Silver is a precious metal that’s been used as a currency for centuries. Today, the value of silver is low, but it’s more important than ever.
As we delve deeper into the economic consequences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, silver is likely to become far more valuable. While silver prices aren’t as predictable as gold prices, silver still acts as a safe haven asset. People simply flock to precious metals when bad economic news is broken.
If you want to invest in precious metals, gold is the first thing that will likely come to mind. But if you’re looking for more alternatives to gold, you’ll come across silver and white gold. These options are also cheaper than investing in pure gold.
The “safe haven asset” status of precious metals is debatable, but there are certainly benefits to all of them. So, let’s go over the value of silver and white gold, which one is more valuable, and the key differences between the two.
White Gold Vs. Sterling Silver: Know the Facts About Each
White gold is an alloy of pure yellow gold and alloy metals. The alloy metals create a silvery shine while making the combination of the two stronger and more rigid.
Why Mix Gold?
Gold is very valuable on its own. But it’s also a relatively weak metal on its own. It’s a soft metal that can easily bend. That’s not a serious problem if all you need is bars of gold to keep as a hedge against inflation or economic uncertainty. But when it comes to jewelry, normal gold’s weakness can cause the value of the jewelry to decline.
To remedy the softness of gold, gold is often alloyed with rhodium and other metal alloys. Rhodium is a relative of platinum and adds a strong durability to gold when they are mixed. The result of the mix is a much sturdier metal and a lustrous, silvery appearance. As the rhodium starts to wear off, you’ll begin to notice the yellow color of the gold underneath.
Unlike white gold, silver (Ag) is a single, standalone metal on the periodic table. It can be found in its natural form as a byproduct of other metals in deposits around the world. Your typical silver bar is almost entirely pure silver, while silver coins are usually 90% silver and 10% copper. For these reasons, silver items are easier to understand and appraise than white gold.
Unlike normal, pure gold (Au), silver has several industrial uses. But it’s also a precious metal that serves as a safe haven asset to many investors.
How to tell the difference between White gold and Silver
White gold and silver have a similar grey appearance. White gold is often mistaken for silver, and vice-versa. But there are some subtle and not-so-subtle differences between the two that you can use to tell them apart.
Hallmarks & Other Markings
Hallmarks are the simplest signs that indicate what a metal is composed of. Sometimes a metal’s abbreviation is marked on the metal. For example, platinum may be marked as:
But there are other markings that will reveal what the metal is. In the case of white gold versus silver, look for a K mark, which will usually appear beside a number. K stands for karat, a measure out of 24 which is used to measure a gold item’s purity. If an item appears silver but has the karat mark, it’s white gold.
What About Silver?
Silver isn’t measured in karat. Silver will be marked with a number. For example, if the marking is “925”, the item is 92.5% silver. This is a typical level of purity for silver jewelry. But you may encounter other measurements like 999, which is 99.9% silver, and so forth.
Silver tarnishes over time. If you see a white/grey tarnish on the surface of the questionable item, it is silver. Silver tarnishes must be polished to retain their normal appearance. Gold and the alloys used to create white gold don’t suffer from this issue.
Should you buy? White Gold or Sterling Silver
White gold and sterling silver are both valuable due to the precious metals they are partially composed of. But as an investment, you likely won’t want to invest in either.
Sterling silver is generally useless for anything but its silver content. But if a piece of sterling silver flatware contains a hallmark indicating that it has a very high silver content, it can be sold for a decent sum of money. The problem is that the people who buy sterling silver are typically interested in melting the silver down quickly. They will usually offer you 60% to 80% of the silver’s spot price.
If you want to invest in precious metals, gold and silver bullion are the safest and most valuable investments.
If you have high-quality white gold or sterling silver that you want to part with, you should wait until the prices of gold or silver rise. In the meantime, you can always invest in even more tangible silver and gold items.
Standardized (and non-collectible) gold and silver bars and coins are the best way to start investing in precious metals. Online bullion retailers make purchasing these items fast, safe, and easy. Also, if you use the website of a company like Money Metals Exchange, you can also sell your unwanted white gold and sterling silver to professionals for fair prices.
If you’re scavenging for precious metals inside your home, you’ll need to know the difference between white gold and silver. The two items look very similar but are worth vastly different amounts. By learning about white gold and silver, you can better assess the value of your sterling silverware or white gold jewelry.