Whether you’ve already purchased a piece of jewelry or you’re in the process of purchasing an item, you may be wondering how you can tell white gold from silver. We will give you a few things to look for to tell the difference between white gold jewelry from silver jewelry.
How to Tell White Gold From Silver?
You can tell white gold from silver by examining the markings on a piece of jewelry. If the markings refer to “Karats or K” then you know its made of white gold because “K” or “Karat” always refers to the amount of pure gold that’s in white gold, however, if you see numbers such as 925 or 999, you will be able to tell that the piece of jewelry in front of you is silver.
That said, to the untrained eye, both look very similar. Many choose silver over white gold because it’s significantly cheaper than white gold.
For example, if you see a piece of jewelry that states that its 18k and has a white finish, it’s most likely white gold that has 18 karats of gold or 75% gold. On the other hand, if you find a piece of jewelry and it’s marked with .925 or .999 it’s most likely silver, made up of 92.5% silver or 99.9% silver.
.925 also known as sterling silver is usually made from 92.5% silver, with the remaining 7.5% usually consisting of copper to strengthen the silver. you can tell sterling silver by looking at the stamp. Sterling silver stamp usually reads “.925” or 925STG.
“.999” silver is made from 99.9% silver, with the remaining insignificant 0.1% being traces of other elements. This is the purest form of silver that you can find, but just note that jewelry made from 99.9% silver tends to bend because pure silver alone is not very strong and tends to bend easily.
Appearance of White Gold vs Silver
So, let’s assume that the jewelry is not marked, you can tell the difference from the mirror-like shine that white gold has due to the rhodium coating that’s added to all white gold jewelry, silver is less shiny than white gold and the shine fades away fairly quickly. White gold retains its shine and mirror-like finish longer than silver.
Also, white gold retains that mirror-like shine much longer than silver. Silver tends to tarnish quickly and lose its shine much quicker than white gold. White gold can lose some of its shine as it undergoes wear and tear, but when it wears out, you tend to see the yellow gold that’s underneath the rhodium plating.
Silver is different in that it tarnishes as it’s exposed to air and moisture, creating a rust-like layer on its surface. This is one of the easiest ways to distinguish silver from white gold as this does not happen to white gold.
So, if you’re thinking about purchasing a piece of silver jewelry, it might look as nice as white gold when you first purchase it, but you should know that it can easily tarnish and look, quite frankly, ugly in a very short period of time.
If you have a choice between buying a white gold ring and a silver ring, we recommend going with white gold because it’s more durable and will retain it mirror-like shine much longer.
Price of White Gold vs Silver
White gold is always more expensive than silver. White gold is more expensive because it contains pure, yellow gold. The amount of gold that’s contained in white gold depends on the karat of white gold a person buys. For example, if you buy a 14k white gold ring, then your ring contains 58.3% pure, yellow gold. You don’t see the yellow gold because white gold is plated with rhodium to cover the yellow gold that’s underneath.
Silver jewelry tends to be less expensive than gold because it’s much more abundant than gold. Also, silver jewelry tends to tarnish fairly quickly, making white gold a much better choice for people who wants a piece of jewelry that lasts long without having to constantly maintain it.
Softness of White Gold vs Silver
Silver tends to be softer than white gold, making white gold much stronger than silver and a better candidate to hold precious stones, such as gemstones, diamonds, and rubies. Valuable stones are typically added to white gold more than silver because white gold is more valuable than silver, so it doesn’t make sense to put a stone that’s as expensive as a diamond in a silver setting, white gold is more suitable.
Also, expensive stones and gems are added to white gold more often than silver because white gold is stronger and can, therefore, ensure that they remain in place. Silver tends to loosen after time and lose its shape, making it a bad choice for valuable stones. That said, you will sometimes find silver jewelry paired with less expensive stones and gems.
What is the Stamp For White Gold?
White gold is usually stamped with 10k, 14k, or 18k.
- 10k white gold contains 41.67% pure yellow gold. Usually 10k white gold is the lowest karat white gold you’ll find.
- 14k white gold contains 58.33% pure yellow gold. 14k white gold is very popular and contains a great ratio of white gold and other white metals.
- 18k white gold contains 75% of pure yellow gold, with the remaining 25% being white metals, such as silver, copper, zinc, or palladium.
Note: All white gold jewelry is coated with rhodium to give it, it’s white mirror-like finish. Also, the more gold content, the softer the gold alloy will be. The opposite is the same, the less gold that’s added, the harder and stronger the jewelry. So, finding a balance between gold content and strength will give you the most durable piece of jewelry.
What is the Stamp For Silver?
Silver is usually stamped with .925 or 925 and .999 or 999. What do these markings mean?
- 925 or .925 Silver is a marking that’s added to silver jewelry or accessories that contain 92.5% silver and 7.5% of other metals such as copper. Mixing silver with other metals such as copper strengthens it and makes it more durable.
- 999 or .999 Silver is a marking that’s added to silver jewelry or accessories that contain 99.9% pure silver. This is the highest purity silver jewelry that you can buy. However, because 999 silver is mostly made out of silver, it tends to be very soft.
What is Silver Made From?
Most silver jewelry and accessories that are found today are made from sterling silver, which is silver that’s combined with other metals, such as copper. Sterling silver is usually made from 92.5% silver (.925 silver) and combined with 7.5% of other metals such as copper.
Said differently, most silver jewelry on the market is usually a silver alloy, meaning that silver is mixed with other metals. An alloy basically means that two elements of the periodic table are mixed together to form a combination of elements.
So, why is silver often mixed with copper?
Adding copper to silver strengthens the silver because silver alone is very soft, making it prone to bending, deformation, and scratching. When copper is added to silver, silver becomes stronger, making it less likely to scratch easily and change its shape.
What is White Gold Made From?
White gold is made from pure, traditional yellow gold that’s mixed with other metals, such as silver, nickel, zinc, or palladium. You can tell how much pure gold is in white gold by looking at the karats of a piece of jewelry.
The higher the karat number, the more pure gold that’s in white gold. For example, 14k white gold is very similar to 14k regular gold in that both contain 58.33% pure gold, the remaining 41.77% is composed of other metals that add to the whiteness of white gold and strengthen it to prevent it from bending, warping, and scratching easily.
White gold gets its white color not only from being mixed with other white metals, such as nickel, silver, and palladium but from the rhodium coating that’s added to all white gold to give it that white mirror-like finish that we have all come to love.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does White Gold Have 925 Stamped On It?
If you have a piece of jewelry that has 925 or .925 stamped on it, it’s probably not gold because the 925 mark is used to refer to sterling silver. Also, 925 indicates that the jewelry you have is 92.5% silver, meaning the silver is mixed with 7.5% of other metals, such as copper. So, to answer your questions, no, white gold does not have 925 or .925 stamped on it and the piece of jewelry that you have is probably silver.
Does White Gold Stick to a Magnet?
No, white gold should not stick to a magnet because white gold is usually made from pure, yellow gold that’s mixed with other metals, such as silver, which is also not magnetic. So, if you have white gold jewelry that sticks to a magnet, it’s either not made of gold or it has some iron in it, which is pretty unusual and means that you may have been scammed.
Which is Better White Gold or Silver?
White gold is almost better in every way because it’s more valuable since all white gold has some pure, yellow gold that’s underneath its rhodium plating. White gold maintains its appearance much better than silver, which tends to tarnish with time as it oxidizes when exposed to air and moisture.