What is better for an engagement ring — white gold or silver?

8th September 2022 • by Semrah

There's a lot to consider when choosing the perfect engagement ring, but one of your most significant decisions should be determining which metal is right for you. Silver and white gold may look similar at first glance, but there are many differences between these precious metals in terms of cost, what they’re made of and how they wear over time. Understanding the unique properties of each can help you narrow down your options and simplify your search for the perfect band.

Metal composition

White gold is a popular choice for jewellery due to its beautiful colour and durability. But what is white gold made of? White gold is an alloy or mixture of two metals: gold and nickel. The percentage of gold in the alloy can vary, but it is generally around 75%. The rest of the alloy combines nickel or other metals, such as silver or palladium. These different metals help to give white gold its bright colour and strength. In contrast, the most popular type of silver jewellery is sterling silver, which contains 92.5% pure silver. Since silver can be relatively soft and brittle, it is alloyed with other metals for greater strength and durability.

Cost and investment value

When choosing an engagement ring, couples often find themselves torn between the classic beauty of a sterling silver ring and the contemporary elegance of a white gold ring. While both options have their unique appeal, consider the cost and investment value before making your final decision. White gold may be the better choice regarding investment value as it is less likely to tarnish and dull its shine over time, meaning it will retain its value in the long run. Suppose you prefer the look of sterling silver but want the added durability of white gold. In that case, many affordable options use a white gold plating over a sterling silver base.

Visual appearance

Both metals have a luxurious appearance but also some distinct differences. Due to its versatility and shine, white gold is often used in engagement rings and other pieces that feature diamonds or other precious stones. The metal has a bright, lustrous finish that makes the colour of stones appear more vibrant. On the other hand, sterling silver has a more muted greyish colour that some people may prefer. Over time, sterling silver engagement rings will also naturally oxidise and darken. This is a result of the silver reacting with sulphur in the air, forming a patina on the surface of the metal. While some people view this as a negative, many others see it as a sign of ageing and character. Many jewellery designers actively embrace oxidation to give their pieces an antique look.

Care and maintenance

Can you shower with white gold? Do white gold or silver rings last longer? These are some practical questions that couples in UK may ask when choosing an engagement ring. In general, it’s a good idea to avoid showering with white gold jewellery to minimise tarnishing. When it comes to durability, white gold is stronger than sterling silver. However, taking good care of your engagement ring is essential, no matter which material you choose. Here are a few tips for taking care of your white gold ring engagement ring:
  • Avoid exposing it to harsh chemicals, such as household cleaners or swimming pool chlorine
  • Remove it before doing any activities that could damage the finish, such as gardening, painting, or exercising
  • Clean it regularly with mild soap and warm water. Dry it thoroughly with a soft cloth to prevent water spots from forming
  • If the ring starts to look dull, you can use a jewellery polishing cloth to restore its shine
If you prefer your sterling silver engagement ring to retain its original lustre, there are a few steps you can take to slow down the ageing process:
  • Avoid exposing it to sulphurous substances, such as eggs or garlic
  • Store it in an airtight container when you're not wearing it
  • Regularly clean it with a mild soap and water solution
Taking these simple precautions can help keep your sterling silver or white gold ring looking in pristine condition for years to come.

Other considerations

When shopping for a ring in the UK, it's important to consider your future spouse's allergies. If they're allergic to nickel, you'll want to steer clear of white gold, as it contains a high percentage of this metal. On the other hand, a sterling silver engagement ring is also a good option for those with nickel allergies, as it only contains a minimal amount. However, sterling silver is more prone to tarnishing than white gold, so you'll need to take extra care of it.

Final verdict: Is white gold or silver better for rings?

Deciding between white gold and silver for a ring can be difficult. Silver is a more affordable option, which may be necessary for those with a limited budget. It is also a softer metal, making it more susceptible to scratching and denting. However, silver tends to tarnish and darken over time, which some people may find undesirable. White gold is more expensive than silver but also more durable. It is less likely to scratch or dent, retaining its shine for much longer. At the end of the day, the decision between white gold and silver all comes down to personal preference. Those who want a rustic, antique finish may choose sterling silver, while those who want a metal that will retain its beauty for years to come may prefer white gold.

Shop for white gold engagement rings and silver engagement rings at Austen & Blake today

At Austen & Blake, we understand that an engagement ring is so much more than just a piece of jewellery. It symbolises love and commitment that you can cherish for a lifetime. That’s why we offer a gorgeous selection of white gold engagement rings and silver engagement rings in the UK, each designed to reflect your unique style. Whether you are looking for a classic solitaire or a more modern design with a unique twist, we have the perfect ring to symbolise your love. Schedule a viewing today in London, Manchester, Sheffield or many more locations around the country and find your dream ring to begin your happily ever after.