Everyone knows the obvious discrepancies between Silver, Gold and the elusive Platinum, but there are many hidden facts that separate these precious metals. Here we will break down the differences between Silver and Gold, and then Gold and Platinum (we wouldn’t want to insult Platinum by even comparing it to Silver).
Gold vs. Silver
known on the Period Table of Elements as “Au”, with the Atomic Number 79.
Historically, the most popular in all forms of jewelry, especially in both men’s and women’s wedding rings. A huge plus is that it does not tarnish when exposed to the elements. Unlike chicken at McDonald’s, gold naturally occurs in nugget form. Gold has been used in coinage, jewelry and arts before recorded time. The term “the gold standard” refers to the monetary policy that was used all the way until the 1930’s.
Gold is classified in “Karats”, ranging from 9 to 24. All that these numbers actually connote is the amount of pure gold in the jewelry or item being described. For instance, a ring that is 24K is, in essence, pure gold. One that is 9K is mostly comprised of other metals, like silver or copper, and technically can not be categorized as “gold jewelry” (must be 10K or higher, by U.S. standards).
Gold can appear in numerous different forms, or colors. What determines the different shades are the other metals mixed in, and the percentage of each. One of the most popular is “White Gold.” The recipe for this is 14K gold (about 58% pure) combined with copper, zinc and nickel. Another colored gold found in a lot of jewelry is “Rose Gold.” This hue is produced when copper is added in. The more copper, the darker red the gold becomes, producing “Pink” and ultimately “Red” gold. Far less common are “Green” (mixed with silver), “Blue” (combined with indium), “Purple” (joined with aluminum) and “Black” (mingled with cobalt).
Throughout U.S. history especially, gold has made numerous headlines. One of the most notable ones occurred during the Great Depression, when in 1933 President Roosevelt approved an executive order that required all citizens to relinquish any gold in their possession. Astoundingly, it would stay illegal to hold gold all the way until 1974, when the law was revoked.
Element “Ag”, Atomic Number 47.
With its ethereal glow, Silver has long been used in jewelry creation as well, along with silverware (obviously). Its most practical use pertains to its degree of electrical and thermal conductivity (the highest of any known element), as scientists have found a plethora of things to do with silver in this realm. Silver is primarily mined as a byproduct of gold, which seems a little sad.
The term “Sterling Silver” applies to any metal that is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. This is the standard for most silver jewelry. To be sold as “silver” in the U.S., the object must be a minimum of 90% silver. A premium silver grade is “Britannia Silver”, at 95.8% purity. A common practice to make silver jewelry flashier, is the term (ironically enough) called “flashing,” where a thin layer of .999 silver is applied. This super silver plating creates quite the bling effect.
Crafting true “silverware” is a dying art form, as there is little demand for actual silver forks these days.
MAIN DISCREPANCIES BETWEEN SILVER AND GOLD:
- Central Banks don’t hold silver — believe it or not, large banks actually still hold gold bars in their vaults. This may seem slightly archaic, but with the escalating price of gold as of late, upholding this practice is a smart maneuver indeed. In fact, Central Banks own 20% of all the gold on the globe. Sorry, silver, you just don’t make the cut.
- The Silver Market is much smaller than the Gold Market, only equaling 12% of the amount of gold sold annually. The price of silver is very mercurial; it also coincides with gold rising and falling, in a dramatic fashion.
- Gold is recycled in larger amounts than silver: 40% annually, 25% for silver.
- Gold is way more valuable; silver barely qualifies as a precious metal, as it is closer in price to the base metals (Gold is valued at roughly 60% more than silver). However, mined silver will eventually go extinct, making it the first element on the periodic table to do so. Again, sad.
- One venue where silver is more popular than gold is in coins. There are still coins in circulation today (from 1965) that contain 90% silver. There are a tiny amount of gold coins around, from the turn of the 20th century, but these are not in circulation, just in the possession of really, really cool coin collectors.
- Due to its electrical and thermal properties, 50% of silver serves industrial demands. Comparatively, only 10% of gold is used for this.
- There are very few pure silver mines, as opposed to the ubiquitous gold mines.
Overall: Gold wins, hands down.
Gold vs. Platinum
Element “Pt” – Atomic Number 78.
Platinum has long been considered the Rolls Royce of precious metals. The derivation of its nomenclature is Spanish in origin, from the word “platina”, which directly translates to “little silver” – which is ironic since platinum dwarfs silver, and even gold, in price, strength and desirability. A very scare element, with eighty percent of the world’s annual production originating in South Africa, platinum is quite sought after.
Platinum is a much heavier metal than gold (by 60%), thus it is harder and more durable. This makes platinum ideal for holding and keeping a stone in its setting. While both gold and platinum do not tarnish (ergo, if you’re necklace is turning green, then your boyfriend doesn’t love you), platinum will remain shinier over longer periods of time.
In recent years, platinum has seen a substantial rise in popularity in engagement rings, thereby costing potential suitors even more money.
MAIN DISCREPANCIES BETWEEN GOLD AND PLATINUM:
- As far as colors go, gold has a larger range, generally from a softer white to a bold yellow (and the aforementioned distinctive variations). Platinum’s hue is solely that of a bright silver. Currently, the more desired style has been that of this lighter, silvery tone.
- Platinum is more scarce than gold, hence it costs more, by upwards of 20%.
- One of the greatest differences between gold and platinum is their degree of malleability. Platinum is a very hard, staunch metal. Gold on the other hand, comes in a variety of densities. The highest quality gold, 24 karat, is the softest, and most malleable. Most ring makers prefer 18k gold, as it’s just soft enough to be shaped but still holds a stone without bending. Platinum is so strong that it makes it very difficult to size.
- White gold can appear almost identical to platinum, and the two are often confused.
- On the complete other end of the spectrum from silver, platinum is known as the least reactive of all metals (with gold in the middle).
Overall: Gold wins, again. While platinum is a little more valuable, gold is much more versatile and widespread.
The escalating price of gold is good news to anyone selling their diamond rings. At Diamond Lighthouse, we will not only get you the best price for your diamond, we will also find a buyer for your gold, silver or platinum band, at the most accurate and current market prices. (Learn More) As a further added bonus, if the combination of your stone and band is very unique, we may be able to find a buyer who will purchase the whole piece for an even higher price than the diamond and metal alone are worth. This coincides with the fact that vintage rings have recently seen a rise in popularity. Finally, if you want your band returned to you, we can easily do that as well. Perhaps you are ready for a new diamond or completely different stone to occupy your favorite gold ring? Let Diamond Lighthouse help you every step along your way. Get started here.