White Gold vs Yellow Gold: Which is Worth the Money?

White Gold vs Yellow Gold: Which is Worth the Money?

White gold vs yellow gold?

You are in a quandary. You are about to shop for an engagement ring, and a gold ring is your first (and only) choice. It represents status and is an apt expression of your deep love for the person you are to be engaged with.

But which gold ring?

White Gold vs Yellow Gold: Which is Worth the Money?

There are around seven gold types used in engagement rings. White gold and yellow gold are the most popular. While that whittles your choices down to two, still you are at your wit’s end which of the two to buy. It’s the “devil and the deep blue sea” kind of thing. And the only way out is to know more about the two.

And this article is going to do that—help you out so you won’t be flying blind in your buying decision.

What is White Gold and Yellow Gold

Both white gold and yellow gold are offsprings of pure 24K gold. But since pure gold is too soft for jewelry use, it is alloyed with different metals, giving both their distinctive looks.

Gold alloying chart
Gold alloying chart

White Gold

This is pure gold alloyed with nickel, zinc, silver, and/or palladium to give it a grayish look. Then it is coated with rhodium, a precious metal belonging to the platinum family, to give it additional strength, durability, and an illustrious look.

White gold is an ideal metal for rings.

Before the 19th century, platinum was the metal of choice for engagement rings like the one in this Diamond Nexus review, and wedding rings. But it has one major drawback—it is very rare. It is 30 times rarer than gold. And whatever supply was at hand, was immediately snapped up by the military. This situation forced jewelers to look for alternatives. This gave birth to white gold. Since its creation, it has become a popular jewelry metal until the present.

White gold was first made in the 19th century. Its white natural color accentuates the beauty of diamonds and other colored gemstones. It is hypoallergenic, thus perfect for those with sensitive skin.

Since then, it has virtually taken over platinum as the metal of choice in jewelry-making. This popularity spawned a lot of imitations and fakes. To make sure you get the real deal, only settle for 18K (75% gold), or 14K (58.3% gold).

And keep in mind that its rhodium coating wears over time, hence needs to be re-coated regularly.

Now that you know a bit about white gold, you may ask, “which is more expensive, gold or white gold, or is white gold worth the same as gold?” There is no straightforward answer to this. Price is determined by the gold content of a jewelry item. As long as the gold content is the same, there is no price difference between the two.

Yellow Gold

Yellow gold is embedded in history and tradition. It has been used since the time of the Pharaohs and is still a necessary part of every woman’s jewelry collection such as the piece in this Jewelry Affairs review.

Yellow gold bracelets
Yellow gold bracelets

This jewelry metal is made from 24 karat gold alloyed with copper and silver. To give it a rich yellow color, zinc is often thrown into the mixture. Though it’s been around for quite some time, it reached its popularity in the 1990s then went into the slump. But it is making a comeback now that the millennials have become a market to reckon with.

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

Now that you know what they are, composition-wise, you may wonder, is white gold more valuable than yellow gold?

That question is rhetorical at best. Any answer would lead to more questions and so on. It is best to know their differences so you can arrive at your own conclusion.

What is certain is that they both look different and they appear differently on your skin. Each is suited for certain kinds of stones, and they vary in durability as well.

So here goes…

Alloying elements

Gold has a natural yellow tint, hence yellow gold doesn’t need more alloying elements to alter its color. It does need a few, copper and silver (or zinc) to increase its strength and durability.

On the other hand, white gold has more alloying elements, like manganese, palladium, and nickel to make it look greyish white to white. Its alloying elements may not be an issue to most except for those with sensitive skins. Nickel is allergenic.


This is the most obvious difference between the two and has the most impact on their appeal. It may also provide an appropriate answer to the question, “Should I wear white gold or yellow gold?”

The word ‘gold’ creates in people’s minds the color yellow. Yellow gold is synonymous with gold. White gold, on the other hand, is more silver than gold.

On wearability, yellow gold looks great on everyone and almost every style and color of stone that comes along with it. It’s warm, inviting, and classic.

White gold, while may also be classic, has a cooler tone that stands out against all skin colors. Engagement rings of white gold may only look appealing with stones of cooler colors like colorless diamonds, emeralds, and blue sapphire or stones that are used on engagement rings.

Durability and Maintenance

White gold vs yellow gold maintenance and durability vary.

Because it has more gold content, yellow gold is more prone to scratches and dents. It is not an appropriate choice if you constantly use your hands in a way that may damage the ring. It requires regular maintenance like rebuffing or repolishing to restore its original luster. Since it is softer, it is easy to resize—should your finger outgrow its original diameter.

White gold, on the other hand, is a bit more durable than yellow gold because of its alloying metals, specifically nickel, which is tough. Though it may be more durable and resistant to dents and scratches, its rhodium coating will wear out over time. Hence, it needs to be re-coated regularly by a qualified jeweler, say every two years.


White gold vs yellow gold price is about the same – assuming all things are equal. Assuming craftsmanship and design, and setting are the same, the price of white gold vs yellow gold engagement ring or white gold vs yellow gold necklace would be about the same.

When it comes to gold jewelry, the composition determines the price, not the color. For example, an 18k engagement ring, white gold or yellow, contains 75% gold and 25% alloys. But here’s the rub. While you may gloss over the money you paid for an expensive 18k ring, it is also more prone to scratches and dents due to its high gold content.

You are at the point of making a purchase decision but you are still in a bind of what to go for white gold vs yellow gold? Well, here’s a bird’s eye view of both. At a glance, you may be able to come to a firm decision with the pros and cons of white gold and yellow gold.

White Gold


  • It has a beautiful silver-white sheen that fits well with all other metal jewelry
  • White gold is an affordable alternative to platinum
  • White gold is a good match with cool-tone stones like colorless diamonds, emeralds, and blue sapphires


  • It needs rhodium replating every few years, and regular polishing.
  • White gold contains nickel, which may cause allergy to sensitive skins.

Yellow Gold


  • 18k yellow gold is the purest formula for gold. But it cannot stand the rigors of daily wear.
  • Yellow gold looks great on any skin tone.
  • It matches well with diamonds and warm-tone gemstones like rubies, morganites, and purple sapphire.


  • It is very expensive, yet not so durable
  • It is more prone to scratches and dents and needs more polishing.

White Gold vs Yellow Gold vs Rose Gold

They are the top favorites among the seven shades of gold jewelry (the other four are green gold (Electrum), black gold, bleu gold, and purple gold.

White, yellow, rose gold rings
White, yellow, rose gold rings

Rose gold is extensively covered in a previous article, and it would be redundant to write about while white gold and yellow gold since they occupy the center stage of this article. But the entry of rose gold adds another confusing element to your gold jewelry buying decision.

To unclutter your mind, remember these simple tips before you buy.

  • Think of what you really want (if buying for someone else), what appeals to the emotions—classic, contemporary, vintage, or avant-garde.
  • Carefully consider your choice of gemstone, specifically the diamond cut, the number of carats, and its impact on his or her finger, should it be an engagement ring.
  • If it is a ring, know the size of the band, and the style you think will make the most impact.

Now let’s dig into the reasons why buying any of the three is a win-win endeavor.

Why buy white gold

The best white gold engagement rings are sleek and attractive to the eyes. They exude a lustrous appeal and have risen to prominence in the past few decades as the most popular gold jewelry.

White gold’s main selling point is that it can be mistaken for platinum—the most precious and coveted of all precious metals—but at a fraction of the cost.

The downside is that it needs more maintenance than yellow or rose gold.

Why buy yellow gold

When people think of gold, what immediately comes to mind is yellow gold, and for a good reason. Yellow gold is timeless and possesses a charm of its own.

If set with diamonds, yellow gold makes the gems sparkle more. Yellow gold looks unmistakably luxurious and classic if used as an engagement or a wedding ring. Its versatility and beauty fit well in both modern and vintage jewelry styles.

Why buy rose gold

If you are looking for gold jewelry that falls in between white and yellow, then go for rose gold. It is charming, evocative, and possesses a dreamy vintage glamour.

Though rose gold was created during the period of Tsarist Russia, it has become fashionable again due to millennial consumers who are always on the lookout for jewelry types that fit their lifestyles.

Rose gold has the essence of romance in a vintage and charming way. In fact, a lot of rose gold rings are fashioned into vintage-inspired designs and set with throwback diamond cuts.

If you are looking for a jewelry piece for the long haul, rose gold is fit for you. Of the three gold shades, rose gold is the most scratch-resistant due to its copper content. It is durable and tough. It can take a beating but keeps on shining.

At the outset, it was a simple choice—white gold vs yellow gold. Both can hold their own in beauty and price. Each is worth your money. Then a monkey wrench is thrown in—rose gold. Now you feel like having to pick the right path in a three-pronged road.

Which route to take? Which is worth your money?.

The answer depends on these three things:


Any person’s jewelry choice is a matter of personal preference. If you are fond of gold jewelry, then yellow gold will be a good choice to match the rest of your jewelry collection. But if you want variety for a change, other shades of gold may provide the kind of variety you seek.

Do remember, however, that some colored stones look better on either white or yellow gold.


Men's lifestyle jewelry in rose gold
Men’s lifestyle jewelry in rose gold

If you are hyperactive, shy away from 18k yellow gold as it is prone to dents and scratching. Similarly, if you have sensitive skin, the nickel in white gold can give you allergies. Between the two extremes, rose gold may be suitable.


There is no significant price difference between the three if the gold content is the same. Do comparison shopping before you buy. Remember, though, that jewelry items made of any of the three are timeless options for either an engagement or a wedding ring.

And here’s one that will not bust your bank account.  Most engagement rings are in the 10k to 14k range. That should bring the item to a more affordable level.

White gold vs yellow gold? It’s a tie. They are both worth your money. Both are the current favorite metals for engagement and wedding rings. While they may look different and have their own kind of class, attractiveness, and durability, they symbolize one thing—eternity and completion. Whether made of white gold or yellow gold, an engagement ring represents a commitment to a lifelong promise of caring, laughter, and love for someone very close to your heart.

Under such a premise, should you be thinking of how much it costs?

Now that you know the difference between white gold and yellow gold, you may want to learn about how silver fares against white gold. You can check out our article, “White Gold vs. Silver: What You Need to Know.”