It can be nerve-wracking to save money to buy, let alone pick out, specific styles of engagement rings. You’ve put in all this time, money and effort, and now you need to decide between things like white gold, yellow gold or even rose gold. If you’re not sure about the difference among the three, don’t worry. Many people don’t. We’ll be talking about the difference between white gold vs. yellow gold and why you and your soon-to-be fiancé may prefer one over the other for your wedding or engagement ring.
The History of White Gold and Yellow Gold
Before we dive into the differences between these two different kinds of gold, it’s important to have an appreciation of the history of both. Since ancient civilizations, people have been wearing gold as a highly regarded status symbol of power and wealth. It was a rare luxury then, and it’s still highly valued today as not only pretty jewelry for wedding rings but a wearable investment.
The yellow gold mixture remained popular until the white gold alloy came into play in the 19th century. Even then, white gold wasn’t very popular for engagement rings until the 1920s, when there needed to be a substantial substitute for platinum due to the war. Platinum was needed for military machinery, so white gold has continued to maintain its popularity to this day.
Gold Rings vs. Platinum Rings
Besides the war effort needing all of that platinum for the military machinery, platinum rings are typically even softer than gold. Yes, platinum rings are more valuable than gold rings because platinum is rarer than gold, but platinum engagement and wedding rings will get dull and scratched over time. Compared to white gold, platinum is much more expensive, even though the two look incredibly similar. One key difference is that platinum is a denser precious metal, meaning that the weight will be higher than that of a white gold ring. This increase in weight is one of the reasons why platinum tends to be more expensive than white gold.
How About Rose Gold?
Since rose gold’s fashionable revival in the early 2010s, it’s been an engagement ring trend that won’t go away. Rose gold is more pinkish than yellow and white gold. Depending on the karat of rose gold you choose, this wedding or engagement ring composition is usually a mix of silver and copper. You’ll normally see rose gold used for vintage pieces. Rose gold rings will look rosier the more that copper is used in the alloy. Because of that mixture, rose gold is often more durable than yellow gold. However, rose gold is not considered a hypoallergenic metal and can cause reactions for those who are allergic to copper, zinc or silver, especially for people with sensitive skin.
Differences Between White Gold and Yellow Gold
According to the International Gem Society, the color of gold changes depending on the alloy, so white gold normally doesn’t contain silver or else it would soften the gold too much and give it a greenish tint. It’s often helpful to look at both white gold and yellow gold wedding and engagement ring options to see the difference for yourself. Just use our store locator to find a local Verragio boutique near you to look at these different rings in person. Enter your zip code on our store locator page to find white gold and yellow gold engagement rings near you.
Why People Pick White Gold
White gold often coincides with platinum, but it’s much more affordable compared to pure platinum. This type of metal features more metal alloys and does appear silver due to the cooler tones. Even though it’s been so popular since the 1920s, it still has a modern feel, so many will see that white gold is quite timeless. White gold engagement rings are also normally alloyed with stronger metals than yellow gold, so it’s more scratch-resistant and durable. Aesthetically speaking, white gold easily matches with a wide array of other colored gemstones, especially diamonds. White gold complements basically any skin tone, so it’s a popular choice for its universally aesthetic beauty. If you like the look of platinum rings but don’t want to pay the platinum price, white gold is an affordable alternative.
White gold rings are normally mixed with metals like nickel. Consider how your white gold engagement or wedding ring will look when it pairs with other jewelry. White gold has a gorgeous white-silver luster that easily matches with other types of metal jewelry. This metal pairs wonderfully with sapphires, emeralds and colorless diamonds.
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Choosing Your White Gold Ring
Basically, every kind of diamond cut looks fabulous with a white gold band. If you’re trying to decide between a 14K or 18K ring, a 14K is more scratch-resistant and durable compared to the 18K ring. White gold is truly a beauty to look at no matter what kind of center stone is in the middle of that engagement ring.
Why Some Prefer Yellow Gold
While white gold has more of a contemporary look, yellow gold has historically been the most popular kind of gold for engagement rings. It’s a more malleable precious metal, known for its inviting and warm appearance. Yellow gold engagement rings have a classic retro look for anyone looking for a traditional engagement ring. With any standard gold jewelry cleaner, a yellow gold engagement ring is very easy to maintain. When anyone takes a look at your beautifully classic yellow gold engagement ring, everyone knows it’s a pretty gold ring. It’s also often more hypoallergenic than white gold. If you plan on getting a diamond engagement ring with a lower color grade, the yellow gold band will give off a certain warmth.
Yellow gold rings are typically mixed with metals like copper. It’s true that yellow gold looks great on so many people. Yellow gold also pairs well with warm stones like purple gemstones, morganite and ruby. For a wearable investment, get any of our 18K yellow gold rings, the purest formula of wearable everyday gold.
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Choosing Your Yellow Gold Ring
When in doubt, a round cut diamond engagement ring offers a beautiful contrast with a yellow gold band. Try a yellow gold engagement ring with a yellow diamond or a yellow sapphire. For a contemporary look, try a pink sapphire as the center stone.
Is Yellow Gold Better Than White Gold?
It’s a common misconception that yellow gold is better than white gold just because yellow gold has that natural yellow gold look to it. Pure gold is 24K, so that’s why even fine jewelry will typically be in varieties between 10K to 18K to be strong enough to wear your ring every day. A higher karatage means purer gold content, but it also means your ring is easier to scratch than a ring with a lower karat count. That means if you have an 18K gold ring, it’s made up of 18 parts gold and six parts alloys. To make yellow, white or rose gold, the composition of the alloys varies to make those different hues.
Granted, compared to white gold or rose gold, yellow gold is the only type of gold that can be crafted from pure 24K gold and does not need to be mixed with other alloys to get that natural yellow finish. Keep in mind, though, that gold is a malleable and delicate metal, so it may end up being less durable than white gold or other types of gold engagement rings. A pure 24K yellow gold ring would simply be too fragile to wear.
Maintaining Your White Gold or Yellow Gold Rings
When deciding between these two types of gold rings, you’ll want to consider durability and maintenance. If you work with your hands frequently or are very active, you may want a more durable white gold ring. Yellow gold needs regular rebuffing and polishing since it’s more prone to getting dented or scratched.
Although white gold may be more durable, these rings still need TLC. Many white gold engagement rings come with a rhodium plating that gives them a brilliant white hue and adds another layer of resistance against dents and scratches, but that plating does need to be replaced every few years. Many jewelers will redip the white gold for you to keep it looking brand new.
Which Should You Pick?
- Consider Their Style By Asking About It — Perhaps your significant other has been talking about how they hope you’ll propose to them soon. They may have talked about their dream ring with their best friend or a close family member you can ask. If they use social media, you may be able to look up their dream wedding Pinterest board or at who they’re following on Instagram or TikTok to see what kind of jewelry accounts they like.
- Personal Preference — It’s all up to your preference and their personal preference. Of course, you’ll want to keep in mind what their friends and family may say about their taste, but this is your future fiancé here. You know in your heart what kind of ring you and your fiancé would both enjoy. If you’re still having a hard time deciding or feel like you’re ultimately drawn to both, consider other factors like skin undertones. Cooler skin tones or those with fair and rosy skin complement well with white gold. Those with warmer skin tones or people with darker or olive skin match well with yellow gold.
- Composition — Overall, you’ll want to think about composition. You may decide that you want a yellow gold engagement ring, but the setting and actual diamond actually look better on the white gold band. Also, consider the 4Cs altogether for choosing the diamond on the engagement ring: cut, color, clarity and carat. Of these four, focus more on the cut of the diamond because if a large diamond has a poor quality cut, it’ll look dim and dull because it won’t reflect light as well.
- Diamond Styles and Shapes — You’ll want to also think about the diamond setting style and shape. Each shape has a different style, and each setting will impact the style, whether it’s unique and modern or classic and inspired by tradition. Round cuts, princess cuts and emerald cuts are quite common for diamond shapes. Some of the more popular settings include the diamond solitaire, pavé, three stone, oval and halo. You may have been so focused on the white gold or yellow gold band that you haven’t even thought of side stones as a way to dress up the engagement ring. Possibilities include colored gemstones and smaller diamonds flanking the center stone.
- Price — You don’t have to spend a fortune on the perfect engagement or wedding ring. Despite the rules that people throw around, like spending the equivalent of three months’ salary on an engagement ring, you don’t have to follow those outdated rules. Spend what you’re comfortable with. That means spending as little as you want or even going all out and getting a piece that will really wow you and your fiancé for the rest of your lives together.
- Upgrading — If budget is a concern, but you want to marry the love of your life today, you don’t have to get that bold and flashy ring today. You can upgrade the engagement ring for a special occasion like a milestone anniversary or birthday. Your future dream ring may be out of reach today, but it could very well be a possibility just a few years from now. Don’t let that stop you from proposing to the person you love.
- Why Not Both — If you still want the best of both worlds, consider mixing and matching both metals. Your partner can wear a white gold wedding band with a yellow gold engagement ring. You can get a white gold wedding band for yourself and a yellow gold wedding band for them. Ultimately, while yellow gold remains a traditional favorite, white gold continues to be a modern, versatile choice for contemporary couples.
Ultimately, the white gold or yellow gold wedding or engagement ring depends on your taste and comfort. No matter what you choose, you’ll be picking a beautiful engagement and wedding ring that will be fondly looked at every day by you and your partner. It’s a symbol of your love and the rest of your lives together — and that starts the moment the rings are both on your fingers.