Gold vs Platinum: Methods to Select

Composition – What Platinum is made of

Pure 24 karat gold is incredibly soft and is alloyed with harder metals like copper, nickel, silver, zinc, and palladium to bolster its strength and durability for jewelry. The gold’s color is determined by which alloys are used.

  • 18 karat gold (the most popular choice for fine jewelry) is made from 75% gold and 25% other alloys.
  • 14 karat gold is made of 58.3% gold and 41.7% other alloys.

Platinum on the other hand, is naturally very dense, meaning fine jewelry can be made from 95% platinum and only 5% other silver-toned alloys like iridium, ruthenium, or cobalt . Palladium is another option if purity is important to you – jewelry pieces can be made from 95% palladium and 5% other alloys.

Durability

There are two factors in precious metal durability:

  • Hardness: how it resists scratches, dents, and surface wear.
  • Malleability: how easy it is to bend and shape. More malleable = less brittle/less prone to breaking but more prone to bending.

Because gold is mixed with other alloys, it’s harder than platinum, meaning platinum jewelry becomes scratched more easily. Gold is also more malleable than platinum, meaning it’s easier for jewelers to bend and work with. It also means means that platinum is less prone to bending, making it slightly more secure for setting gemstones.

The moral of the story: both metals are very durable in different ways. Either is a safe, secure, and long-lasting choice for a fine jewelry setting.

Hypoallergenic or not?

Platinum is considered a hypoallergenic metal. Because it contains minimal added alloys, the allergy potential goes way down. You can also consider palladium white gold if you have a copper, zinc, or nickel allergy, palladium – it’s another great hypoallergenic option.

Yellow, rose, white, and peach gold are all alloyed with metals like copper, nickel, and zinc which can cause skin sensitivity in people with metal allergies. This isn’t a concern with white gold, which is usually coated with rhodium to act as a barrier and eliminate most skin sensitivities.

What is rhodium? It’s a white precious metal in the platinum family that gives white gold that bright shiny color. Rhoduim plating wears down with time and must be replated to keep the ring looking bright shiny white. Some people have their rings replated every year, some times every few years. The need to do so determined by personal preference and how much wear and tear the wearers ring gets.

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