White Gold vs Yellow Gold
The age-old debate of white gold vs. yellow gold is likely not something that will ever have a clear winner. Mostly because to a certain extent, it all boils down to personal preference. It’s possible that the majority of your family members wear exclusively either white or yellow gold, which may sway your own preferences when you start looking at jewelry that you’d like to wear. Or you may already have inherited jewelry from your grandparents or parents that is one color or the other, which would sway your future jewelry purchases.
Many people do prefer that all their jewelry matches so it can be worn together or interchangeable, which makes sense to keep it all the same color. Then there are people who feel that white or yellow gold looks better with their complexion or hair or eye color – perhaps one complements their overall aesthetic in a more pleasing way. The same can be said for matching with your outfit, as the zippers or buckles on clothing or shoes can be white or yellow hued metals.
Regardless of which one you prefer, there are a few things to consider when making a jewelry purchase. There are some pros and cons to both metal colors in terms of durability and appearance that are important to think about.
Yellow gold has a rich history, as it was the only metal worn dating back to ancient Egypt, where it was softened and hammered into different types of jewelry worn only by the elite, as it was seen as a luxury item. White gold wasn’t invented until much later when it was found that by combining gold with other metals, it becomes stronger and also happens to change the color.
Yellow gold is a great option for anyone who has existing older diamonds that may be lower on the color chart, as they will still look bright when set into a yellow gold piece of jewelry. Since the color of the metal reflects into the stone, the fact that the stone itself has hues of yellow will not be as visible. This would also be good if you have a lower budget for the jewelry you’re purchasing, as you can focus more on the diamond clarity than the color grade by setting the stone in a yellow gold mounting.
Diamonds range in color from D (colorless) to Z (very yellow) as indicated in the chart below. Diamonds also come in fancy colors, such as canary yellow, blue, and pink, which are very expensive when they come upon their color naturally!
This positive aspect of yellow gold can also be seen as a negative if you have a diamond with a high color grade, such as D or E. The yellow metal will reflect into the stone, making it appear more yellow than it is, which would essentially defeat the purpose of selecting a stone with a high color grade. For that reason, when choosing a diamond, it’s important to keep in mind what metal color you would like it mounted in. If you plan on yellow gold, it makes more sense to purchase a diamond that is at least G or lower on the color scale.
Another negative aspect of yellow gold is that because it is a softer metal (because of the base metal it is alloyed with) it tends to scratch more easily, and the scratches are more visible than on white metals. This is not a huge deal because if you treat your jewelry with care and take it off when doing physical activity, major damage can be avoided. Any minor scratches that happen with everyday wear can be polished by a trusted jeweler every so often and your jewelry will look like new.
White gold doesn’t have as lengthy of a history as yellow gold since it didn’t become popular until the 19th century. But even so, it is now seen more often as the trendy choice for engagement rings and wedding bands, especially among celebrities. It is for this reason that a lot of people tend to choose white gold over yellow gold. But over the past several years, yellow gold has been making a comeback within the bridal industry, not to mention the rising popularity of rose gold, the pink-hued metal that gets its color from gold being alloyed with copper. White gold is a great alternative to the more expensive white metal, platinum. Since platinum is a heavier metal, the same jewelry item in white gold tends to cost significantly less than its platinum counterpart. This allows people to get the bright white appearance of platinum without the high price tag.
White gold is more durable than yellow gold due to the nickel alloy often used to create the white color. This means that your white gold ring will get less scratched than yellow gold, and those scratches also tend to be less visible on the white gold metal. Not to say that you shouldn’t be just as careful with your white gold jewelry, as it should also be taken off while doing physical activity or working with any household chemicals.
Speaking of the nickel alloy, white gold can cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to nickel. It can cause rashes and discomfort on the skin that alleviate when the jewelry is removed. White gold can be made with other white alloys, such as palladium, but palladium is a more expensive metal and can be difficult to work with, as it tends to be more brittle and difficult to manipulate. This negative aspect of white gold can push people towards purchasing platinum when they believe they may have an allergy to nickel.
White gold gets its bright white finish by being dipped in a rhodium bath, which needs to be re-applied every so often depending upon your body chemistry and the way the gold reacts with your skin. The rhodium will wear off at different rates for different people, so in order to keep your white gold jewelry looking bright and beautiful, it will need to have a spa day with your local jeweler approximately once a year. This can definitely be viewed as a negative, since yellow gold does not require any additional metal application to maintain its color.
Other Things to Think About:
When debating which metal color to use for a specific jewelry item, it is also important to consider the color of the stone being set. The warmth of yellow gold looks better with rubies, citrine, amethysts, and emeralds. The cool tone of white gold nicely complements stones like sapphire, topaz, and diamond.
If you really can’t make up your mind, there’s nothing wrong with having jewelry in both metal colors! Or even better, choose a two (or tri) tone piece of jewelry, where you can combine the colors of your choice, and then you have the best of both worlds.
The thing about all of these pros and cons is that there is no right answer. Each person needs to choose the metal color that they prefer, for whichever set of reasons. Any piece of jewelry that you design or purchase and that you love will be perfect for you. Ideally, weigh all of your options, but as long as you love it, that’s what matters. Gold is a beautiful material that we are lucky to be able to utilize in creating beautiful pieces of art that we can wear for generations!