White Gold vs Yellow Gold: Key Differences Beyond Color

White Gold vs Yellow Gold: Key Differences Beyond Color

Are you curious about which is superior, white gold or yellow gold? If so, you’ve come to the perfect spot!

Within this educational resource, I will compare these two valuable metals and provide insights into inquiries such as:

  • Is yellow gold more resilient compared to white gold?
  • Does white gold come with a higher price tag?
  • Which gold is more fashionable?

Differences Between White Gold and Yellow Gold

Take a glance at this handy comparison between these two trendy metals for rings. If you want more detailed information, feel free to peruse my article below.

White Gold


  • Jewelry stores offer a wider variety of white gold ring settings to choose from.
  • It’s a more budget-friendly alternative compared to platinum engagement rings and wedding bands.
  • White gold jewelry possesses a bit more durability than yellow gold due to its metal alloys.


  • To maintain its vibrant appearance, white gold requires rhodium plating.
  • On average, the cost of reapplying rhodium plating ranges from $60 to $120 without a warranty.
  • Unless it’s free of nickel, white gold isn’t considered entirely hypoallergenic.

Yellow Gold


  • Yellow gold retains its color without the need for rhodium plating.
  • It’s relatively uncommon to come across yellow gold rings.
  • Individuals with heightened skin sensitivities may find yellow gold more suitable.


  • Jewelry stores tend to have limited options for yellow gold.
  • Yellow gold can sometimes give off a fake appearance.
  • It’s common for yellow gold to be plated over other different metals.


Gold, a valuable metal that has been cherished in jewelry-making since 4000 BC, continues to be a popular choice for crafting engagement rings and wedding bands today.

When you visit jewelry stores, you’ll notice that white gold is more readily available compared to yellow gold. The preference for white gold gained momentum in the 1990s, surpassing the once-dominant popularity of yellow gold.

Yellow gold underwent a transformation from being seen as a symbol of luxury to being considered gaudy. During this time, many costume jewelry pieces imitated the appearance of gold through paint or gold plating, rather than using solid gold.

It’s important to note that pure gold, also known as 24k gold, is too soft to be used in jewelry. Its malleable nature wouldn’t withstand the wear and tear of everyday activities.

To enhance its strength, gold must be combined with other metals. These metals, collectively referred to as metal alloys, vary in composition. The karat measurement of gold jewelry depends on the proportion of pure gold to the metal alloy used.

The color of gold doesn’t affect how it is measured. Whether it’s white gold, rose gold, black gold, red gold, or purple gold, all gold jewelry follows the same measurement standards.

Different types of gold jewelry, such as white gold, made its appearance in the jewelry scene around the mid-1990s. This was a time when other white metals like platinum and soon after, palladium, were gaining popularity.

The manufacturing process for white gold jewelry is similar to that of yellow gold jewelry. Both types involve mixing the gold with a metal alloy to enhance its strength.

The primary distinction between yellow and white gold lies in the specific metal alloys blended with the gold.

To create yellow gold, the gold is combined with metal alloys like copper and zinc.

On the other hand, white gold jewelry utilizes various white metal alloys, including nickel, palladium, manganese, platinum, and silver. However, the shiny silver appearance of white gold is not solely attributed to these alloys. The credit goes to rhodium, a metal from the platinum group, which is plated over all white gold jewelry.

Appearance – White Gold vs Yellow Gold

Yellow Gold

Many people make the assumption that all yellow gold looks the same, but that’s not accurate.

Unlike white gold jewelry, yellow gold is used either entirely or partially to create solid gold jewelry or gold plated jewelry.

The appearance of your yellow gold jewelry piece is determined by its karat gold content. The higher the purity of gold, the more vibrant and yellow it will appear.

For instance, an 18K gold ring may seem overly bright to some individuals, while a 10K yellow gold engagement ring might display a softer and less intense shade of yellow.

image; GD1

Yellow gold is frequently used to plate other metals, providing a luxurious appearance without the hefty price tag of solid gold jewelry.

In the market, you can find different types of gold jewelry, including gold-filled, gold-plated, and vermeil gold. Gold plating involves electroplating a layer of gold over a base metal.

  • When the underlying metal is sterling silver, the jewelry is commonly known as vermeil.
  • Gold-filled jewelry is characterized by gold plating that is at least 0.5 microns thick in any karat.
  • Gold-plated jewelry, on the other hand, has gold plating that is under 0.5 microns thick in any karat.


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White Gold

I’ve encountered so many people who want to buy white gold engagement rings and wedding bands but explicitly express their dislike for gold and preference for silver. Surprisingly, about 98% of them are actually referring to white gold rings, not sterling silver ones. They are often unaware of this distinction.

The main misconception about white gold is that people often mistake it for silver jewelry. Unlike silver, which tarnishes easily and doesn’t fare well in water without quick drying, white gold doesn’t tarnish and can withstand water exposure. However, I still advise against wearing any jewelry in water in the first place.

While white gold rings don’t oxidize like sterling silver jewelry, they still require some maintenance. The rhodium plating that gives white gold its bright and shiny appearance eventually fades over time, although the duration varies depending on the individual.

It’s worth noting that the rhodium on white gold rings and earrings tends to fade faster than on necklaces or bracelets. The fading of rhodium is caused by dirt, dust, and natural oils on our skin, rather than being an indicator of the gold or jewelry quality.

Our hands come into contact with more dirt compared to our necks or wrists, and earrings constantly interact with the skin through their posts. This constant rubbing affects the rhodium plating on the jewelry, and you’ll notice the fading when the bottom of your ring shank appears pale yellow and becomes dull, possibly with minor scratches.

Fortunately, there’s no need to worry. A local jeweler or the retailer where you purchased the jewelry should be able to re-plate the rhodium, restoring it to its original condition.

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Price Difference – White Gold vs Yellow Gold

When it comes to pricing, there shouldn’t be any significant difference between white gold and yellow gold jewelry, as long as the amount of karat gold remains the same. This principle also applies to rose gold jewelry.

However, there may be exceptions to this rule when it comes to custom-made engagement rings or wedding bands. If you’re purchasing loose diamonds and empty ring settings with the option to choose the gold color, it shouldn’t incur additional costs.

On the other hand, if a diamond ring needs to be recreated in a different gold color, the price may increase.

Jewelry that is plated with yellow gold or made of vermeil (gold-plated sterling silver) will generally cost less than a solid white gold ring.

The actual price of gold can vary, and you can find the daily spot price for selling gold. However, if you’re not selling gold jewelry or scrap gold, the spot price has little impact on the prices of jewelry. Retail stores tend to adjust their prices according to inflation, rather than solely basing them on gold prices. Such price adjustments typically occur once a year.

For example, a plain 14K gold wedding band from a reputable jewelry store may range in price from $150 to $700, depending on its width.

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Rings with two tones or three tones of gold may have a higher price tag since they are slightly more challenging to create.

Multi-tone gold rings can be found in various combinations, such as white gold and yellow gold, yellow gold and sterling silver, rose gold and sterling silver, rose gold and white gold, white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold, and yellow gold, rose gold, and sterling silver.

The cost of a gold band can increase based on the style of the ring and the intricacy of the metals involved. For instance, a carved gold wedding band with intricate designs may range in price from $400 to $1000, depending on the complexity of the carvings.

Higher prices in jewelry often arise from the use of mixed metals, elaborate ring settings, and the incorporation of gemstones.

Value – White Gold vs Yellow Gold

When buying jewelry, it’s important to consider more than just the price. The overall value of the engagement or wedding ring should play a significant role in your decision-making.

One aspect of value to consider is the longevity of the jewelry. Fine jewelry, especially those worn frequently like wedding rings, will require maintenance over the years. Most people intend to wear their gold wedding rings for a long time.

As you may know, gold is a soft metal, which makes it prone to getting nicks and scratches. It’s surprising how often our hands accidentally bump into various surfaces throughout the day, regardless of our lifestyle.

Additionally, the accumulation of dirt and dust can necessitate jewelry repairs for gold rings. You will need accessories like jewelry glues, pliers, among others for repairs.

In the case of white gold jewelry, you’re probably aware that it requires rhodium plating. This process helps restore the silver coloring and high polish characteristic of white gold.

On the other hand, yellow gold rings do not require rhodium plating. They only need regular polishing to maintain their shiny yellow color.

The cost of rhodium plating for white gold rings can range from $40 to $120 per ring, depending on the complexity of the design.

To clean and polish a yellow gold ring, the typical expense ranges from $25 to $50.


Maintenance costs for yellow gold rings are lower compared to other metals like white gold because they don’t require rhodium plating. This makes yellow gold a better long-term investment in terms of value for your money.

But here’s the good news—I have a solution for you. Pay close attention.

The additional expense of rhodium plating doesn’t have to be the determining factor that discourages you from choosing yellow gold or rose gold. There are alternative options available.

Final Thoughts – White Gold vs Yellow Gold

Deciding between white gold and yellow gold jewelry doesn’t have to be a difficult choice. These two options are quite similar in terms of quality, so your choice should be based on what suits you best.

While white gold may not be entirely hypoallergenic, many white gold rings are made without nickel alloys. This is beneficial for individuals with sensitive skin, as nickel can cause adverse reactions.

Although rhodium plating for white gold may incur additional long-term costs, you can opt for a retailer warranty that covers rhodium-related issues. For instance, James Allen provides rhodium plating services under their lifetime repair warranties.

As you can see, any concerns favoring yellow gold over white gold can be addressed and resolved.

Ultimately, the decision is entirely yours. Personally, I used to have a preference for white gold rings, but now I appreciate different ring settings and shapes in various metals.

If you’re finding it challenging to choose between the two, I would suggest going with the option that feels more comfortable and suits your style.

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