Compare, Engagement

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

by Haley Anhut
Posted July 3, 2019

Last updated on April 13, 2022

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? 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 vs yellow gold lab-grown diamond engagement rings.

What’s the Difference?

There are a lot of similarities between white and yellow gold — both work well with nearly any cutclarity, 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 it made? Well, white gold is actually a combination, or alloy, of gold and another 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, it is usually also plated with rhodium — a silver metal that adds a shiny color and a bit more durability to white gold rings.

Which One Is More Expensive?

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.

Platinum Jewelry

Platinum and white gold are two very popular 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. However, it is a bit more expensive and requires some upkeep because platinum scratches more easily than white gold. 

White gold is made from mixing yellow gold with alloy metals such as palladium, and usually has a rhodium plating which also has to be replaced after years of wear. The initial cost of white gold is more affordable than platinum, but you have to replace your rhodium plating and reshape your ring since white gold is a soft metal. Therefore, the upkeep might be more expensive in the long run.

The History

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 this metal during the 2000s.

Which One Should You Get?

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 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. 

If you really can’t decide between the two, 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 Gold Jewelry

At Clean Origin, you will find a diamond engagement ring in any setting you desire. Our jewelry is available in platinum and white gold, as well as rose gold. We only make fine jewelry with recycled precious metals certified by the Responsible Jewelry Council, so 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

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.

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.

More 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! And it is also available in platinum and white 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 and in an assortment of precious metals, including rose gold. 

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!