Precious metals can appear to be a very attractive investment because they hold their value and are always in demand. Advances in metals and alloys in the last century mean there are now a wide range of silvers and golds that are not necessarily what they seem. White gold can quite easily be mistaken for silver because its manufacturing process takes away the yellow tinge in favor of a silvery finish.
White gold is an alloy made up of pure gold and another metal, usually nickel, manganese or palladium. The other metal used depends on what the item is being used for, as they give the alloy different properties. As a general rule most white gold contains about 90 percent pure gold. A lot of white gold is subsequently plated with rhodium so it is easier to polish. The addition of the white metal and the rhodium takes away the yellowish color of the gold, giving it a much more silvery finish.
The most obvious difference between sterling silver and white gold is the fact they are made from two different precious metals. Sterling silver is the highest grade of silver that can have any practical use and is usually 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper. If the silver was any purer then it would be to soft to use.
As a general rule gold is worth more than silver in the market place. But in this case, it is important to remember that white gold is not pure gold, whereas sterling silver is as close to pure silver as you can get. Because of this the prices are actually quite similar. Variations in price come from the setting of any precious stones and the manufacturer's brand name. White gold is also a more modern substance, the result of advances in metallurgy in the last century. This means there are no antique white gold items, whereas sterling silver catches a much greater price in the collectors market.
Both white gold and sterling silver are commonly used for jewelry, especially rings, but this is where the use of white gold ends. Sterling silver on the other hand is used in a wide range of items such as cutlery and decorative objects such as pill boxes, napkin rings and cigarette cases.
Chris Rowling has been a professional writer since 2003. He has written news and features for publications covering insurance, pensions and financial markets as well as articles for local newspapers such as the "Richmond and Twickenham Times" and the "Hounslow Chronicle." Rowling graduated in 2002 from St. Mary University, London, and took a postgraduate degree in journalism.