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

by Haley Anhut
Last updated on September 1, 2023

White gold and yellow gold are popular metals for meaningful diamond engagement rings. But how did they get their start? And what exactly is the difference between the two?

Let’s look at the backstories behind these metals, the karat options you have for each, and some of our best-selling white gold and yellow gold lab grown diamond engagement rings.

What’s the Difference?

White and yellow gold engagement rings.
White Gold and Yellow Gold Rings Solitaire Settings

There are a lot of similarities between white and yellow gold — both work well with nearly any cutclarity, and carat of a diamond. The key differences between white, yellow, and rose gold are the mixed metals used to make them.

Some of the most common metals mixed with gold are copper, silver, nickel, palladium, and zinc. The three standard colors result from different mixtures of metals. White gold has more nickel and zinc, while yellow gold contains more copper.

Pure Gold Jewelry

Not all jewelry is pure gold. Look at the karat number to determine the pure gold content in a ring. 

For example, 18 karat yellow gold and 18 karat white gold have the same percentage of gold, plus six parts of ‘other metals’ (totaling 24 karats).

It’s most common to find 14k or 18k gold as your options for engagement rings. A pure 24k ring has less durability than these mixed metal alloys. The less pure gold that’s present, the more durable the ring is.

If you find a ring that is 24 karat gold, then it’s 100% pure. Gold is a very soft metal, which is why we do not suggest you purchase jewelry in 24k gold.

Is White Gold Real Gold?

White gold engagement rings of different shapes.
White Gold Rings

White gold is definitely real gold. It simply has a different mixture of other metals in it. White gold also has a special coating on the outside to give it luster and beauty.

Making White Gold

White gold is an alloy or combination of gold and another metal — usually nickel, silver, or palladium. These metals are mixed together, and the white gold alloys are then used to make jewelry.

A considerable part of the color variation comes from the metal mixture and the types of metal used. Not all alloy metals are made the same.

Rhodium Plating

White has a layer of rhodium coating — a silver metal that adds a shiny color and more durability to white gold rings. The rhodium gives white gold a beautiful luster and its shiny silver color.

The actual color of white gold may have some yellow, brown, or pale pink gold hues to it. Rhodium-plated rings need upkeep every few years to keep the ring looking bright and silver. A new alloy metal of white gold is being developed that does not need to be rhodium plated, but it is not widely available yet.

Which One Is More Expensive?

Clean Origins stunning white and yellow gold wedding bands.
White and Yellow Gold Bands

For the most part, both metals are equally priced if they have the same pure gold content. Some jewelers charge a bit more for white gold due to the addition of rhodium plating.

At Clean Origin, all of our jewelry in 14k gold and 18k gold have the same price — regardless of the color.

Platinum Jewelry

Platinum and white gold are two trendy metal choices for fine jewelry, especially engagement rings.

The two look similar, but platinum is a naturally white metal and known as one of the most durable metals. Platinum rings are more expensive and require some upkeep because platinum scratches easily

White gold is made by mixing yellow gold with alloy metals such as palladium. This metal usually has a rhodium plating which has to be replaced after years of wear.

The initial cost of a white gold ring is more affordable than a platinum ring. Since white gold is a soft metal, it requires reshaping every so often. In addition, the ring may need new rhodium plating every few years, which may cost extra.

The History of Gold Jewelry

Yellow gold engagement ring paired with wedding band.
Yellow Gold Engagement Ring With Wedding Band

The purest form of gold used in jewelry dates back to 4000 B.C. It was most notably used during the Georgian and Victorian eras. During these times, gold was a precious metal used in collaboration with other jewels such as rubies and sapphires.

Eventually, jewelers saw the benefit of mixing pure gold with other metals to make jewelry more durable and less expensive. Pure gold mixed with other metals is now standard practice for jewelry.

Yellow gold engagement rings were trendy in the late 1990s and are coming back with millennials

While white gold came about in the 19th Century, it did not become widely popular until the 1920s. Since platinum was for many military purposes, white gold jewelry was an easy and less expensive substitute. It has grown its popularity over the years, with many jewelers offering engagement rings made with this metal.

Which One Should You Get?

Beautiful white gold wedding stack.

The type of gold you get for your engagement ring or wedding band depends on personal preference. While white gold is a best-seller at the moment, yellow gold is also quickly coming back into style.

If you find yourself 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 silver tones. People with warm skin tones tend to make yellow and rose gold engagement rings really pop. 

Mixing and matching metal colors is also 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 Gold Jewelry

At Clean Origin, you can find a diamond engagement ring in any setting you desire. Our jewelry is available in platinum, white gold, and rose gold.

The precious metal used at Clean Origin is recycled and certified by the Responsible Jewelry Council. Both yellow and white gold are stunning choices, find your perfect white or yellow gold engagement ring with Clean Origin. With Clean Origin, you can be sure you are wearing gorgeous jewelry at an affordable price with no extra cost to the planet. Let’s explore some of our favorites below. 

White Gold Engagement Rings

Quiet Beauty

Lab created white gold engagement ring.
Quiet Beauty Ring
White gold engagement ring.

As one of our best-selling rings, the quiet beauty of this diamond solitaire adds a highlight to the simple 2mm band that allows your lab created stone to shine.

Kate Ring

Kate Ring
Stunning white gold engagement ring featuring pave diamonds.

The Kate Ring has a classic setting refined with an extra slim 1.6 mm diamond-lined band. A graceful hidden halo frames the center gem making this ring a stunning choice set low to the finger.

Marseille Solitaire Ring

Marseille Solitaire Ring

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

More Engagement Rings

Alicia Solitaire Ring

Alicia Ring

The Alicia Ring is a timeless solitaire with graceful cathedral shoulders, compatible with a center gem. As a part of our Allegro Collection, this ring has delicate designs for a love that can’t wait. We love adding a pop of color to this setting with yellow gold! It is also available in platinum and white gold. Or, for added contrast, consider a yellow diamond!

Largo Vintage Ring

Largo Vintage Ring
Largo vintage yellow gold engagement ring, featuring a round diamond.

gently intertwined to create a beautiful ring are a row of high polish gold and a row of 16 prong-set lab created diamonds. Make it all your own with 14k or 18k gold. The band is available in a bridal set and in an assortment of precious metals, including rose gold. 

1.5mm Solitaire

1.5MM Ring

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

Whether you’re looking for an engagement ring or a 6th wedding anniversary jewelry gift, we have something for you in white gold, yellow gold, and even rose gold. Shop with us today!