Silver, platinum, and white gold are considered “white” metals when used for jewelry, although they are all silver in appearance. The three metals may look similar, but they are very different in content. Sterling silver is the least expensive of the three metals and is comprised of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals. It is the softest of the three metals and tarnishes over time, but with frequent and proper cleaning, it serves as an alternative to platinum and white gold because of its lower price.
White gold is a harder metal than silver and is often used for settings of precious stones. White gold is more durable than silver, it does not tarnish, and it holds its shine very well. Like yellow gold, white gold holds up fairly well over time under normal wear. However, it is considerably more expensive than sterling silver and is typically reserved for more elegant jewelry such as engagement and wedding rings.
Platinum is the “premium” white metal. It is the hardest and most durable white metal and is often chosen for rings and ring settings by people who appreciate the wear and tear to which hand jewelry can be exposed. Platinum can take much more day-to-day abuse before needing to be repaired, whereas silver and white gold need more care. Platinum’s durability and longevity is reflected in its cost, however. A $20 sterling silver ring would cost about $200 in white gold and the same ring might cost around $600 in platinum.