White gold is not white. It is usually a weak yellow or heavily greyed that becomes ‘white’ or silver when plated with rhodium.
If you see it without the white finishing, your eyes will probably not pick out that piece in the window. In fact, you may not believe it is actually gold.
Platinum, on the other hand, is grey and polishes to a high shine.
This means that over time, you will need to re-plate your white gold pieces, while platinum pieces can just be polished.
How It Feels
Platinum is less malleable than white gold. This means that a platinum setting holds gemstones more securely than a white gold setting, since it is harder to bend. This is one of the reasons why a platinum piece feels more solid that a white gold piece.
In our experience with antique jewellery, there is a lot of evidence that platinum jewellery holds up better over time.
Why is platinum more expensive than white gold?
If you compare the prices of pure platinum and gold, they are almost similar. Sometimes, platinum is even cheaper than gold. So how do you explain why platinum jewellery is more expensive than gold pieces?
Firstly, platinum is denser than gold, which means that a platinum piece is heavier than a similar gold piece.
Secondly, the processing cost of platinum is higher. While you can generally remelt gold scraps from working on a piece, scraps of platinum mostly cannot be reused and will have to be refined. In fact, some bench jewellers will not work with platinum because it will contaminate their gold-only workbench.
Thirdly, it really is harder to work on a platinum piece. The melting point of platinum is higher, so you will need to work with a hotter flame.
Fourthly, you can’t sell off platinum like you can sell gold, so if your jeweller buys extra platinum to work on your piece, s/he can’t sell it off, well, not as conveniently.
Why not silver?
Here we put the two to compare because they are the only precious metals to hold quality gemstones. Jewellers are less inclined to set a $1000 per carat gemstone on silver because it is hard to convince the market to pay for fine or rare gemstones in a sterling silver setting.
Once a fiery or vivid gemstone is set on solid gold, everything ‘feels’ different. This could be because the warmth of the yellow gold or shine of white gold casts a glow to the colour of gemstones. Sort of like enhancing it, except legit. The final piece of jewelry just looks better when set on gold or platinum. Metaphysical reasons outweigh physical ones here.
The Luxe Look of Tradition
Outside of specific interests, loose gemstones are stones until they are ‘housed’ and then ‘decorated’ properly.
Which brings us to decoration. Again subjectively speaking, in the aesthetic and nature of ‘white’, platinum comes closer to being well-decorated, naturally. While contemporary jewellery techniques may sometimes plate rhodium over platinum, it is not necessary and the ‘raw’ look of processed platinum is luxurious enough for most designers.
This is verified by antique platinum jewellery we inherit. Other than to polish away scratches, many platinum pieces need no further glossing up before they are put up for sale. Being softer, gold prongs or gold ring bands tend to need reworking to be shelf ready.
In short, to continue the tradition we find in the platinum jewellery we inherit from history, we choose to work in platinum over white gold. We learn whatever we can from history and hopefully bring it onward to a meaningful tomorrow.
*Photos of platinum pieces to come*
The Luxe Look of Everyday, Since the Gatsby Era
But let’s not forget the flirty pieces of the Art Deco era. White gold was used popularly by the 1920s, especially for luxury jewellery that needed extensive metalworking. If platinum was used for such pieces, it would be expensive and fearfully weighty, especially around the neck or for chandelier earrings with already heavy stones. With machine work aiding hand-finished pieces, Art Deco jewellery showcases the finest make of white gold jewellery.
We will continue the tradition we find in these white gold jewellery, while balancing tactility (weight and feel) and beauty considerations. From the point of metalworking, large, intricate pieces would certainly benefit from using white gold.