It’s an old school of thought that gold and silver jewelry shouldn’t be worn together. You’re either in one camp or the other, right? Debatable. Wearing mixed metals can be a very fashionable choice when it’s done well. While each type of jewelry metal has its pros and cons—not to mention there are even different types of gold and silver jewelry—these two classic metals can be part of one classic look.
That all said, you may prefer one over the other. And that may depend on the purchase you’re about to make. Making a big investment in a wedding band is different than buying a few on-trend bracelets and rings to spruce up your work wardrobe. It comes down to your personal taste. But here are some considerations on the gold vs. silver debate.
Gold Is More Durable
Whether you’re looking at white gold or classic gold, both are more durable than silver, which is why it’s often what wedding bands and engagement rings are made from. Silver scratches easier, and it can bend and shape on impact. High-quality gold and white gold (the latter of which is pure gold mixed with a small percentage of other pure metals like nickel, silver, or palladium) don’t give impact or corrosion and oxidation.
Silver and White Gold Contain Nickel
There’s pure silver and there’s sterling silver which is often mixed with about 7% copper, but manufacturers sneak nickel in there as well. Meanwhile, white gold gets its pearly finish from nickel, but again sometimes other metals are used in its place. If you have a nickel allergy — and the Centers for Disease Control estimates that up to 20% of the population may be allergic to nickel — ask the jeweler before you buy. Pure gold may be your safest option.
Silver Is More High-Maintenance
If you don’t want your silver to tarnish, you have to clean and wear it regularly. White gold on the other hand is relatively maintenance-free. You do have to get its coating reapplied every few years (it has rhodium coating that gives it a pearly-white tinted finish) to prevent it from yellowing. As far as pure gold goes, occasionally clean it with dish soap and warm water, and it’s happy.
Silver is More Affordable
While silver may require more cleaning over time to prevent oxidation, and it can scratch easier, it’s also the more affordable option. It’s hypoallergenic, still durable compared to non-precious metals, and it looks luxurious and classy. Overall, it’s still a reliable metal that will last in your jewelry collection for a long time.
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Catherine Conelly is a former beauty and health editor turned freelance writer and digital marketer. She’s written for Shape, Thrillist, PopSugar and StyleCaster. Her work has also appeared on Forbes, Entrepreneur, the Glassdoor blog, and Adidas Game Plan A.