What is the difference between white gold vs yellow gold vs rose gold? Today, we’re going to be looking into an important choice when it comes to selecting a jewellery item: the different colours of gold available.
In this article, we’ll cover the features of each gold colour. We’ll also explain the advantages they offer when formed into jewellery.
Why do we have 3 different gold colours?
Since early history, gold has inspired craftsmen from different cultures to make stunning ornaments and pieces of jewellery. However, the softness of gold has always presented jewellers with hurdles. This is because gold is a very malleable metal; it can easily be bent or dented. Therefore, pure gold on its own cannot be used to make objects like jewellery. Because as you can appreciate, no one wants a ring or earrings that lose their shape!
Over time, this has led to artisans developing gold alloys. An alloy is a mix of two or more metals. Gradually, through experimentation, by blending harder metals like copper and platinum with gold, craftsmen have created gold alloys that ensure durability and robustness in jewellery. From these experiments, three fundamental colours of gold have come into being: yellow gold, white gold and rose gold.
1. Yellow gold: timeless splendour
When we think of gold, our minds immediately turn to the glowing beauty of yellow gold. It’s a metal which encapsulates luxury and royalty, and inspires the senses with its gleaming colour.
Is yellow gold ‘pure’ gold?
Many people consider yellow gold as being the ‘purest’ type of gold. This is because its colour is most closely related to the gold which is mined from the Earth. However, this assumption of purity in jewellery items would be something of a mistake. Yellow gold jewellery actually contains alloy metals – as we explained in the section above.
Why does yellow gold contain alloys?
To recap what we have already learned above, the yellow gold you see in jewellery is not pure gold, but a gold alloy. This is because pure gold alone is too soft to maintain its shape. Therefore, to be used in jewellery, gold must be blended with other harder metals, such as silver, copper and platinum.
Karats – what are they?
A gold “karat” is a measurement which references the amount of pure gold in an item of jewellery. One karat represents 1/24 of a whole item of gold jewellery. In other words, an item of pure gold, where all 24 parts are just gold, is called 24-karat gold. In turn, an item that contains 18 parts of pure gold and 6 parts of alloy metals is called 18-karat gold. Karats are abbreviated to ‘K’. For example, to represent 18-karat gold we simply write ’18K gold’.
Is 9K or 18K gold better?
While high karat content like 18K can sound like a positive factor when buying gold jewellery, you should know that it will also raise your item’s price. In other words, 9K gold is always more affordable than 18K gold because it contains less gold (an expensive metal) and more alloy metals (usually more affordable).
It’s also important to bear in mind that a higher karat amount like 18K represents a slightly softer item of gold than a lower karat amount like 9K. This means that 18K gold items can bend or dent more easily than 9K gold items. Therefore, they require more care.
However, a lower karat value like 9K gold usually means that your jewellery item can feel a little lighter or less robust than an 18K gold item. When it comes to colour, the yellow colour of 18K gold can be a little more intense than that of 9K gold, when compared side by side.
Read more – 9K Gold and 18K Gold – What is the difference?
Read more – Yellow Gold Vs. White Gold
Why choose yellow gold?
There’s no doubt that yellow gold possesses classic charm. It is the traditional colour for high end jewellery and, as such, always evokes luxury. If set with diamonds, the yellow gold provides a beautiful contrast to their white sparkle, making them stand out more.
2. White gold: flawless and contemporary
Sleek, modern and gleaming, white gold has risen in prominence over the past few decades to become the most popular colour of gold on the market.
What is white gold?
White gold is, in fact, made from an alloy that contains pure gold (or simply, gold). As you already know, pure gold is yellow in colour. To create white gold, the pure gold must first be blended with white-coloured alloy metals like platinum, silver, manganese or palladium. However, even then, a white gold alloy mix will still look slightly yellow. So additionally, white gold is coated in rhodium. This is a tough and beautiful precious metal that gives white gold jewellery its distinct and beautiful white lustre.
White gold needs some maintenance
White gold jewellery requires a little more maintenance and care than yellow or rose gold items. This is because the rhodium layer your jewellery item is covered with will gradually fade away as you wear it. As a result, the slightly yellow-coloured alloy metal underneath the rhodium coating will start to show. Therefore, white gold must be professionally ‘re-dipped’ in rhodium every so often. Thankfully, most good jewellers offer this service for a small fee, and it’s a process that takes no more than a day or two.
What about karats?
The pure gold content in white gold is measured exactly the same as the pure gold content of yellow gold. This is because all gold jewellery, regardless of its colour, has some alloy metals mixed with it. See the section above on Yellow Gold, to understand karats further.
Why choose white gold?
White gold’s key selling point is, that to the untrained eye, jewellery made with white gold looks identical to platinum. Platinum is the most durable and expensive of all the precious metals. In the meantime, white gold is much more affordable than platinum yet looks the same. So if you were hoping to buy a platinum item but your budget falls short, white gold is a fantastic option.
Read more – White Gold Vs Platinum – What Is the Difference?
3. Rose gold: vintage charm
Rose gold was invented by the renowned Russian jeweller, Carl Fabergé. ln his famous Fabergé Eggs, created in the 1800s, rose gold was simply known as Russian Gold. Rose gold was popular in Europe and the USA during 1920s Art Deco era, and became trendy again recently, in 2000s.
Where does rose gold get its colour from?
Rose gold gets its colour from the addition of copper to the gold alloy mix. This lends it the gorgeous pink hue that is so central to its appeal.
Why has rose gold become fashionable again?
Rose gold is one of the more unusual additions to the gold colour family. Because it has such a rare look, it became a favourite with millennial consumers on the lookout for a unique fashion identity.
Highly suited to vintage-style jewellery
Rose gold has the essence of romance and Old World glamour. This makes it an obvious choice for vintage-inspired designs. Coupled with retro diamond shapes, such as Asscher or pear cuts, it stands out and makes a powerful statement of old world charm.
What about karats?
The pure gold content in rose gold is measured exactly the same as the pure gold content of yellow and white gold. This is because all gold jewellery, regardless of its colour, has some alloy metals mixed with it. See the first section on Yellow Gold above, to understand karats further.
Why choose rose gold?
If durability is important to you when it comes to choosing between yellow gold, white gold or rose gold, then rose gold makes a strong case. Rose gold is in fact considered the most durable and scratch-resistant of all the gold colours. This is due to the relative toughness and robustness of copper, which forms the heart of the alloy alongside pure gold.
Read more – Everything You Need to Know About Rose Gold
How to choose between white gold vs yellow gold vs rose gold?
When selecting the perfect jewellery piece for yourself or your loved one, there are a number of factors which will help to influence your decision:
- Firstly, you’ll need to consider the overall style of the piece, and navigate the choice between the vintage (rose gold), classic (yellow gold) or the contemporary (white gold).
- Secondly, if you’re thinking of buying a piece of jewellery as a gift, you should consider what type of gold your gift recipient normally wears. If they wear only white gold, then stick to that. People who wear yellow gold usually have a skin tone that also suits rose gold.
- Consider your budget. Yellow gold is the most affordable gold colour, followed by white gold and rose gold. You’ll also need to consider the gold purity of your item: choose 9K gold for more affordable prices and 18K gold if you have a bigger budget.
Once you’ve decided on these factors, now you’ll be able make a considered choice between yellow gold, white gold and rose gold.
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