A lot of rings are sold with white prongs regardless of the metal used to make the rest of the ring’s body. Very often, the material that these prongs are made of is either white gold or platinum. But is one better than the other, and how should you choose between these two metals when it comes to ring prongs?
Why Are White Gold Prongs So Widely Used?
White gold is a popular material for making prongs, even when the rest of the ring is made of yellow gold, but why is it so?
There are two main reasons jewelers use white gold prongs:
1. White gold is not yellow.
This might seem obvious, but it deserves some further explanation.
Let’s say you have a diamond and want it set in a yellow gold ring.
If the stone is colorless or nearly colorless, yellow gold prongs would make it look tinted in yellow, whereas white gold ones would blend nicely with its color.
However, yellow tinting is not such a big deal with low-grade diamond colors, which look yellowish anyway.
2. White gold is more durable.
This reason is even more important than the first one.
Since metals such as yellow gold or silver are very soft, prongs made of them wear thin faster and break more easily.
White gold, however, is more durable. It is made of yellow gold mixed with other metals to make it harder, and it is plated with rhodium, which gives it additional luster and protection.
How Is Platinum Different from White Gold?
Platinum is an extremely durable metal, and it wears down a lot more slowly than white gold.
Even though white gold is harder than yellow gold, white gold is still a gold alloy, whereas the platinum used in jewelry is much purer (it has 95% to 99% platinum content).
Platinum’s purity is important not only because of durability. If the rhodium plating of white gold wears off and exposes the gold alloy underneath, and if that layer contains nickel, it can cause skin irritation in people allergic to this metal. With platinum, you don’t have such problems.
And while we are at the topic of rhodium plating, it is good to reiterate that this outer coating does wear off with time. Depending on how often you wear your jewelry, sooner or later you might need to have the white gold parts of your items replated.
White Gold vs. Platinum for Ring Prongs
White gold and platinum are both durable materials.
It should be noted, though, that when a white gold setting is exposed to chemicals such as chlorine, which can be found in tap water and some detergents, the prongs can get damaged and become more likely to break.
Although platinum prongs are nearly impossible to break, they can still bend and make the stones in your settings loose.
Sometimes, platinum prongs may be easier to bend than white gold ones, and this propensity depends on the technology used to form prongs out of platinum.
A point that is not often mentioned is the way white gold and platinum change in appearance when they wear. You should keep in mind that platinum does not stay shiny forever, and although it is durable, it does scratch, becoming duller with time.
White gold, on the other hand, keeps its luster over time as long as its rhodium plating is not worn off; when that happens, you will need to have it replated.
The Bottom Line: Choosing Between White Gold and Platinum
So, how should you decide between white gold and platinum prongs? One factor we have not mentioned yet is price: Platinum is simply more expensive than white gold.
For the additional money you pay for platinum, you get greater durability; you won’t need to worry about broken prongs, but you will still need to check regularly whether some of them are bent.
White gold is cheaper and is, in general, pretty durable as long as you keep it away from chlorine and remove your ring when washing or doing any housework.
Be sure also to consider that platinum won’t look as shiny as white gold after some time and decide for yourself whether that difference is really important to you.