Silver vs. Gold Jewellery – Choosing Jewellery That Suits Your Skin Tone & Outfit


Look through your jewellery collection, and you may find you have predominantly silver or gold jewellery. Often, we make a decision when we start purchasing our jewellery. Was your choice driven by your personal preference for one metal colour over the other, or did you find that gold suited you better than silver or vice versa? Perhaps you were influenced by the jewellery trends of the time, with gold jewellery having fallen in and out of favour over the decades.  

If you’ve been asking yourself, should I wear gold or silver jewellery, our helpful guide will show you how to pair the right precious metal to your appearance, and we’ll detail how to complement your outfit with gold and silver jewellery. Whether you’re trying to find the right aesthetic for yourself or wish to buy the perfect gift for a loved one, we’ve got the precious metal know-how.

The enduring popularity of gold and silver jewellery   

Gold jewellery can be traced back to 4400 BC. It was popular in ancient Egypt, where affluent members of society wore grand pieces. Gold jewellery was also prevalent in ancient Greece, and this early association between gold and wealth has endured. From the 1950s through to the 1980s, the warm, lustrous look of yellow gold was once again used to reflect wealth, while today, white gold is sometimes a more desirable fashion choice.

Though inherently less valuable than gold, silver has long been prized by humans, with examples of silver jewellery dating back 6,000 years. Right up until the Victorian era, silver jewellery was almost exclusively worn by the wealthiest of individuals. As high numbers of silver jewellery started being produced during the Industrial Revolution, their price dropped, making it more accessible.  

Categorising gold and silver jewellery   

If you’ve browsed silver or gold jewellery, you’ve probably noticed there are different categories of each – but do you understand what they mean? Take our whistlestop tour of gold and silver categorisation so you’ll understand precisely what you’re getting when you purchase an item of jewellery.


  • Carat – the purity of alloyed gold jewellery is classified by carats. The higher the carat, the more gold present within the metal. Gold is alloyed with other metals to make it more suitable for jewellery (since pure gold is very soft). The higher the carat, the more expensive the jewellery.
  • Colour – gold can be alloyed with other metals to create appealing colours. Yellow gold (still the most popular colour in jewellery) is alloyed with silver, copper and zinc. It is known for its lovely, warm hues. The increasingly popular white gold contains silver metals, such as silver or palladium, and it is also plated with rhodium to produce an attractive silvery shine and a more scratch-resistant surface. This type of gold is one of the leading choices for wedding bands today. Rose gold boasts a pink tone thanks to the addition of copper, and it is commonly used in feminine designs.
  • Gold plated – this type of jewellery is created by plating a very thin layer of gold onto a cheaper metal. This allows you to enjoy the gold aesthetic at a lower price point. However, the plating tends to tarnish or even rub away over time.
  • Gold-filled – here, rather than plating gold onto a metal such as brass, the gold is bonded to it at a concentration up to 100 times higher than we see in gold plating. This means the gold won’t easily rub away.
  • Gold vermeil – this is created using sterling silver covered in a thick gold plating, which is also more resistant to rubbing.


  • Sterling silver -this is an alloy that contains 92.5% silver, then other metals such as copper, nickel or zinc. It is also referred to as .925 silver. Its chemical composition makes it a hard and durable metal that can be polished to a beautiful shine.
  • Fine silver – boasting an impressive 99.9% silver (hence being known also as .999 silver), fine silver is softer and more prone to being marked. It doesn’t have the same high shine as sterling silver but offers an attractive grey metallic lustre.
  • Non-tarnish alloys – jewellers are increasingly working with silver non-tarnish alloys such as Argentium. These alloys (designed to avoid the tarnishing associated with silver) contain 92.5% silver, then a blend of copper and a tarnish-resistant addition such as germanium.

Gold vs silver   

When it comes to silver vs. gold jewellery, what are the key differences? Here, you can compare some of the practical differences between gold and silver and, in doing so, learn the pros and cons of each type of jewellery.

Naturally, there is a notable colour difference between gold and silver jewellery, though white gold shares the grey metallic tones with silver. Gold jewellery tends to provide a warmer colour palette, while silver jewellery serves icier tones. While both metals are lustrous, gold wins on this front.

One factor you’ll undoubtedly notice when comparing silver and gold jewellery is the price. Gold is more expensive gram for gram, increasing in price as the carats rise.

Both metals are relatively soft (hence, jewellers can craft so finely with them), which means both can be marked and damaged relatively easily. Gold is more prone to marking than silver but holds stones more securely in settings and is longer lasting.  

Gold jewellery is pretty low maintenance. As long as you offer it regular cleaning with warm, soapy water, it will continue looking gorgeously lustrous. Silver is vulnerable to oxidation, so you need to use a specific cleaning product and consider anti-oxidation strips, too.  

Complementing your appearance   

Now that you know the ins and outs of silver and gold, it’s time to ask: “should I wear gold or silver jewellery to complement my appearance?” From your skin tone to your eye colour, you can assess your natural features to decide whether you’ll look better wearing gold or silver. Knowing this information is very helpful if you’d like to buy jewellery for someone but aren’t sure about their personal taste. Understanding whether gold or silver would work best against their skin will allow you to find a piece that you know will look great on them.

Skin tone

If you have a cool skin tone, you’ll suit the cool tones of silver and white gold, and you may have already found that wearing warm gold can make you look pale or washed out. Those with a warm skin tone should gravitate toward the warmer yellow or rose gold tones.

Be careful of rose gold for fair skin with red and pink undertones, as it can make your skin look slightly pink. For fair skin with pale undertones, lower carats of gold and white gold, as well as silver, can help make your skin look less tired.  

If you have tanned skin or a naturally olive complexion, enjoy wearing both silver and gold, as either will work well against your skin. Arabic and black skins can be complemented with gold jewellery, while silver jewellery doesn’t offer quite the same effect. The warm tones within Asian skin can be accentuated by rose gold and yellow gold.

Eye colour

Silver jewellery can make blue, grey or green eyes pop, while gold jewellery can balance beautifully with brown, hazel and green eyes, thanks to shared earthy notes.

Hair colour

Brunettes may find that the warmth of yellow and rose gold works well with their hair. If you have black hair, enjoy the stunning contrast between your dark hair and silver or white gold jewellery. Yellow and rose gold will also work well with black hair.

Blondes are also lucky enough to be able to wear both gold and silver. Depending on the shade of your blonde, you might like to marry icy platinum with silver and white gold and warmer blonde shade with traditional gold hues.  

Redheads may wish to avoid rose gold jewellery; some may find yellow gold clashes a little. Try silver and white gold alongside your red or strawberry blonde hair instead.

Accessorising an outfit   

Jewellery can really lift an outfit and give it that polished look. You can use the same principles of cool and warm tones to pair silver and gold jewellery to complement your fashion choices. So, where do you stand with silver vs. gold jewellery when bringing an outfit together?

Wearing gold jewellery can make a statement if you’re going out in your favourite black dress or suit. Though you would also get a similar colour contrast with silver jewellery, the cooler tones don’t offer quite as much impact. Gold also works beautifully when wearing warm colours such as red or green.

For grey or white outfits, the paler shades of blue, purple and pink, silver or white gold jewellery can marry very well. You’ll also find that a crisp white shirt can be lifted by gold jewellery, too.

If you’re going out and about in lovely shades of blush or classy beiges and nudes, bring out more of their warmth with rose gold jewellery.

If an item of gold or silver jewellery works well with your chosen outfit and you feel great wearing it, there really are no hard and fast rules on which occasions are better for gold and which for silver. Perhaps tying in with our long-standing relationship with gold, some people still feel that for the most glamorous or sentimental events, gold jewellery adds an extra touch of class, luxury and a sense of occasion.  

Pairing gold and silver with coloured gems  

Jewellers have long known that certain coloured gemstones look their best when set in silver or gold jewellery. If you’re having an engagement ring or pendant made or want to showcase a precious stone in all its glory, take a read through the following winning combinations:

  • Yellow gold – pairs well with clear stones such as diamonds and morganites, blue gems such as sapphires and lapis lazuli, pink and purple gems including tourmaline and amethyst and green stones such as emerald and peridot.  
  • Rose gold – looks stunning alongside red stones such as rubies and garnets, peachy and blush gems including morganites and sapphires, as well as deep purple amethysts and aquamarines.
  • Silver and white gold – makes clear stones such as diamonds and moissanite and vibrant, colourful gems such as emeralds, rubies, sapphires, garnets and topaz pop. These metals also work harmoniously with feminine stones such as opal, moonstone, quartz and pearls.  

Can you mix gold and silver jewellery?  

Are you the proud owner of a mix of both gold and silvery jewellery? Though we’ve answered the question, should I wear gold or silver jewellery, have you ever considered whether you can mix both? Is the combo of silver and gold together a fashion faux par, or is the juxtaposition a triumph?

If you have the skin tone to suit both metals, mixing the two can create interest and depth to your outfit – but you might like to follow these handy rules:

  1.  Either use one of the metals as your central theme, then add accents of the other or create an equal balance between the two.  
  2. Match styles, echoing gemstones or designs between the gold and silver jewellery you’re wearing. This will bring cohesion, even though the metal colours contrast.
  3. Mix and match pleasingly by layering your gold and silver accessories. Think about stacks of gold and silver rings and multiple necklaces or chains in differing lengths.
  4. Don’t forget to throw rose and white gold into the mix to help form a tonal bridge between yellow gold and silver.

Though silver vs. gold jewellery choices can be influenced by their balance with your skin tone, eyes, hair and clothes, don’t forget to follow your heart. If you love a piece and it brings you joy – wear it with pride, whether gold or silver.