Compare, Engagement

White Gold vs Yellow Gold: What’s the Difference?

by Haley Anhut
Posted July 3, 2019

Last updated on March 25, 2021

white gold vs yellow gold

White gold and yellow gold diamond engagement rings are two of the most popular colors for this momentous piece of jewelry. But how did they get their start? What is yellow gold? What is white gold? And what exactly is the difference between the two? Let’s take a look at the backstories behind these metals, the karat options you have for each, and some of our best-selling white gold vs yellow gold lab-grown diamond engagement rings.

What’s the difference between white and yellow gold?

There are a lot of similarities between white and yellow gold — both work well with nearly any cut, clarity, and carat of diamond. The main difference between white, yellow, and even rose gold is simply the metal mixture that’s used to make them. Some of the most common metals used to mix with gold are copper, silver, nickel, palladium, and zinc. Depending on what metals are used and the percentage that they’re present will result in these three common colors. White gold has more nickel and zinc, while yellow gold contains more copper.

However, it’s actually the karat number that you should be looking at if you’re concerned about the presence of pure gold. 18 karat yellow gold and 18 karat white gold have the same percentage of gold, plus 6 parts of ‘other metals’ (totaling 24 karats). If you find a ring that’s 24k gold, then it’s 100% pure. However, since gold is such a soft metal, it’s not suggested that you purchase a 24k gold engagement ring.

Is white gold real gold?

Yes! White gold is real gold. But, as mentioned above, when choosing a metal type, you’ll need to look at the number of karats to see just how much of it is pure. It’s most common to find 14 or 18k gold as your options for engagement rings. These options are much more durable than a pure 24k ring, with 14k gold being the harder of the two (the less pure gold that’s present, the better in terms of durability). 

How is white gold made? Well, white gold is actually a combination, or alloy, of gold and a white metal — usually nickel, silver, or palladium. And although a huge part of the variation in color comes from the metal mixture and the types of metal used, white gold is usually also plated with rhodium — a silver/white metal that adds a shiny color and a bit more durability to white gold rings.

What is more expensive white gold or yellow gold?

For the most part, the two metals will be priced equally if they have the same presence of pure gold. Some jewelers will charge a bit more for white gold due to the addition of rhodium plating. However, at Clean Origin, all of our 14kt gold rings are priced the same and our 18kt gold rings are priced the same — regardless of the color.

Another option that you’ll often see that appears to look similar to white gold is platinum. Although it is a different metal, it too has a white/silver look to it but it is not as shiny as white gold. However, the two are not to be confused. In fact, platinum is much more expensive, heavier than white gold, and has more of a grey hint to it. If you’re looking for a super durable option for your ring, platinum is definitely the way to go. However, 14k or 18k white gold is often the more popular choice due to cost.

The history of white and yellow gold

The purest form of gold used in jewelry has been dated back to 4000 B.C. However, it’s most notably used during the Georgian and Victorian eras. During these times gold was used in collaboration with jewels, such as rubies and sapphires. Eventually, jewelers saw the benefit of mixing pure gold with other metals to make a harder and less expensive piece of jewelry. Yellow gold engagement rings were extremely popular in the late 1990s, and are making a comeback with millennials

White gold (as we know it today) was invented in the 19th century but did not become widely popular until the 1920s. Since platinum was needed for so many military purposes, white gold was used in jewelry as an easy and less expensive substitute. It has continued its popularity over the years, with a large shift in engagement rings being made with white gold during the 2000s.

Should I get a white or yellow gold engagement ring?

This will really depend on personal preference! While white gold is a best-seller at the moment, yellow gold is also quickly coming back into style. If you’re stuck between the two, consider the undertones of your skin and try both colors on to see if there’s one that you prefer. In general, cool skin tones look better with white gold or platinum. People with warm skin tones tend to make yellow and rose gold engagement rings really pop. 

If you really can’t decide between white gold vs yellow gold, you don’t have to! Mixing and matching metal colors is actually a huge trend at the moment. If you decide on a white gold engagement ring, add a yellow gold wedding band to create a unique look that incorporates both metals. 

Best-selling white and yellow gold jewelry

At Clean Origin, all of our engagement rings are available in both white and yellow gold. Below are some of our best-selling white and yellow gold rings.

White Gold Engagement Rings

Quiet Beauty

One of our best-selling rings, the quiet beauty of this diamond solitaire is highlighted by a simple 2mm band that allows your lab created stone to shine. Stunning and classic in 14k white gold.

Kate Ring

The Kate is a classic setting made even more refined with an extra slim 1.6 mm diamond-lined band and a graceful hidden halo framing a center stone set low to the finger.

Marseille Solitaire Ring

The Marseille Solitaire features a six-prong setting and dainty tulip motif gallery, perfectly balancing simplicity and femininity.

Yellow Gold Engagement Rings

Alicia Solitaire Ring

The Alicia is a timeless solitaire with graceful cathedral shoulders, compatible with a round lab-created center. Part of our Allegro Collection — delicate designs for a love that just can’t wait. We love adding a pop of color to this setting with yellow gold!

Largo Vintage Ring

A row of high polish gold and a row of 16 prong-set lab created diamonds gently intertwined to create a beautiful ring. Make it all your own with 14 or 18k gold. Available in a bridal set.

1.5mm Solitaire

The 1.5mm Solitaire is a timeless engagement ring with a four-prong design. Pair it with an elongated diamond, such as the oval, to make your engagement ring really stand out!