergic to the alloys found in gold (particularly nickel). As such, those who suffer from such allergies will benefit from opting for platinum as it is hypoallergenic.