Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Difference Between White, Rose, and Yellow Gold

Gold is an enduring, naturally-found element that has captured the hearts and minds of humans since antiquity. It has distinctive properties that make is the most coveted of all precious metals.  It is strong, resistant to tarnish and corrosion, yet it is extremely malleable.

All pure gold is 24 karat, which is far too soft to use for fine jewelry. In order to improve strength and durability, gold must be alloyed, or mixed with other metals.  That process also creates the different colors of gold that most people are familiar with. Colored golds are less than 24 karats, and when used to create jewelry, the pieces are typically 75 percent gold (18k), 58 percent gold (14k) or 38 percent gold (9k). Gold’s color is determined by the type of metal alloys in the material and the percentage of each of those alloys. There is no difference in the value of yellow gold, white gold or rose gold when comparing pieces of the same pure gold karat.

Yellow Gold

Yellow gold is what most people picture first when they hear the word “gold.” It gets its rich color and shine from a mix of gold and color-saturated alloys like copper with a red hue and silver with a green hue.

White Gold

White gold can range in color from pale yellow to brown. Because white gold comes in such a variety of colors, jewelry is often coated in rhodium plating, which most people believe is the actual “white gold” itself. 

The alloys in white gold can vary. Many gold pieces are made up of gold, nickel and copper, though nickel can cause an allergic reaction in many people. Other white gold pieces are a gold, palladium, silver mix.  Palladium, nickel and zinc are the primary bleaching agents of white gold.

The composition of a piece of white gold jewelry is often determined by the piece itself. Rings, pins and pendants require hard metals, so they likely contain more nickel than earrings, for example. Palladium is often added in bracelets and chains, or in pieces where the white gold will be used for gemstone settings, as palladium makes the metal more malleable.

Rose Gold

Rose gold, also called pink gold and red gold, is typically associated with antique jewelry. It was popular in the 19th century, especially among Russian royalty. Rose gold jewelry is often cast in 18 karat gold and consists of about 21 percent copper and 4 percent silver to create the rose hue.

Is Any Single Color of Gold Better Than Another?

There is no difference in value between yellow gold, white gold and rose gold. The real difference simply comes down to aesthetics. It can be more difficult to find rose gold jewelry than white or yellow because its popularity waned for many years, and it can take dealers a bit longer to find goldsmiths who work in rose gold. This can often drive up the price of rose gold jewelry, but it does not make the piece any more valuable over time.

Trends and tastes change. Rose gold is becoming more fashionable after an almost Century-long drop in popularity. The vintage look of rose gold has made it a favorite in custom jewelry design. White gold became extremely popular in the 1990’s but yellow gold is also making a comeback. Whether a shopper is looking to stay on top of trends or create a classic look, one can never when they follow their own preferences and tastes. 

Naomi Shaw
Journalist, Beautician and Full-Time Mom

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