White Gold VS Yellow Gold Engagement Rings

We are regularly asked about how to select a metal for your fine jewelry; specifically, many customers want to know whether yellow gold or white gold is more suitable for an engagement ring.
This decision is largely based on personal taste and style, however, an understanding of their different properties and appearances will allow you to make an informed decision before finding the engagement ring of your dreams.
White Gold vs Yellow Gold

What is the Difference Between Yellow Gold and White Gold?

Gold is a soft and highly malleable precious metal that is a rich yellow (golden) color. Gold purity is expressed in Karat (not to be confused with Carat, which is diamond weight). Pure gold, known as 24 Karat or 24k gold, is too soft for most jewelry applications, especially for setting diamonds. To overcome this, pure gold is alloyed with other metals to make it harder. Yellow gold is typically mixed with copper, zinc or silver, or combinations thereof.
Mixing the gold with these metals improves the durability and also alters the appearance. For example, 24k gold is a rich yellow color, whereas 10k gold (10/24 pure) will have far less yellow and may be slightly pinkish.
The most popular (and suitable) gold purities for a yellow gold engagement ring are 14k (14/24 pure) and 18k gold (18/24 pure). At these purity levels, the gold still has a rich tone but is also durable enough for everyday wear and diamond setting.
To create white gold, yellow gold is alloyed with metals such as nickel, palladium and zinc. However, even once alloyed, white gold is not perfectly white and has a slight yellowish tint. In order to achieve the bright white finish, the metal is routinely electroplated with rhodium, an expensive platinum group metal.
Because the metals used in gold alloys are generally much less expensive than gold, the higher the purity of the gold, the more expensive the finished product will be.

Pros and Cons of Yellow Gold

  • Rich looking, iconic precious metal, and particularly flattering on certain skin tones
  • Can be used to create a vintage appearance
  • Low maintenance metal that retains its natural color without plating
  • At 14k or 18k, yellow gold is highly durable and suitable for everyday wear
  • Not as popular as it once was which may limit your setting choices
  • Can impart some yellow color to diamonds
  • It will scratch over time and may need re-polishing
  • Unlike the versatility of white gold, not all colored gemstones and diamonds will suit a yellow gold setting

Pros and Cons of White Gold

  • The rhodium layer gives extra luster and some protection against scratching
  • White gold is extremely popular so choices abound when it comes to choosing an engagement ring
  • White gold is harder than yellow gold due to the metals used in its composition
  • Easily matched with a wonderful variety of diamonds and colored gemstones
  • White gold may cause allergic reactions in some wearers (due to the inclusion of nickel in the metal composition)
  • Over time, the rhodium plating will eventually wear away – you will notice the metal takes on a subtle, yellow hue. Re-plating is then required to restore the original lustre.
  • The cost of maintenance is slightly higher than yellow gold due to the re-plating step.

Which is Better, Yellow Gold or White Gold?

If you’ve weighed the pros and cons of white and yellow gold but still find yourself torn, there are a few more factors to think about:
Skin tone: The warmth of yellow gold can be particularly striking against darker skin tones. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it is something to consider.
Lifestyle: White gold is better suited to an active/hands-on lifestyle as it is slightly harder that yellow gold.
Maintenance: If you aren’t keen on the idea of annual trips to the jeweler, yellow gold might be a better choice for a low maintenance engagement ring. Remember that over the years all engagement rings are likely to require some small level of maintenance (polishing out faint scratches, for example).
Diamond Color: For diamonds with color grade of I or below, setting it in yellow gold will make it look a bit whiter by contrast.
Style: You may find that certain styles naturally lend themselves to a particular metal color. Vintage or baroque style engagement rings look stunning in yellow gold. Clean, contemporary designs are perfectly partnered with bright, white gold.
There is also the choice of platinum for your beautiful engagement ring which you can read about its benefits and differences from gold alloys here.
Perhaps all it will take to make up your mind is finding an engagement ring that takes your breath away. We are so proud of our designers and their stunning collections; their craftsmanship shines through in both yellow and white gold styles.
Verragio INS-7074R Braided 3 Stone Engagement Ring
Verragio INS-7074R Braided 3 Stone Engagement Ring
The delicate scrolling features and vintage romance of this Verragio engagement ring are beautifully enhanced when set in yellow gold.
Simon G. LP1935-D Delicate Diamond Engagement Ring
Simon G. LP1935-D Delicate Diamond Engagement Ring
Delicate diamond melee and a striking princess cut central diamond are brought to life with the sheen of white gold.
Danhov CL140 Classico Solitaire Engagement Ring
Danhov CL140 Classico Solitaire Engagement Ring
A distinctive and artistic design by Danhov that’s given a vintage touch when set in yellow gold.
A. Jaffe MES837Q Solitaire Engagement Ring
A. Jaffe MES837Q Solitaire Engagement Ring
This classic A. Jaffe solitaire is perfect in white gold for an elegant, timeless look.
We also have more information relating to how fine jewelry is manufactured to give you a more in depth look at precious metals and the techniques used to craft your beautiful engagement ring.
Many of our designs can be crafted from both white and yellow gold, giving you ultimate control when it comes to finding your perfect ring. Browse our full collection of engagement rings.

Be Inspired By Our Designer Engagement Rings

Find the perfect Designer Ring for your special diamond by clicking the links below, and let us build the ultimate ring for the love of your life!